Unfortunately, there is no specific method that can completely stop anxiety from affecting you or someone you know. However, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do about it, as there are preventive measures that can alleviate these negative feelings and prevent them from interfering with your life.
Make It a Point to Help Your Mind
Given that anxiety disorders are considered as mental illnesses, it’s important that you practice techniques that target the brain and release pent-up feelings of anxiety. There are five ways you can do this:1,2
• Taking a deep breath: Proper breathing is vital in reducing anxiety, whether or not an anxiety attack has already occurred. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try deep and diaphragmatic breathing.
According to Marla W. Deibler, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, this type of breathing activates your body’s relaxation response.
It also aids you in shifting from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system, and toward the relaxed feedback of the parasympathetic nervous system.
◦ “Breathe in slowly and gently through your nose for about five to seven seconds.
◦ Hold your breath for at least three to four seconds.
◦ Breathe out slowly and gently through pursed lips as if you’re whistling for about seven to nine seconds.
◦ Repeat exercise 10 to 20 times.”
• Affirming yourself with positive self-talk: An effective way to counteract the negative thoughts that manifest when you’re anxious would be through positive statements that may be able to help you cope with these feelings.
Although some people may think that this method won’t suit them or that it’s easier said than done, some patients that have practiced this found it beneficial. Examples of statements that you could say to yourself include:
◦ “I’m OK. This is just anxiety and I will get over it.”
◦ “I have a great life and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
◦ “My anxiety won’t control me.”
◦ “I am calm.”
• Talking to a close friend or a person you trust about your situation: CalmClinic strongly advises, “Don’t be shy about your anxiety — tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.” Talking or confiding in someone you know takes your mind off the symptoms that you are facing and allows you to focus more on the person you’re talking to.
• Listening to music that boosts your mood: Choosing the right tunes (or making a playlist) to listen to when you’re anxious can make a difference. The key to making this technique work is not just to pick any song, artist or genre that you like, but happy or relaxing songs that you will appreciate.
The rule of thumb is to select songs that represent the way that you want to feel. If you haven’t figured out the type of music that will uplift your mood, or if you want new tunes to add to an already existing playlist, try browsing through music streaming applications like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music. You can also check music websites such as Soundcloud, 8Tracks or Last.fm to help you pick already-curated playlists.
• Focusing on the Now: According to Tom Corboy, a therapist and founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, “When people are anxious, they are usually obsessing about something that might occur in the future.” Another hallmark among anxious people is the tendency to think too much about what they feel.
This may sound cliché, but pausing, breathing and paying attention to what is happening at the moment is key in alleviating anxiety.
People with anxiety disorders or who just feel anxious about life in general should focus on trying to live a fruitful life on a daily basis, as opposed to having a train of thought that stresses on the elimination of anxious feelings as a whole. Applying this type of mentality will lead to these three benefits:
◦ Helping curb present feelings of anxiety and depression
◦ Helping lessen feelings of anxiety and depression in the long term
◦ Enhancing your ability to manage the situation
Your Lifestyle Plays a Role in Preventing Anxiety Too
Aside from helping your mind curb feelings of anxiety, make sure to incorporate changes to your lifestyle as well. These little tweaks can be beneficial for you and your anxiety in the long run:5
✓ Reducing consumption of caffeine and soda
✓ Getting regular exercise
✓ Following a healthy diet of fresh and organically grown fruits and vegetables, moderation portions of high-quality and grass-fed meats and substantial amounts of healthy fats
✓ Maintaining a regular sleep pattern
✓ Avoiding alcohol and cannabis
✓ Enlisting the help of a professional for counseling and support after a traumatic experience
✓ Checking with a physician or pharmacist if there are anxiety-inducing chemicals in certain over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies so that the risk of complications can be reduced