Tackling a mental health concern, such as anxiety and panic attacks, can feel daunting. You may even find yourself not knowing where to begin; however, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Try developing these healthy habits on a daily basis to improve your emotional wellbeing.  

Reduce your caffeine intake

Caffeine is a stimulant that is associated with benefits, such as giving you a boost of energy and alertness.  However, it can also have many undesirable side effects, most of which mimic anxiety.  These include, agitation, sleep problems, restlessness, increased heart rate, nervousness, and stomach upset, among others. 

It’s a common misconception that caffeine is only found in coffee. Other products, such as tea, soda, chocolate, and certain over the counter medications also contain caffeine.  If you are a person prone to anxiety and panic attacks, take stock of all items you may be consuming that contain caffeine, and consider either reducing them or eliminating them altogether to minimize its negative consequences. Think creatively of ways you can replace your caffeine consumption so you don’t feel limited by this change, and to help ensure the habit will stick.  For example, substitute coffee with a flavourful herbal tea that is caffeine free. 

Exercise regularly and eat nutritiously  

Countless studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between exercise and better mental health.  Even five minutes of aerobic physical activity can begin to stimulate anxiety reduction.  Exercise also helps to improve your ability to sleep, which has been linked to reduced anxiety and panic attacks. 

A healthy and balanced diet as well staying hydrated by drinking enough water and limiting your alcohol intake is also important.  According to the Harvard Health Blog, several types of foods have been found to decrease anxiety. For instance, complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice or oatmeal, are metabolized at a slower rate. This helps to regulate blood sugar level and create a sense of calmness. Diets rich in magnesium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids may also have a positive impact on your anxiety.  Consider speaking with your doctor, or other health professional, to learn more about the foods and physical activities that are best for you. 

Practice relaxation techniques 

Relaxation is important for good overall health. When you are relaxed, your muscles are loose, your heart rate is normal, your breathing is slow, and your body releases chemicals that promote emotional wellbeing.  Relaxation is more than resting or enjoying a hobby, it entails using strategies to reduce tension.  You can use your breath to help you relax, such as sitting quietly for a few minutes to focus on taking slow and consistent deep in and out breaths.  You may also find it enjoyable to listen to a guided meditation or imagery exercise using a C.D. or YouTube.  

Maintain a good sleep routine

Many people with anxiety have trouble sleeping.  What’s worse, not sleeping enough in of itself can be anxiety provoking. In order to get both enough and good quality sleep, review our article, Tips for Getting a Better Night’s Sleep. 

If your mind starts racing the second your head hits the pillow, try regularly integrating a relaxation technique into your bedtime routine. 

Resist to urge to avoid your anxiety triggers

Given how frightening and uncomfortable anxiety and panic attack symptoms feel, it isn’t uncommon to want to avoid any place, situation, or person that triggers this distress.  More often than not, people with anxiety will change their behaviour or routines to circumvent feeling anxious or panicked. This avoidance can become so engrained in your daily life, that you may even have developed the belief that you no longer have anxiety.  The challenge is that avoiding anxiety triggers can detrimentally impact your quality of life and overall functioning. As an example, if you stop or limit driving because of the anxiety you experience while on the road, it may disrupt your social life and work attendance.  What’s more, without exposure to triggering situations, you never provide yourself with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to overcome anxiety. 

It’s natural to be apprehensive about confronting your triggers. Start with less anxiety provoking ones and gradually work towards more complex scenarios.  Lightwell also has treatment programs specifically targeted at overcoming anxiety and panic symptoms to assist you. Visit our services page for more information.

 

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