5 Essential Steps To Reduce Your Anxiety
Did you know that “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older?” That comes to about 18% of U.S. population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association Of America.
I know that these numbers seem shockingly high, especially considering that the U.S. is one of the wealthiest and modern nations in the world. But judging from the problems I see in my clients on a daily basis, I know that anxiety is a huge struggle for a ton of people. Indecision, self-doubt, fear of failure are all part of the greater picture of anxiety.
Personally, I am very familiar with anxiety as well and know how debilitating it can be. In fact, in my mid to late 20s, I dealt with a lot with overwhelming amounts of negative thoughts, self-doubts, and worries. I often felt quite paralyzed and helpless. From my work as a coach, I also know that anxiety can show up differently for different people, so a personalized approach to releasing anxiety is definitely recommended.
The good news is that there are a number of things everybody can do to ease anxiety; here are five tips that will help you begin to live a calmer life.
1. Eliminate or reduce your coffee consumption.
I know, it sucks! And many of you don’t like hearing it, but coffee was the number one thing that exacerbated my feelings of anxiety and worry on a daily basis. Reducing my coffee intake to one cup per day or none at all has helped me enormously in feeling calmer, more relaxed, and less antsy and wired. If you like having something warm, try herbal teas.
2. Avoid (excess) sugar and refined, empty carbs.
Sugar and "white carbs" can put you on a constant blood sugar roller coaster. You experience temporary relief, or a “high,” followed by an irritable and anxious low. Sugar is highly addictive, and it can be hard to ditch your sugar habits. However, balancing your blood sugar is key in order to maintain a calm, even, and resilient mindset.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Chronically comparing yourself to other people will keep you from ever feeling good about yourself. What you see on the outside is very misleading and doesn’t accurately reflect other people’s real lives and emotional well-being. Self-comparison is based on comparing your own reality with the idealized illusions you form about someone else’s life. It’s not a fair comparison and won’t lead you to happiness or better decision-making. It’s also easy to slip into victimizing yourself and believing you've been dealt bad cards, which is simply not true and actually brings you further away from feeling empowered to create a life you love. Focus on yourself, your own process, and what feels right for you.
4. Re-evaluate your expectations.
Are you really not worth anything because your thighs touch and your stomach isn’t flat? Are you really a failure because you didn’t get that one job two years ago? Do you really not deserve the attention of someone amazing and caring? Telling yourself that you're only worthy if you're perfect creates expectations that you will never be able to meet. You will chronically feel behind, “not ready,” or not good enough. Nothing creates more anxiety than the feeling that what you really desire is out of your reach.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is based on the art of perceiving and simply experiencing instead of on passing judgment. Being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they are true for you requires both practice and patience. The truth is that most of us aren’t very in tune with what’s going on for us, because our attention is constantly focused on external perceptions. Make it a habit to turn inward on a daily basis and observe yourself without judgment. Asking yourself simple questions like “How am I feeling?” or “How does my body feel today?” can go a long way.
In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you: What’s your takeaway from this article? Which of these five tips do you want to try?
Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.