On a recent interview with Cure Joy, I was asked to elaborate on certain changes one can make to their lifestyle (as preventive measures) to help cure anxiety. By creating a different environment for yourself, one with positive and mindful choices on everything from your activity level to your social life can assure ways to help you diminish potential risks to higher levels of anxiety and stress! Set the stage for success by making conscious decisions to promote relaxation, vitality, and a positive mental outlook in your everyday life. I provided some suggestions that included:
- Learning about anxiety.
- Cultivating your connections with other people.
- Adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
- Reducing stress in your life
In this article I will continue to elaborate on the third point:
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits.
As mentioned previously, making conscious decisions in your daily routine like cultivating your connections with other people and learning about anxiety, can greatly improve your overall health and relationship to anxiety and stress.
Although, these are all very important to help you manage anxiety in your everyday life one of the most recommended by health care professionals remains physical activity. Making time for regular exercise in your schedule relieves tension and anxiety. Walking, running, yoga, zumba, samba, banghra! Find out what your body likes, what puts a smile on your face!
You can always start out small like walking during your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator…taking an exercise class. Do some research of what is being offered out there! There are tons of new and fun classes that are of low cost. If you have never really exercised or you are finding it hard to get inspired by your regular exercise routine, taking classes can help gain new direction and you may find even more of what you enjoy doing. Once you start to enjoy your exercise preference you will be inspired to try different things that can bring with them a new level of enjoyment to your life.
Anxiety can deplete your energy and ability to concentrate.Studies have shown time and again that a consistent form of exercise can effectively reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. The inability to enjoy daily activities which is often associated to anxiety can be counteracted by purposefully installing a daily regimen of physical activity.
Physical activity produces endorphins:
Endorphins (“endogenous morphine“)which are among the brain chemicals are produced by the pituitary gland and thehypothalamus during exercise (University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, 2008).Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and induce an overall feeling of well-being.
As you start to adopt healthier daily habits it would prove beneficial to undertake meditation or relaxation techniques.Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins.Studies of acupuncture and massage therapy have shown that both of these techniques can stimulate endorphin secretion. Sex is also a potent trigger for endorphin release.As well, the practice of meditation can increase the amount of endorphins released in your body (Stoppler&Shiel, Jr, 2007).
Engaging in mindful activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. can greatly enhance your minds’ ability to focus and relax. Your body and mind engage simultaneously and this can prove to be very therapeutic. Even if you don’t think yourself as the “creative type”…take out a piece of paper and pencil or pen, for example and begin to “doodle” see what shapes this creates. Engage in your mind’s natural ability to create new connections without your critical thoughts interfering. See where this takes you. Anxiety can often take a hold by repeating self-defeating words or assumptions about ourselves and the situation that is causing worry, over and over again. By allowing your mind to wonder purposefully you might surprise yourself as to what new directions it takes you. New possibilities and a new perspective on an old problem can arise!
Using alcohol and/ or drugs is how some deal with their anxiety. As you start to get serious about changing your lifestyle and promoting a healthier way of coping, try to avoid resorting to these substances for support.
While some substances can suppress the feeling of anxiety temporarily, like alcohol, it can also result in avoiding directly dealing with what the root of your anxiety is and when you come back from your suppressed state, the anxiety comes back even stronger. When suffering from anxiety, using stimulants such as caffeine (found in some chocolates, sodas and coffee) and nicotine (found in cigarettes) can heighten your level of anxiety and can also cause insomnia.
While caffeine has several positive effects such as incrementing your level of energy and mental alertness, it is considered a stimulant and stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature which then heighten your level of anxiety. If you are finding it difficult to quit any harmful substance please seek help!
As you start to implement healthier habits into your lifestyle you will start to feel the difference this makes on the level of anxiety you feel.