Sunday, 10 August 2014
Beating Anxiety: All Day, Everyday
Anxieties.com class meditation as 'a family of mental exercises that generally involve sitting quietly while focusing on some simple internal or external stimulus such as a word, one's breathing pattern or a visual object'. Meditation can also be incorporated into gentle exercise like yoga and pilates. A morning meditation session can be a great way to start the day for anyone suffering from anxiety as it gives you the ability to control your physical tension by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure. The relaxation of the body and mind can also help you to take control of your thoughts and improve your self awareness - a study reported by Pyschcentral indicates that 30 minutes of meditation per day can seriously relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as acting as a natural pain relief method too. What better way to start your day?
Plan your day
Some sufferers find that their anxiety is triggered by feelings of uncertainty or disorganization so make a habit of spending 10 minutes or so each morning planning your day. A simple to-do list or schedule will give focus to your day and clarify what you hope to achieve. On days where you anticipate a lot of rushing around you can even plan the night before by setting everything out ready so there are no last minutes panics that can escalate into anxiety attacks - Psychguides say that these attacks are common in people suffering from panic disorders. Being organized in your home and keeping on top of mess and clutter will also keep your mind de-cluttered, so where possible use your planning time each day to keep on top of chores and create a calm environment.
It is a well established fact that the food we put into our body has a direct impact on our mood and this is particularly true for anxiety sufferers. While no food can 'cure' anxiety, a healthy, well balanced diet can certainly help improve the symptoms whilst certain food types can make them worse. One of the food groups that you should try and work into your daily meals are wholegrains which include brown pasta, rice, bread and cereal. These complex carbohydrates help to keep blood sugar levels stable which can avoid any peaks and troughs in mood and also contain Vitamin B which has been linked to good mental health. CalmClinic also suggests that 'superfoods' high in antioxidants such as blueberries, acai berries, peaches and citrus fruits contain stress relieving properties and dark chocolate can reduce cortisol (the hormone in the body responsible for producing stress). Things to avoid include fizzy, sugary drinks or anything packed with sugar as this can disrupt your blood sugar levels, ultimately affecting your mood. Processed foods are also a no-no as they often contain products that have addictive properties that can worsen anxiety. Fried foods or those high in fat can leave you feeling sluggish, bloated and unmotivated and alcohol should be avoided at all costs as this can affect brain chemistry to increase stress and depression.
There is no better natural mood enhancer than exercise. An afternoon jog, swim or gym session will get your blood flowing, endorphins racing and will increase the production of serotonin in the body. This so called 'happy hormone' has a calming effect on the body and will naturally reduce tension and stress. Aside from the chemical benefits, exercise is a great way to improve your self image and self esteem. As you become fitter and break personal boundaries you will begin to take pride in yourself and you will look and feel great. Try and factor at least some light exercise into your schedule everyday – even if it is a brisk walk on your lunch hour or some sit ups in the evening.
Get an early night
Lack of sleep is one of the worst triggers for anxiety. Unfortunately one of the key symptoms found in anxiety sufferers is an ability to shut off at nigh time and go to sleep so the two work in a vicious cycle. Give yourself the best possible chance of a good nights sleep by having an established bedtime routine which may include a relaxing bath with some calming smelling salts/oils (which are great for clearing the mind) and getting into bed early so you have plenty of time to try and nod off with no pressure. The ADAA advise that 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night is what anxiety sufferers should aim for.