For many, living with anxiety has been a lifetime challenge. It feels almost as if it is YOU, and it is hard to imagine a world in which anxiety is not your constant companion. However, for others, certain stressful life circumstances (e.g., the arrival of a baby, a high stress job, moving across country) bring on anxiety for the first time, and you wonder how to disentangle from the unfamiliar but now omnipresent worry and fear.
Without going into the roots of anxiety (e.g., nervous system dysregulation, attachment wounds) and specific treatments that are helpful for calming anxiety in the long-term (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, internal family systems therapy, EMDR), here are 3 tips you can start doing now to begin experiencing relief.
3 Things to DO NOW to Help Your Anxiety
Get out into nature. Generally, we do not spend enough time outside, let alone in the woods and fields and by lakes and rivers. Here’s the deal. The body experiences anxiety as a form of stress, which activates the sympathetic nervous system (your fight/flight response). Being out in nature even for a few minutes lowers stress levels, which reduces cortisol (a stress hormone). Spending time in nature also gives you a boost of endorphins and dopamine, both of which promote happiness.
Watch your caffeine intake. We all try to artificially create more energy by consuming caffeine. I get it. And some bodies don’t respond well to caffeine. It actually increases stress hormones, and although we need some cortisol in our system, too much will send us back to a fight/flight response. Notice how you feel when you drink caffeine. Do you feel more agitated? Do you feel more irritable or on edge? Some people are able to find a different form of caffeine, other than coffee, that their system responds to better (such as green tea). Experiment with what works for you, and ultimately lowering your caffeine intake is a positive step.
Say “pass” to the alcohol and choose a mocktail instead. Alcohol – the social lubricant. Alcohol may feel good in the moment because it lowers anxiety. Do you know why it has this effect? Because alcohol stimulates GABA receptors, which is thought to lead to a reduction in anxiety. As a result, the brain thinks it does not need to produce as much GABA, and for the next few days following alcohol consumption, anxiety may feel heightened. Given this connection, it may be worth experimenting with passing on alcohol. Give a mocktail a try instead – they can be delicious!
Seeking Professional Help: If anxiety has been your constant companion and you long to feel bigger than your anxiety, working with an anxiety therapist who understands can be life-changing. To find out more about anxiety therapy, please call or text 317-747-0574 or visit our contact page.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional psychological care, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.