7 Must-Try Ways to Alleviate Your Anxiety

Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Whether you're feeling the stress of employment changes, struggling with the pressure of being at home with your kids nonstop, or worried about COVID for the foreseeable future, one thing's certain: Our anxiety levels have gone through the roof since the start of 2020.

Mental healthcare is a huge topic right now because of the myriad of new challenges and stresses people are under. And it doesn't seem to be just one thing. Most households are experiencing new stress in several life categories that nobody saw coming. And these are, unsurprisingly, spurring on anxiety (or panic) attacks.

Here's the thing: some people don't even realize they're having panic attacks. For many, the feelings resemble that of what they imagine to be a heart attack. And that thought alone only makes it worse.

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It is extremely hard to know how to calm down anxiety, but it's even harder to know how to calm a panic attack or how to calm an anxiety attack when you don't know you're having one!

First of all, no two people are alike. But anxiety and panic attacks are understood well enough that we know tactics that can certainly help pull that anxiety down before it turns into a full-blown attack.

1. Yoga

Yoga is one of those disciplines that can swing majorly from physically challenging to extremely mellow and relaxing. It depends on the type of yoga you're doing (or class you're taking). But knowing yourself will help you understand which will be more beneficial to you.

If you've found that you release stress better when you're more physically active, then the more challenging yoga classes are for you.

If you find that you really just need some guided, quiet down-time for stretching and doing some mental calm sessions, the more mellow modalities may be just what you need.

2. Meditation

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Meditation is one of those practices that can be deeply misunderstood. This may be because of the fact that there are nine different types. This can be a little overwhelming, but the underlying likeness to all is learning to control your thoughts. This is important for anxiety because those panic attacks tend to happen from a cascade of thoughts that we don't control. Learn what the different types are, then choose one or two that would be the most beneficial. And remember that meditation is a practice that's learned, so don't get frustrated if you don't get it the first time... or tenth.

3. Find YOUR relaxation

Everybody has that thing (or things) that just allow them to let go and recharge with a better disposition than before. What's cool about this strategy is that there is no judgment. You and maybe your partner can know about this, but you don't have to advertise it to a single soul--it's totally what's wired in you to help you unwind and relax.

  • Make a list of things you love to do that help you unwind.
  • Try to list them in order of ranking,
  • then try one at a time to see which brings you the greatest amount of relaxation.
  • Then do that thing!

4. Talk to your doc

Sometimes getting some help from your doctor is the only way to function. Many people go through a period of anxiety attacks that render them unable to function in everyday life.

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Although there are always side-effects of turning to medication for help on this one, sometimes it takes that level of help to induce the calm and control needed to learn to manage it without medication. Don't be afraid to ask your physician for help in getting that control.

5. Exercise

Moving your body every day has been shown to dramatically reduce stress levels, and thereby, anxiety. According to Harvard Health:

"Engaging in exercise diverts you from the very thing you are anxious about.
Moving your body decreases muscle tension, lowering the body’s contribution to feeling anxious.
Getting your heart rate up changes brain chemistry, increasing the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals, including serotonin, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and endocannabinoids.
Exercise activates frontal regions of the brain responsible for executive function, which helps control the amygdala, our reacting system to real or imagined threats to our survival.
Exercising regularly builds up resources that bolster resilience against stormy emotions."

This adds up to a ton of benefits from exercise that strictly apply to the emotional centers of your health.

6. Good ole’ communication:

Communication is a time-old tradition, so this is one of those tactics that can seem like it helps magically. Getting feelings out of your head and into the open by spoken words can do wonders for your mental health.

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Now, I don't promote airing your dirty laundry to anyone who will listen, but there's definitely something to be said for a person or two that your trust with your life secrets to be a sounding board, and that won't judge your or your partner when you vent.

Just being able to talk sometimes lets you get it out and relieve some of the anxiety you're having about things.

Communication with others can be a very powerful thing if it's used in a purposeful way. Even if you choose to only speak to a therapist about it.

7. Change your diet

Lots of research is showing that sugar can wreak havoc on our bodies, and especially our guts. When we have gut imbalances, our minds pay the price. Much of the serotonin you produce happens right there in the gut. So when it's out of whack, you get brain fog, memory problems, irritability, and even anxiety problems.

The best way to do this is cut out added sugars, refined sugars, and refined flours from your diet. The result of doing this is added fiber, which feeds the good bacteria. But it also does something else: gets you off the blood-sugar rollercoaster, which also has a direct affect on our moods, stress levels, and anxiety tolerance. And it also helps energy levels every day, which we could all use.

Anxiety is definitely at an all-time high, but using these strategies can help shift you from a mega-stressed state on the verge of a panic attack into a more controlled awareness.

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My mission is to always find the magic middle where healthy + efficient merge. As a nutrition specialist and certified health coach with a master of science in nutrition, I firmly believe in nourishing the body, mind, and spirit with proper food, rest, movement, and stress management. My mission is to teach people how those CORE 4 things work together, how to do them on the daily, then put them on autopilot.

Montgomery, TX
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