Everyone has feelings of anxiety, nervousness, tension, and stress from time to
time. Here are 5 ways to help manage them:
Become a relaxation expert. We all think we know how
to relax. But chilling out in front of the TV or computer isn't true relaxation. (Depending
on what you're watching or doing, it could even make you more tense.) The same is
true for alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. They may seem to relieve anxiety or stress, but
it's a false state of relaxation that's only temporary. What the body really needs
is daily practice of a relaxation technique — like deep breathing, tai chi,
or yoga — that has a physical effect on the mind. For example, deep breathing
helps to relax a major nerve that runs from the diaphragm to the brain, sending a
message to the entire body to let go and loosen up.
Get enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. Want your mind and
body to feel peaceful and strong enough to handle life's ups and downs? Get the right
amount of sleep for your needs — not too much or too little. Eat well: Choose
fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for long-term energy (instead of
the short bursts that come from too much sugar or caffeine). And exercise to send
oxygen to every cell in the body so your brain and body can operate at their best.
Connect with others. Spend time with friends or family. Organized
activities are great, but just hanging out works too. Doing things with those we feel
close to deepens our bonds, allowing us to feel supported and secure. And the fun
and sharing that go with it allow us to feel happier and less upset about things.
If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who
listens and cares can help you feel more understood and better able to cope. You'll
be reminded that everyone has these feelings sometimes. You're not alone.
Connect with nature. Heading out for a walk in the park or a
hike in the woods can help anyone feel peaceful and grounded. (Choose somewhere you
feel safe so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.) Walking, hiking, trail biking,
or snowshoeing offer the additional benefit of exercise. Invite a friend or two —
or a family member — along and enjoy feeling connected to people as well.
Pay attention to the good things. A great way to keep our minds
off the worry track is to focus our thoughts on things that are good, beautiful, and
positive. Appreciate the small, everyday blessings. Allow yourself to dream, wish,
and imagine the best that could happen.
Note: When anxiety or worry feels extreme, it may be a sign of
an anxiety disorder. For someone
who has an anxiety disorder, getting proper care from a health professional is important.
These tips can help too, of course. But professional treatment is the only way to
shake an anxiety disorder.