How to Deal with Anxiety

Anxiety varies greatly in severity and duration. Some anxiety can be helpful, as it can help us focus and be more productive. For example, if you have an exam tomorrow, being anxious will help you to focus on your studies and not be distracted. However, anxiety can be a very strong and overwhelming emotion, and if it is chronic it can be debilitating on your life. The following are some tried-and-true methods on how to deal with anxiety:

Find a way to distract yourself. When you are feeling anxious, and perhaps feel that you may get an anxiety attack, engage your brain with something else. Have a conversation with someone, watch a movie attentively, do some mental arithmetic, work on a word puzzle, try to remember the words of song, draw, notice as much details as possible about the people around you, etc… The key thing is to stop thinking about whatever you are thinking and focus on something else.

Exercise. Exercise is a great anxiety-buster. It helps to burn off physical energy, will soothe out tension in your muscles, will distract you from thinking about your problems, and will cause the body to release chemicals called endorphins which have a calming and euphoric effect. Do some push ups, skip rope, go for a jog, hit the weights, do a round with the punching bag, or participate in a sport.
Eat healthy, mood-boosting foods. This does not mean chocolate, cake or coffee. Rather, go for healthier options which have been shown to boost mood, brain function, and are protective against a number of ailments. Examples of such foods are all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, legumes, low-fat yogurt and soy.

Slow down your breathing. As anxiety kicks in, breathing generally goes up. However, fast breathing actually makes anxiety worse. Instead, you should consciously slow down your breathing, and concentrate of taking deep breaths. Belly breathing can be especially calming – put your hands on your stomach and let it expand when you inhale and contract when you exhale.

Don’t think too far ahead. Although it can be useful to plan ahead sometimes, you shouldn’t obsess too much about the future and the problems which may crop up as these may never materialize and it can be very disruptive to your life. Concentrate on the present and tackle problems one at a time.
Look for beauty in everyday life. If you’re stuck in a bad traffic jam, look up at the clouds. If you’re walking in a very busy street, look at the flower in that small garden. Whenever you have the time, go to places which have a calming effect, such as a park or beach. However, you can find beautiful and calming things everywhere if you look for them. Too many people concentrate on the negative and fail to see the positive.