Overcoming anxiety is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced.
The everyday demands of life, between paying bills, working, staying connected to family, and trying to stay healthy, can turn any person’s life into nothing short of an anxious mess.
You might be a person who has dealt with anxiety all their lives, or maybe this is something new only to your adult life. Regardless of your symptoms and whatever the root cause is, overcoming anxiety is something many of us need help doing.
It seems like much of our lives today is spent coping with anxiety, which to me doesn’t sound like any way to live, but it is the reality of modern Western society.
Approximately 40 million adults in the United States alone report having a form of generalized anxiety disorder.
I am sure most of us don’t need any help when it comes to adopting unhealthy coping mechanisms for trying to deal with anxiety so instead of focusing on that, here are some HEALTHY ways to deal with anxiety that actually work.
Healthy Ways of Overcoming Anxiety
1. Share Your Fears and Anxieties | Venting
Pulling aside a friend or loved one and venting can be all that it might take for a person to finally have some relief from fear, which is the root response emotion associated with anxiety.
Whether it’s a deadline that you’re late for at work or your final test before a degree, speaking the anxiety and fear out loud can have a dramatic impact on taking the power away from what might have been troubling you.
I have had instances in my adult life where I just needed an ear and nobody was available for me when I needed it. I actually called a hotline, and it was better than any other conversation I could have had with anyone else.
So I don’t want to hear “I don’t have any friends.” If overcoming anxiety matters to you, then you’ll do what you have to do.
Depending on how free you want to be from worry, sometimes we have to get willing to get outside of our comfort zones. Vulnerability can be a great antidote to fear and anxiety.
There are healthy and unhealthy ways to vent anxiety. The healthy way is to not expect your friend to take on whatever it is that’s making you anxious.
A good friend would have boundaries in that regard, but it’s still worth mentioning. The last thing we want is to put our junk onto others and make them feel on edge and irritable like we do.
Sometimes you don’t even necessarily have to talk to a person in order to get out verbally whatever it is that’s pressing your heart. Shouting out loud or into a pillow can be of great benefit.
2. Journaling Can Help With Anxiety
Another great way to cope with anxiety is to start journaling. Get all of your fear down on paper where it is separate from you.
To have an even more lasting impression, burn everything that you wrote down and repeat as necessary.
3. Exercise and Sunlight
The last thing you want to probably do when your mind is in overdrive is to go outside and exercise.
Notice I said outside.
Sunlight and vitamin D are a godsend when it comes to overcoming anxiety.
Exercise reduces cortisol in a person’s body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that has been linked to causing cancer as well as many other mental and physical health issues.
We all know already that exercise has a huge impact on your brain’s capacity to make endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that we often lack when we are in the grips of stress in life.
And because your brain can’t equally focus on two things at once, exercise can also take your mind off your problems.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity 3 to 5 days a week. I recommend doing total body resistance training on the days you’re in the gym.
Don’t think you have to struggle through a painful workout. Any type of movement is better than no movement, and I promise from my own personal experience that exercise will be your best friend when it comes to dealing with anxiety.
4. Regulate Your Sleep Habits
A couple of other huge ways to help a person manage anxiety is to limit caffeine consumption and go to bed at a decent hour — essentially, practicing good sleep hygiene.
This could be one of the most impactful areas when it comes to overall mood in a normal human being. If you are a coffee drinker, try to limit the cups you have each day, and be especially mindful of how late in the day you drink caffeine.
I have heard no later than 3 PM.
Getting a solid 6 to 8 hours of sleep can often be all that’s needed for a person to give anxiety a swift kick in the butt.
5. Eat Regular Meals to Overcome Anxiety
If anxiety causes you to feel sick, the thought of eating can be about as appealing as eating dirt.
It can be easy to want to skip meals if you’re a person dealing with anxiety, but know that skipping meals can oftentimes make a person’s anxiety levels much much higher.
Your blood sugar drops when you don’t eat, which causes the release of the stress hormone I’ve mentioned called cortisol. Cortisol can help you perform better under pressure, but it can also make you feel worse if you’re already prone to anxiety.
Be mindful of the foods that you choose to consume every day. Sugar doesn’t necessarily cause anxiety, but a sugar rush can manifest physical symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness or jitteriness.
Incorporate more lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats into your diet. Eat 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day, and avoid or limit your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
6 Meditation for Overcoming Anxiety
Practicing meditation on a daily basis is an amazing and healing way to be proactive when it comes to managing and coping with anxiety.
When I say on a regular basis, I mean taking 10 to 15 minutes every morning and night and doing nothing but sitting still with each inhale and exhale of your breath.
Focusing on each inhale and exhale or counting to 10 and repeating that cycle over and over while you just sit in silence still and chill.
When your mind is focused on your breath, there is no other way for any sort of thought to intrude. If you notice that you drifted off or started to think about something else, just go right back to counting and start over.
Aside from putting focus around the breath, you can also recite a mantra in your head while you take deep breaths, and each time you finish, you start over and go back to the beginning.
That is the way I do it, and it has had quite a dramatic impact on my overall stress level every day.
I can’t imagine what my life and thoughts would be like if there wasn’t a sense of urgency around making sure I don’t skip meditation. I can tell a dramatic difference when I do that so I try to just not.
7. Cardio for Anxiety Reduction
Circling back to working out for the sake of stress management, I want to mention something else around cardio. Taking 20 to 30 minutes at least 3 to 5 times a week to run is such an awesome way to also be proactive about managing stress.
When I go on a run, even if it’s just for 20 minutes, I always feel like a million bucks afterward, and the day just seems to flow along so much easier.
Hopefully you find this helpful when it comes to overcoming anxiety in your life.
What do you do to overcome anxiety? Let me know in the comments.