At its core, anxiety is a culmination of stressful apprehensions we have about what lies ahead. In other words, people who tend to be anxious are typically living in the future instead of the present moment. This might make anxiety sound like a wholly negative form of tension, but anxiety isn’t inherently “bad” or “unhealthy.”
Everyone gets the heebee jeebees from time to time, and that’s a good thing! Anxiety is the brain’s way of telling us that something feels “off” or that we should be fearful of what looms around the corner. As you can imagine, this can be a lifesaver in certain circumstances.
The Trouble with Anxiety
What’s especially troubling about anxiety is that there is a well-understood biochemical basis to it, yet the solution is often not just as simple as popping a pill. Medication does help in some cases, but there’s more to the puzzle when it comes to relieving anxiety.
So, what exactly is anxiety? Why is it becoming such a common mental health issue as of late?
Well, let’s first make it clear that anxiety is a part of life. In many ways, anxiety is how you know you’re alive. Just imagine looking out the window during a thunderstorm and seeing a roaring tornado heading straight for your house; it wouldn’t be very wise to just stand in place without any apprehension, would it? Chances are your brain would be telling you “Get to the basement and take shelter!” This fight-or-flight response is a life-saving form of stress that can be classified as acute anxiety.
- Loss of appetite & unexpected weight loss
- Panic attacks
- Tension headaches
- Insomnia/poor sleep
- Inability to focus or concentrate
Relieve Anxiety Quickly & Naturally
Make no mistake that managing anxiety is an ongoing process that requires diligent effort on your part. Nobody can “cure” it for you, unfortunately. However, this is one of the most liberating things about anxiety: You have the power to stop those unwanted thoughts! Here a handful of strategies you can try for relieving anxiety quickly.
Start the Day with a Healthy Meal
Food is medicine for the body, so nourishing yourself properly is crucial for stopping anxiety in its tracks. Likewise, skipping breakfast and starving yourself throughout the day is one of the worst things to do when you’re trying to fight anxiety since nutrient deprivation is a form of stress.
Make time in the morning to eat a solid breakfast containing a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, such as an egg omelet with a side of fruit. If you don’t have time to eat breakfast because of your schedule, make a homemade smoothie or buy meal replacement bars that you can take on your morning commute.
Hit the Gym (Get some Exercise)
Arguably one of the most effective ways to “let off some steam” and put the kibosh on anxiety is to go to the gym and get a workout in. If you’re not a fan of the gym, then even some light physical activity, like going for a walk or bike ride outside, will help take your mind off whatever is bothering you. Best of all, keeping physically fit sets the foundation for beating anxiety in the long run.
If you don’t do much physical activity at this point, start small with a simple 30-minute walk during the day. From there, you can gradually increase the intensity/duration of exercise and try different workouts.
Take a Deep Breath
Deep breathing seems so simple that people presume it just can’t be an effective way to relieve anxiety quickly. Well, guess what? It’s been shown in several studies to reduce anxiety and calm patients down when they are feeling apprehensive. By breathing deeply, through your belly and nose rather than your mouth, blood oxygen levels and pH rise; in turn, this calms the adrenal glands and nervous system, which lessens those pesky anxious feelings you may have.
Cut Back on Caffeine/Stimulants
Many adults have a morning routine that revolves around coffee. Coffee is also the go-to beverage of choice when the dreaded “mid-afternoon slump” hits. While coffee/caffeine in moderation may be beneficial for mood and motivation, it’s stimulatory actions throughout the nervous system aren’t without consequences.
In fact, part of the reason caffeine makes us feel so “amped up” is because it increases cortisol and adrenaline production, which consequently elevates heart rate and blood pressure. In addition, consuming too much caffeine and/or other stimulants is well-known to intensify the symptoms of anxiety.
For managing anxiety, it’s recommended to limit caffeine intake (i.e. 100-200 mg or less per day). This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t drink coffee/tea or other caffeinated beverages. A cup of coffee in the morning is fine for most people. Drinking the whole pot, on the other hand, will probably make your anxiety worse.
Laugh it off
A great way to reduce anxiety is to “distract” your mind with positive thoughts or things that make you laugh and smile. This may mean reading a satirical book, listening to a humorous podcast, or watching an upbeat sitcom on Netflix – whatever gets a rise out of you! After all, laughter truly is the best medicine according to Rapid Anxiety Reduction (RAR) theory.
Anxiety is an intrinsic part of life and nothing to be ashamed of. Frankly, it would be inhuman to never feel anxious about anything. However, when anxiety starts to disrupt your quality of life and interfere with your productivity, it’s time to take action. Using the strategies described above can help relieve anxiety quickly and get your mind back to a state of calmness.
Give them a shot and see how you feel – you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by at least trying!