When it comes to anxiety, most of us are no stranger to the sensation. Although some of us get it just from time to time, others suffer from the disorder constantly. Everyone's course of treatment is different, but there are a number of daily habits that can help reduce your anxiety, and incorporating these activities into your life can help reduce your symptoms overall. Considering 18 percent of the American population has anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it's important to know how we can take the proper steps to help eradicate the issue with some simple lifestyle changes.
"If we don’t make time for self-care on a regular basis, our anxiety level goes up," says mental health professional Yulia Sauter to Bustle over email. "This can look different for everyone and doesn’t always have to be yoga and mediation. "It we don’t de-stress on a regular basis, our anxiety level will slowly build up."
As tempting it is to sit in your room all day and watch a movie as stress relief, staying inside all day, remaining inactive, and isolating yourself can actually make your anxiety worse. If you want to reduce your anxiety and improve your overall mental well-being, consider adapting these 11 daily habits that can help naturally calm you down.
"Exercise is an incredibly important component of treating anxiety, and a lack of exercise is possibly one of the main reasons that anxiety numbers have increased over the past several decades," says NYC neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez over email. Numerous studies show that regular exercise is effective in reducing anxiety, as physical activity can reduce stress hormones, improve your self-image, and even give you more energy to reach your other goals, according to Harvard Health.
If you don't have a regular meditation routine, it's time to start now. Studies from the Journal of Psychiatric Practice show that mindfulness-based meditation have both antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, and can decrease general psychological distress. Take five minutes in the morning or try to unwind before bed, and you might be surprised at the impactful results of tuning out temporarily.
3. Having A Good Laugh
As if you needed any more excuses to watch a funny YouTube video, laughter is a good antidote to anxiety. Even if it seems as if there is nothing to laugh about, somehow finding relief through humor can help cool your body's stress response by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, releasing endorphins, and even relaxing your muscles and improving your circulation, according to Mayo Clinic.
The thought of having to do some cleaning might stress you out in theory, but the action of cleaning can actually be beneficial to your well-being. Most obviously, cleaning reduces clutter, which can be a source of anxiety. Additionally, activities such as dishwashing can be meditative and help you relax, according to the journal Mindfulness.
5. Going Outside
Nature has some therapeutic powers, and spending time outside can help reduce anxiety and stress. People who spend the most time in green spaces report lower feelings of stress and even have less of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a study from the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.
6. Spending Time With Friends
Whether you enjoy parties or you're more of a homebody, fit in some time with friends, even if it's something low-key. People with social support show a decreased reaction to stress compared to those who spend most of their time alone, according to the journal Biological Psychology. Socializing can increase levels of the hormone oxytocin, which has anxiety-reducing effects.
7. Utilizing Aromatherapy
Our nose can be a powerful tool when it comes to reducing anxiety. Multiple studies show that scents such as bergamot, lavender, and sage can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, according to the American College of Healthcare Sciences. Fill your room with these scents to help keep you calm and relaxed.
8. Setting Goals
"It’s hard to be positive and hopeful if you don’t know where you’re going," says Hafeez. "Uncertainty is anxiety’s BFF, so you need to break up this relationship with a clear vision of where you want to be." Write down your goals, and use them to make concrete plans to keep you motivated.
9. Eating Balanced Meals
A healthy balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and omega-3 fatty acids can help improve anxiety symptoms, according to multiple studies. And don't skip out on breakfast either. "Eating protein at breakfast can help you feel fuller longer and help keep your blood sugar steady so that you have more energy as you start your day," says Hafeez.
10. Drinking Water
We need water for more than just survival, and most of us don't get enough of the drink. A study from the Journal of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration can cause problems in mood, so keep a water bottle nearby at all times.
11. Getting Some Sleep
Staying up all night can do more than just make you tired the next day. Research from the University of California-Berkeley found that sleep deprivation fires up areas of the brain associated with emotional processing, resulting in abnormal neural activity that mimics anxiety. The more you sleep, the better equipped you are to deal with your emotions. "Look at your sleep habits and see if there are steps that you can take on your own to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep," says Hafeez.
Although not one lifestyle change works for everyone, the more healthy activities you do, the greater the chance you can fight off your anxiety. As always, talk to your doctor if you want to make any big changes in your daily routine.
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