Lifestyle Changes To Help Treat Anxiety

Lifestyle Changes To Help Treat Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common prevalent mental illnesses in the US, affecting an estimated 19.1 percent of the US adult population – an equivalent of 40 million people aged 18 years and above.

While medication and therapy are the first lines of treatment for anxiety, making healthy lifestyle changes can also go a long way in managing anxiety symptoms and promoting overall wellness. Below are some lifestyle changes that can prove beneficial in managing anxiety:

1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress. Regular exercise increases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins can help improve mood, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem.

Exercising has also been shown to promote the production of other vital hormones, such as serotonin and GABA, which help support mood and emotional regulation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, most days of the week.

2. Eat A Balanced Diet

What you eat can affect your mood and anxiety levels. Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help support healthy brain function – which translates to better mood regulation and reduced anxiety.

Caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods should be avoided as they can increase anxiety symptoms. Studies have found that reducing processed carbohydrates and going gluten-free can help reduce anxiety levels significantly.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that encourages focusing on the present moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without judgment. This ancient practice can have a calming effect on the mind and body and has been adopted in western medicine as a tool for managing anxiety and other symptoms of mental illness. Common mindfulness techniques include meditation, yoga, breathing work, and tai chi/qigong.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is essential for maintaining good mental health. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, and mood swings – which can trigger or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. As such, maintaining good sleep hygiene is critical in managing anxiety. This can be achieved by creating a regular sleep schedule and establishing a relaxing bedtime routine. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

5. Socialize And Connect With Others

Socializing with friends and family can help reduce anxiety and improve mental health. We all know that social isolation can cause loneliness and anxiety symptoms. Make an effort to connect with others, go out with friends, and participate in activities of mutual interest.

6. Do Something You Love

Doing things you enjoy now and then is a great way to escape anxious thoughts and bring happiness back into your life. Pursue a hobby, listen to music, read books, go for a short getaway, or take up a new activity. Taking some time off your daily routine to kick back and enjoy yourself can do wonders for your mental health.

7. Limit Alcohol/Substance Use

While alcohol and substances may provide a temporary escape from anxiety and emotional anguish, long-term use can worsen anxiety symptoms and interfere with treatment. According to research, substance use can impair the brain’s ability to function properly, compounding the effects of mental illness.

8. Seek Professional Help

It’s advisable to seek professional help if anxiety is beginning to interfere with your day-to-day life. A qualified and experienced psychologist can assess your symptoms, develop a personalized treatment plan, and provide evidence-based treatments to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Final Thoughts

Living with anxiety can be overwhelming, but making positive lifestyle changes can help alleviate stress and anxiety levels. Even small changes like exercising regularly or getting enough restful sleep daily can make a big difference.

If lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. With proper treatment and self-care, it is possible to overcome anxiety symptoms and face each day with renewed energy.

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