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How many times would you say you’ve felt anxious over the last month? Six months?
I’m willing to wager that it’s more than once. Especially if you’re among my audience of twenty-something women! You guys have a ton on your plate building your futures and trying to live your damn lives. Of course, everyone has their own reasons to be anxious, but this stuff permeates the entire generation. That’s why this week’s Mental Health Monday focuses on ways you can overcome it and just focus on the important stuff.
If you’re not sure what you’re reading, you’ve stumbled upon a really powerful series! This is Mental Health Monday, a guest post series raising awareness for all kinds of mental health issues. Originally, I wanted to write the posts myself, but then I realized something. I only have one personal experience. I can’t relate to everybody out there. So, how could I help as many people as I wanted to reach? The obvious answer was to ask other people. Other people who had been through the things I wanted to talk about, and who had come out stronger for it. Because as I’ve said in other posts, that’s where hope lives. Hope lives in the stories of others who have proof that things get better. Or others who have proof that admitting you need help doesn’t make you weak.
Lucy is our guest blogger today, and she blogs over at Mind Your Zen! She’s super passionate about mental health, and she has some really actionable tips to battle anxiety. She left her email address at the bottom, too! So if you have questions, feel free to contact her.
6 Ways to Overcome Times of Personal Anxiety
“Especially when you’re relatively young, there’s plenty to be anxious about. You might have career anxiety, financial worries, or existential anxiety you can’t explain. And suffering from severe bouts of it can damage your well-being and productivity.
Below are some suggestions for overcoming periods of anxiety. Each person will need to find a unique way of dealing with their situation that works for them. However, the methods described below have been shown to work either through scientific research, anecdotal evidence, or both.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can help to pull you out of an anxious moment and focus on your pattern of breath. And if you’re already experiencing an anxiety attack, a deep breathing exercise may help you avoid hyperventilating. According to Calm Clinic, the following strategy will help give you the right carbon dioxide balance, which can keep your heart rate in a normal range:
- Breathe in for 5-6 seconds
- Hold the breath for 3 seconds
- Exhale for 7 seconds through your mouth
While this is a recommended pattern, if you find another deep breathing pattern that works for you, use that one. The bottom line is to find a pattern that keeps your heart rate relatively slow and keeps you calmer. Deep breathing is somewhat like meditation in that it can direct your focus to something outside of your immediate anxiety. If you suffer from chronic anxiety, taking frequent breaks to breathe deeply may help lessen the impact.
For some, channeling deep breathing as a part of meditation may be especially effective. Using mindfulness meditation, which often involves deep breathing, can help you to focus your mind away from your anxiety. When practiced over time, mindfulness meditation may significantly reduce your symptoms.
Create an Exercise Routine
Regular exercise has been shown in several studies to help reduce the severity of the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. If you’re frequently battling anxiety, regular exercise is likely to help you combat it. If you’re short on time, even a short walk can help. For chronic or severe anxiety, a regular routine of more vigorous exercise (cardio, strength training, or both) will most likely help reduce your symptoms.
For some, nootropic and mental health supplements can be a way to manage anxiety symptoms without having to go to the trouble of seeing a mental health professional. Different supplements will work differently for different people, but many people who suffer from mental health issues have found that natural supplements help them cope with or reduce symptoms.
If you do choose a natural supplement, be sure to check to see whether it interacts with any existing supplements. For example, St. John’s Wort, an herb that has been shown to be more effective than Prozac at treating depression, can interact negatively with several prescription medications.
If you are investigating supplements, being aware of how each supplement works is also important. Nootropics and mental health supplements are used to treat a range of symptoms, so ensuring that the supplement you’ve chosen is intended to target anxiety is a vital step.
Find a Hobby
Just like with deep breathing, taking time to focus on a hobby can help support better mental health over time. Art, mindfulness, and exercise routines are a few ways to reduce anxiety while creating new memories.
Get Out in Nature
If you’ve ever gone on a hike alone or with friends and felt more relaxed afterwards, you’ve experienced the mental health benefits nature has to offer firsthand. Some studies have indicated that being out in nature has positive effects on mental health. Nature is so essential to good mental health that city dwellers are often at a much higher risk for mental health problems compared to the rest of the population.
If you live near a park or other area where you can access nature, taking a break to walk or just be in the natural world can help improve your mental health. If you live farther from nature, taking a trip to your closest park whenever possible can give you a break from regular life, which will generally improve symptoms of anxiety.
See a Mental Health Professional
While some cases of anxiety can be easily managed with relatively minor lifestyle interventions, other cases may do best with professional attention. You may decide to see a professional sooner than later, but if you have dealing with your anxiety for a long time without improvement, some signs that you need to see a professional may include the following:
- Your anxiety gets in the way of your work and/or interpersonal relationships
- It makes you physically ill
- You use drugs or alcohol to medicate it
- You feel that your anxiety inhibits your ability to enjoy life
For some, seeing a mental health professional is a difficult decision. If you are averse to taking medication, it’s important to realize that not all mental health treatment involves medication. Even CBT, which involves talking through issues, can be extremely helpful in getting to the root of your anxiety and managing your symptoms.
Essentially, while anxiety can feel extremely overwhelming, it is vital to realize that there are steps you can take to reduce it. Whether you take up cycling, go on weekly nature walks, or practice deep breathing, any of the above techniques will help to improve your general health as well as possibly reduce your anxiety symptoms. By being open to new approaches and being patient with yourself, you will be well on your way to improving your general health as well as your specific anxiety symptoms.”
About the author:
Lucy Miller is a nutrition student, marathon runner, and a passionate writer for Mind Your Zen, a brain nutrition supplement brand. She contributes on a number of blogs sharing useful health tips from her research as a nutrition student. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org