5 Scientifically-Supported Tips for Beating Anxiety
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Perhaps one of the most straightforward ways to curb your anxiety is to practice mediation.
By taking deep breaths, and focusing on your breathing and bodily sensations in the present moment, you can lower your heart rate and release tension in the body.
Most importantly, meditation does NOT have to be an hour long! Even brief moments of mindfulness and deep breathing can help to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Challenge Negative Thinking
One of the fundamental techniques used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is challenging unhelpful or irrational thoughts. There is substantial evidence that CBT can reduce symptoms of anxiety (and other mental health disorders) by using this approach.
Begin by becoming more mindful of your thinking. If you are feeling anxious, ask yourself ‘What was I thinking as I became anxious?”
Next, ask yourself “Is this thinking fact or opinion?’
Finally, challenge unhelpful thoughts and begin replacing them with more realistic ways of thinking.
For a more in-depth look at this method, check out these previous blog posts:
- How To Stop Negative Self-Talk: The Cognitive Triangle
- How To Stop Negative Self-Talk: Cognitive Distortions
- How To Stop Negative Self-Talk: Thought Logs
Face your fear, rather than Avoid it
By avoiding experiences which we perceive to be anxiety-provoking, we often rewarded with temporary relief. In the long run, however, too much avoidance can lead to a restricted life and even more anxiety!
This is why it is so important to take a serious look at how much you are avoiding vs. facing your fears.
Using the following coping skills can help you to face your fears and reverse avoidance patterns:
- Challenging negative thinking
- Outline what your goals are (this will help you to stay motivated)
- Take 5 deep, slow breaths
- … and many more
For more information on avoidance click here, and for more information on coping skills click here.
Consume Less caffeine, sugar, and processed foods
If you are experiencing significant anxiety and/or trouble sleeping, this is one of the first steps you should take to reduce anxiety. That being said, it is not always easy to give up coffee and sweets.
This is where moderation is important! As an avid coffee drinker myself, I have found that I do best if I stop drinking coffee before noon. By doing this, your sleep is less likely to be effected and you will consume less caffeine, which can produce anxiety.
There is substantial evidence that exercise can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety (and depression). Cardio exercises in particular help to lower levels of anxiety-increasing stress hormones, and increase endorphin production, which can elevate your mood.
If this sounds difficult to you, just remember that moderation is key to establishing a sustainable routine. Starting off small is okay!
Some small steps to increasing cardiovascular exercise:
- Skip the elevator and take the stairs
- Do 50 jumping jacks in the morning and evening (this will only take a couple of minutes)
- Go for a walk or jog for at least 15 minutes a day
SAVE FOR LATER
- How to stop avoiding and start living: The Worry Cycle
- 7 Self-Care date ideas that will improve your relationships
- How to stop negative self-talk: The Cognitive Triangle
- How to stop avoiding and start living: Coping Skills
- The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness
OVER TO YOU
How can you begin to implement these tips into your daily life?
JaneDecember 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm
…regarding Meditation + Anxiety, you may find this article of interest >>
Clearly it is not all it’s cracked up to be + needs careful approach before offering as a blanket recommendation. Like many of the things suggested, guided support is going to be more beneficial lest we venture down the rabbit hole + cannot get out.
James Voss, MA, LMHCAJanuary 9, 2019 at 9:20 am
Jane, thanks for the article! This is an interesting read. When it comes to mindfulness/meditation I think it makes sense to approach it in a way that is helpful. If someone is experiencing panic attacks, it may be helpful to consult with a counselor, psychiatrist, or – at the very least – a meditation instructor. I appreciate the feedback!