Living with anxiety is exhausting, very difficult and not only affects our mental health, but also affects our physical health. A recent study has just reported that not only does stress and anxiety increase our cortisol levels (a stress hormone, which plays a part in many health problems and diseases), it also reduces the effectiveness of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy. So really important to get on top of and overcome.
Here are some steps you can take that might help:
- Talk to someone you trust or consider Talking therapies, such as Psychotherapists, specialising in NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or Therapeutic Hypnotherapy. It is important you are challenged to help you move forward. If you talk to someone who just listens, this will only cement negatives into your unconscious mind, making it harder to move on.
- Focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. This is vital in any work when changing your thought processes and behaviours.
- Take responsibility for your own self. You are the only person who ultimately can change how you think, so find the way that helps you take control of the anxiety, even if it is seeking help from an expert and become the calm, accepting, relaxed person you want to be.
- Try to manage your worries using meditation and mindfulness and practice deep breathing exercises. Bring yourself out of your head and into your body and the Now!
- Take regular exercise - it’s important for your physical and emotional health. Exercise helps use up all those biochemicals and hormones we produce to flee or fight, helping you to feel better all round. You may experience anxiety relief for hours after working out.
- Avoid Alcohol, smoking and caffeine, all of which can worsen anxiety symptoms. Contrary to what people think these actually cause more anxiety and stress, rather than help deal with it.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet - Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods may cause mood changes in some people. A high-sugar diet may also impact on mood and temperament. Stay hydrated, be mindful of the processed foods you eat and eat a healthy diet rich in complex, Low GI, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, oily fish and healthy dairy foods.
- Keep a diary or a gratitude journal - writing thoughts and feelings down can help you keep things in perspective and improve focus on positive things.
- Complementary and alternative therapies such as massage, Acupuncture, reflexology, herbal treatments, homeopathy and hypnotherapy are all therapies that you could try and see if they work for you. Some people find that one or more of these methods can help them to relax, or sleep better. Basically, it’s important to prioritise some time for you!
There are also many useful organisations out there to support you, such as Anxiety Care, Anxiety UK, No More Panic, No Panic and Triumph Over Phobia UK websites. There are also a number of self help books on the market that could also guide you.
Sometimes it might be difficult to work out whether your symptoms are totally related to anxiety or could be a more serious medical disorder. If you're experiencing any physical symptoms and are unsure, it's always a good idea to talk to your GP, so they can rule out any other problems.