Just Breathe: 5 Tips On How To Handle Anxiety & Stress

How To Handle Anxiety

It is normal for everyone to feel stressed and anxious every now and then, especially before a big event such as starting a new job, moving to a new place or taking an important exam. However, if you feel that excessive stress has been causing a hindrance in your daily life, and are unsure on how to deal with anxiety, then you might need to give yourself a break and figure out the underlying cause.

People who are constantly overwhelmed with worry and fear may suffer from an anxiety disorder, in which case should consider seeking professional help from a psychiatrist. Although in the mean-time, there are plenty of steps that you can take to manage your stress, and help deal with anxiety. 

1. Avoid Caffeine/Alcohol 

Caffeine in any form is a stimulant, and thus a powerful inducer of anxiety. According to Harvard Medical School, caffeine is known for replicating common symptoms of anxiety including; restlessness, sleeplessness, dizziness, nausea, increase in heart rate, and can even lead to problems in the gastrointestinal tract. This can be applied to tea, coffee, as well as caffeinated drinks, therefore it is best to stay away from them, especially if you are unsure on how to handle anxiety. 

On the other hand, although you may feel that consuming alcohol can get rid of your anxiety temporarily, the long term effects are far worse. This is because alcohol changes the level of serotonin and neurotransmitters in your brain which can make an individual more prone to stress later on. 

2. Exercise/Practice Yoga 

Along with having many health benefits, exercising is a good way to help control your anxiety.  A simple 15-20 minute walk or workout can instantly elevate your mood and distract you from your cause of stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercising regularly is a form of medication as it is known for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression over time. 

Moreover, the Harvard Medical School journal denotes that engaging in exercise and practicing yoga releases muscle tension, and increases heart rate which in turn increases the level of anti-anxiety neurochemicals such as serotonin and endocannabinoids.in your brain and helps build resistance against negative emotions. 

3. Creative Stimulation 

Expressing yourself creatively in any form of art; whether it’s through painting, writing or music is known to be very therapeutic. Art therapy can thus be a very healthy way of dealing with anxiety as it enables you to keep your nervous system calm as your focus shifts from your source of worry to losing yourself in the process of creating. 

So next time you’re feeling anxious, try to write out or draw your thoughts, dance to your favourite tunes or listen to soothing music to help drown out the negative feeling. 

4. Focus 

If you feel like you’re about to have a panic attack, immediately shift your point of focus. Try to leave the room, look in another direction or go outside. Or if you are unable to leave your current location, try to shift your focus on to your surroundings instead of your overwhelming thoughts. Focus on immersing yourself in your environment by naming the things around you, this will help keep yourself grounded in the present moment, and stop your mind from drifting off to a dark place. 

5. Meditate 

Anxiety is often understood as the inability to effectively manage your emotions, and meditation helps you do just that. Research suggests that regular meditative practices can rewire neural pathways in the brain, and enables awareness towards your body with time, making you conscious of your physical sensations. These sensations can later be revisited when you are burdened with anxious thoughts. 

Through meditation, you also learn to observe your own thoughts, and thus differentiate between what is legit and what is simply an irrational thought or anxiety taking over. 

We hope these tips contributed to your mental wellbeing and helped you in figuring out how to deal with anxiety. If you wish to seek professional guidance and are looking to avail local mental health or counselling services, be sure to check out It’s Just in Your Head: Seeking Mental Health Services in Malaysia. Happy healing!

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