Some people are able to identify a specific event or point in time that triggered their anxiety, while others find it hard to remember a time when they didn’t feel anxious. Unfortunately, anxiety is not something you can just wish away. The good news is that there are things we can do each day to help manage and relieve some of our anxiety. Here are 5 things people can do to help relieve their anxiety. Even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, these activities can help you feel happier and more relaxed:
1. Exercise: Not only does exercise help with your physical health, it can help with your mental health. As we exercise, “happy chemicals” called endorphins are released. They can boost our mood and even help relieve pain. Another hormone that increases with exercise is serotonin. Many studies have shown that increasing serotonin can help protect from depression and anxiety.
2. Laugh: The old saying “laughter is the best medicine” is actually true. From guffaws to giggles, laughter increases endorphins, soothes tension, relieves pain and improves your mood. Laughter also builds our immune system because positive thoughts release neuropeptides that help fight stress. Read a funny comic, watch a funny movie, or spend time with friends that make you laugh. Even the simple gesture of smiling can start to help you relax.
3. Connect with someone you love: Whether it’s a phone call to a friend, hugging your spouse or children, or snuggling up with your dog, connection is an important aspect of life. We are all social beings. You can write a letter, call a friend, or reminisce with family. Social connection help get us outside our own head. Feeling connected, supported and understood help to relieve anxiety.
4. Get enough sleep: Sometimes it’s hard in our busy world of work and family obligations, but making sleep a priority is important. When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies actually produce a stress hormone called cortisol. Over time, chronic sleep deprivation may cause a variety of physical and mental health problems, ranging from headaches and weight gain to depression and anxiety. Start a sleep journal if you think this might be an issue. Record how much sleep you’re getting every night.
5. Practice deep breathing exercises or mediation: Deep breathing and focusing on relaxing forces us to pay attention to what our body and mind are doing. For some people 5-10 deep, relaxing breaths is enough to do the trick, while others prefer to meditate. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a great way to become aware of your own body as you learn to relax.
Anxiety isn’t the same for everyone – what makes you anxious may have no effect on the next person. Likewise, you may have your own ways to relieve stress or help reduce your anxiety. If you’re in need of some relaxing, consider trying some of these ideas. Find out what works for you and build on it. What have you got to lose…besides your stress?