10 top tips to overcome anxiety

According to the Mental Health Foundation UK, anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the UK and elsewhere, yet it is still under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated. 

While 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole. Anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 3.3% of children and young adults in the UK, and this is rising with exam and course work demands, cyber bullying and social pressures.

But, help is at hand. The good news is that YOU can do something to take CONTROL of the all-consuming anxiety to promote harmony in your life once more. At desperate times, you may feel that medication is the answer. But in my experience, it just masks the symptoms and doesn’t get to the root cause of the issue. Addressing your lifestyle choices and slowly making changes to these is really the only way forward to making a difference in the long term.

If you really want to take control of the symptoms of anxiety and be free from the limiting effects of this debilitating mental disorder, then read on and take these tips into consideration in your own life:

  1. Eat well. What we eat has a huge effect on our moods and emotions as well as our physical well-being. A diet high in sugar, bad fats and salts plays havoc with our hormones and therefore emotions with highs and lows which end in cravings. It is essential to get a healthy balance of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains in the diet for optimum function of the body and endocrine system. Having a freshly made healthy veg/fruit juice once a day can have a huge impact by increasing energy levels, helps you feel more alert, sense of well-being, reduces cravings and balances hormones.  The Nutri-Bullet or Nutri Ninja juice blenders are really quick and easy alternative to juicing for those with limited time and low budgets; nutri bullet even does a 3 month finance plan to spread the cost of around £99 which is a steal when you consider the impact it will have on your overall health. Check out these 10 stress-busting superfoods that you should include in your diet.

  2. Get support. Firstly, recognise the symptoms of anxiety and if you think this is effecting you then tell someone. When you have the support and understanding of others, they can help you to regain control and confidence over anxiety. You are not alone – most people experience anxiety to some degree in their life. 

  3. Regulate your sleep pattern. Getting enough sleep is imperative to the effective production of serotonin (happy hormone) and absorption of essential nutrients in the body. During the first two hours of sleep, the subconscious mind assimilates all the information from the day and this causes cortisol (stress hormone) fluctuations, that’s when we dream. During deep sleep, you slip into the unconscious mind and the body carries out essential healing, nutrient absorption and serotonin production. If we don’t get enough sleep, we over produce cortisol and under produce serotonin – that’s why we feel grumpy when we don’t get enough. To create a healthier sleep pattern: avoid eating a heavy meal 3-4 hours before bed; go to bed at a regular time each night and set an alarm each morning; avoid napping in the day, avoid TV/computers/video games/smartphones 2 hours before bed; avoid caffeine/stimulants; try a guided meditation or deep relaxation CD before bed and keep a notepad by the bed to write down any worries or things you have to do that are nagging in your head.

  4. Ditch stimulants. That includes: caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sugar  etc. You may feel that they initially help to calm you down, but actually they mess with your hormone production and create the ups and downs in your mood that you really want to regulate.

  5. Get some exercise. Even as little as 20 minutes a day of walking can have a positive effect on your mental and emotional well-being. Exercise releases endorphins which promote a better sense of self image as well as the physical benefits of exercise. Due to busy lives, demanding work schedules and modern technology, we as a society are living much more sedentary lives which can lead to obesity, increased stress levels, high blood pressure and all the diseases they can lead to if you don’t take action now. So find an exercise buddy, walk at lunchtime, take the stairs or join a yoga class – get out there and enjoy feeling fitter and stronger!

  6. Learn to say NO. Taking too much on with work, school or family/friend commitments can be draining and overwhelming. You need to learn the art of saying NO so that you can regain time for your own needs, reduce stress and avoid multi-tasking at every opportunity to get everything done. A bit of stress is good in most cases as it keeps us motivated and on the ball. But too much ends up taking its toll on our mental well-being and if you don’t speak up then people will keep loading you up. It won’t look like your weak, uncaring or unable, just be firm, explain your reasons and leave it at that and people will understand. It is YOUR life after all!

  7. Phones/laptops/tablets/electronic games… ahhhh! Wherever possible try to reduce interaction with these devices as they can become addictive and put a social pressure on us to reply to texts/emails/social media messages/calls even if we just don’t have time. Phones do everything these days – your alarm, email, text, social media, music, camera etc. That means we can literally feel lost without it which is ridiculous. Its great to be connected, but not to the detriment of your mental health. It can be very liberating to disconnect from the digital world for a period of time – try it for a day and notice how you feel. I understand it can be unavoidable, so perhaps just have a switch off point in the day when you say ‘no more’ and have a couple of hours off. In particular, avoid these devices first thing in the morning (get an alarm clock) and last thing at night. The internet, TV and video games keep our mind agitated for hours after and should be avoided directly before bed. Try reading a book instead.

  8. Take a break from Social Media. I have spoken to so many people lately who have expressed that the addictive nature of social media have caused them to feel anxious and low. From ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out, bullying comments, being left out, feeling inadequate, finding out stuff you don’t really want to know (ex’s, partners, friends etc) to just the overwhelming sense of attachment you have to social media can all have detrimental effects on overall mental health. Take a look at your relationship with social media and if you feel it is appropriate, take a break and if you decide to go back to it, do it with a healthier attitude of non-attachment.

  9. Try Holistic therapy.  Herbal remedies such as Valerian (for sleep), camomile tea (to soothe and calm), St John’s wort (for mild depression), Kalms (alleviates anxiety symptoms) and Bachs Rescue remedy (for panick attacks) can all help with symptoms. Attending  a regular yoga class, signing up for a meditation & mindfulness course, or trying a reiki or relaxation session can promote well-being, healing and feel good vibes. You can also use the breath to calm the mind. Just counting to ten with slow deep breaths can reduce tension.

  10. Get out in nature. The sunshine always makes people feel happy so whenever possible get out and enjoy it – even if just for a few minutes. Being outside in nature (forest, beach, mountain, woodland or field) can help ground us and reconnect us with the earth which encourages feel good feelings. Walking with bare feet helps to transmute negative energy leaving space for positive calming energy. 

Remember, trying to change everything at once is too overwhelming and ultimately unachievable, so aim to make small changes over time to achieve long term results. Be kind to yourself and try to remain positive with your thoughts and words. You are an extraordinary being which is made from love and exists with love so try to cultivate that in your everyday life and remember that you are not alone.

Kali Pearce