Some anxiety is a normal part of life. It’s a byproduct of living in an often-chaotic world. Anxiety isn’t all bad, though. It makes you aware of danger, motivates you to stay organized and prepared, and helps you calculate risks. Still, when anxiety becomes a daily struggle, it’s time to act before it snowballs. Unchecked anxiety may greatly impact your quality of life. Take control by trying out the ideas below.
1. Stay active
Regular exercise is good for your physical and emotional health. Regular exercise works as well as medication to ease anxiety for some people. And it’s not just a short-term fix; you may experience anxiety relief for hours after working out.
2. Don’t drink alcohol
Alcohol is a natural sedative. Drinking a glass of wine or a finger of whiskey when your nerves are shot may calm you at first. Once the buzz is over, however, anxiety may return with a vengeance. If you rely on alcohol to relieve anxiety instead of treating the root of the problem, you may develop alcohol dependence.
3. Stop smoking
Smokers often reach for a cigarette during stressful times. Yet, like drinking alcohol, taking a drag on a cigarette when you’re stressed is a quick fix that may worsen anxiety over time. Research has shown that the earlier you start smoking in life, the higher your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later. Research also suggests nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety.
4. Ditch caffeine
If you have chronic anxiety, caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine may cause nervousness and jitters, neither of which is good if you’re anxious. Research has shown caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It may also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms.
5. Get some sleep
Insomnia is a common symptom of anxiety. Make sleep a priority by:
- only sleeping at night when you’re tired
- not reading or watching television in bed
- not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- not tossing and turning in your bed if you can’t sleep; get up and go to another room until you feel sleepy
- avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
- keeping your room dark and cool
- writing down your worries before going to bed
- going to sleep at the same time each night
A main goal of meditation is to remove chaotic thoughts from your mind and replace them with a sense of calm and mindfulness of the present moment. Meditation is known for relieving stress and anxiety. Research from John Hopkins suggests 30 minutes of daily meditation may alleviate some anxiety symptoms and act as an antidepressant.
7. Eat a healthy diet
Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods such as artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, and preservatives may cause mood changes in some people. A high-sugar diet may also impact temperament. If your anxiety worsens after eating, check your eating habits. Stay hydrated, eliminate processed foods, and eat a healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.
8. Practice deep breathing
Shallow, fast breathing is common with anxiety. It may lead to a fast heart rate, dizziness or lightheadedness, or even a panic attack. Deep breathing exercises — the deliberate process of taking slow, even, deep breaths — can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety.
9. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses fragrant essential oils to promote health and well-being. The oils may be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. Studies have shown that aromatherapy:
- helps you relax
- helps you sleep
- boosts mood
- reduces heart rate and blood pressure
Some essential oils used to relieve anxiety are:
- clary sage
- ylang ylang
10. Drink chamomile tea
A cup of chamomile tea is a common home remedy to calm frayed nerves and promote sleep. A 2009 study showed chamomile may also be a powerful ally against generalized anxiety disorder. The study found people who took German chamomile capsules (220 milligrams up to five times daily) had a greater reduction in scores for tests that measure anxiety symptoms than those who were given a placebo.
If you’re feeling anxious, trying the above ideas may help calm you down. Remember, home remedies may help ease anxiety, but they don’t replace professional help. Increased anxiety may require therapy or prescription medication. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.