Simple habits like hugging friends and writing about anxieties help to control anxiety and reduce stress
Fear and anxiety are normal experiences for most people. In general, anxiety is a healthy feeling, which helps us to anticipate dangers and find solutions to survive. But it is necessary to control anxiety, preventing it from becoming a daily struggle. Some habits like drinking less coffee, spending more time with loved ones, or writing about your anxieties are some techniques on how to control anxiety. Check out 15 tips!
1. Practice physical exercises
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Exercise is one of the best things you can do to combat anxiety and stress relief. It may seem different, but putting some environmental stress on your body during exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than people who don’t exercise (see the study on 1 ).
There are a few reasons behind this:
Stress hormones: Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones – such as cortisol – in the long run. It also helps to release endorphins, chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural pain relievers;
Sleep: exercise can also improve your quality of sleep, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety;
Confidence: when you exercise regularly, you can feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental well-being.
Try to find an exercise routine or activities that you enjoy, such as running, dancing, rock climbing, or playing football. Activities such as walking or running, which involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups, can particularly relieve stress.
Find out more in the article ” 10 benefits of regular physical exercise “
2. Consider using natural herbs and supplements
Various supplements promote reduced stress and anxiety. Here is a summary of some of the most common ones:
Lemon balm: a member of the mint family, it was studied for its anti-anxiety effects (see a study on 2 );
Omega-3 fatty acids: a study showed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms ( 3 );
Ashwagandha: This herb is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and anxiety. Several studies suggest that it is effective ( 4 );
Green tea: covers many polyphenol antioxidants that provide health benefits. It can decrease stress and anxiety, increasing serotonin levels ( 5 );
Valerian: this root is a popular sleep aid for its tranquilizing effect. Contains allergenic acid, which alters gamma-amicability acid (GABS) receptors to decrease anxiety
Kava-kava: a psychoactive member of the pepper family, it is used as a sedative in the South Pacific, and increasingly used in Europe and the USA to treat mild stress and anxiety ( 6 ).
Some supplements may interact with medications or have side effects. Therefore, before consuming any of these products, seek medical advice.
3. Use essential oils
Using essential oils or burning a natural, scented candle are techniques that can help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Know some especially calming aromas
Orange or orange blossom
Using essential oils to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep (check the studies on 7, 8, and 9 ).
4. Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, teas, chocolate drinks, and energy. High doses can increase anxiety ( 10 ), but each person has a different tolerance.
If you find that caffeine makes you nervous or anxious, consider reducing your dose. Many studies show that drinking coffee in moderation is healthy, but more sensitive people can experience adverse effects with small doses of caffeine. In general, up to five cups (of coffee) per day is considered a moderate amount.
One way to control anxiety is to write things down. You can record the anxieties you are feeling as well as the events of your day for which you are grateful, as well as facts that made you happy.
Gratitude can help relieve stress and is a way to control anxiety, allowing you to focus your thoughts on what is positive in your life. Find out more: ” Gratitude brings positive changes for you and others “.
6. Spend time with friends and family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times. Being part of a network of friends offers a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in difficult times.
One study found that, especially for women, spending time with friends and children helps to release oxytocin, a natural tranquilizer. This effect is called “caring and making friends” and is the opposite of the fight or flight response ( 13 ).
Remember that men and women benefit from friendship. Another study found that men and women with fewer social connections were more likely to experience depression and anxiety ( 14 ).
It is difficult to feel anxiety when you are laughing. Laughing is good for health mainly for two reasons: it relieves the stress response and also relaxes the tension accumulated in the muscles. In the long run, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughing intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted ( 15 ). Try watching a funny TV show, calling, or hanging out with friends that make you laugh.
8. Learn to say no
It is not possible to control all the stressors in the world, but some of them do. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change that cause you anxiety. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often.
This is especially true if you commit to more tasks than you can handle, as handling too many responsibilities can make you feel overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on – and saying no to things that will unnecessarily increase your load – can reduce your stress levels.
9. Learn to avoid procrastination
Another way to control anxiety is to keep your tasks and priorities up to date, leaving procrastination aside.
Procrastination can cause you to act reactively, causing you to enter a mode of permanent mental struggle with your agenda. This can cause stress and anxiety, which affects your health and the quality of your sleep ( 16 ).
Get into the habit of making a task list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and go ok with the tasks on the list.
Work on the things that need to be done today and divide your tasks into chunks of time unique to each one. Start an item on your list and take the time to complete the task, as switching from one task to another or trying to multitask can be stressful.
10. Take a yoga class
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief among all age groups. Although there are several styles of yoga, most share a common goal – to promote the union of body and mind. Yoga does this mainly by increasing body and respiratory awareness.
Some studies have examined the effect of yoga on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can improve mood and may even be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression and anxiety (see studies on this: 17 ).
However, many of these studies are limited and there are still doubts about how yoga works to reduce stress. In general, the benefits of yoga for stress and anxiety seem to be related to its effect on the nervous system and the stress response. The technique can help reduce cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases mood disorders.
11. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you in the present moment. Practiced meditation techniques can help to combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking ( 18 ).
There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, yoga itself, and meditation techniques. A recent study among university students suggests that mindfulness can help increase self-esteem, which reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression ( 18 ).
12. Exchange hugs with loved ones
Hugging, kissing, and having sex can help relieve stress and anxiety (see studies on this: 19 and 20 ). Positive physical contact can help to release Oxycontin and lower cortisol. This helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which are physical symptoms of stress.
Interestingly, humans are not the only animals that hug to relieve stress. Chimpanzees also embrace stressed friends ( 21 ).
13. Listen to soft music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow-paced instrumental music can induce a relaxation response, helping to control blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American, and Indian music can be particularly comforting, but simply listening to music you like is also effective ( 22 ). The sounds of nature are also very calming. That is why they are usually incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
14. Take a deep breath
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling to your body that it’s time to go into “fight or flight” mode. During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and constricted blood vessels.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic, abdominal, abdominal, and respiratory breathing. The pranayama, yoga breathing exercises can also help.
The purpose of deep breathing is to focus your attention on the breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe deeply through your nose, your lungs expand completely and your belly rises. This helps to lower your heart rate, allowing you to feel more relaxed. This video explains how to practice diaphragmatic breathing.
15. Spend time with your pet
Having a pet can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Interaction with pets helps to release oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that promotes a positive mood ( 23 ).
Having a pet can also help relieve stress, give it a purpose, keep it active and provide companionship – qualities that help control anxiety.
Although stress and anxiety can arise in the workplace and personal life, there are many simple ways to reduce the pressure you feel. These tips usually involve diverting your mind from sources of anxiety.
Exercise, attention, music, and physical intimacy can all work to relieve and control anxiety – and will also improve your overall work-life balance. But, if anxiety is very disruptive to your life or manifests itself in physical symptoms, do not hesitate to seek professional help.