We’ve all read the tips, heard suggestions, and listened to other people talk about how to combat anxiety. Somehow, we never really manage to get rid of it, it just keeps coming back. The truth is: you can never absolutely get rid of anxiety, you can only manage it. Who doesn’t have worries and things to stress about. Show me one adult who has never experienced anxiety. I want to know their secrets.

As an adult, anxiety is par for the course. At some point in our lives, we’ve all lost sleep over something worrisome. I know you’re familiar with the “symptoms”: racing thoughts, sleepless nights, tightening of the chest, shortness of breath, impaired decision making, to name a few. Here are 7 strategies to ease your anxiety. While they won’t make the root of the problem go away, they can at least help you manage your anxiousness and help you lead a better, more productive life.

Breathe

You may not have noticed this, because you’re busy being anxious, but the first sign of anxiety is shallow and rapid breathing. When this happens, you don’t get enough oxygen into your system. This could cause a whole host of problems. Your brain gets foggy – that’s why you have trouble concentrating and making decisions. Your heart rate increases – that’s why you feel tired or in a constant state of emergency. Your digestive system is sluggish – that’s why you have tummy problems. If you can take a minute (or five!) to focus on your breathing, you’ll be a step closer to easing your anxiety. Focus on intentional deep breathing and inhale deeply through your nose. Hold it for a few seconds and then release, imagine your anxiety leaving as you exhale. Repeat as often as needed.

Sleep

I know. Sleep is very hard to come across when you have anxiety. But you have to practise good sleep hygiene especially if you’re experiencing anxiety. It’s when you need sleep the most. Start by protecting your bedtime schedule fiercely, like a lioness protects her cubs. Set a bedtime schedule and stick to it no matter what. Eventually, your body will get with the program and follow the routine you set for it. It would help to set the “mood”, too. Get some blackout curtains. Set the temperature to something cozy. Diffuse or spray some lavender. Drink sleepytime tea. Anything to help you get your much needed rest.

Check your diet

When you’re deep in an anxiety attack, eating junk food is like adding insult to injury. Having anxiety doesn’t give you license to binge on ice cream or pudding. It is during times like these that we should be more careful of what we put in our bodies. Sugar, caffeine, and processed foods, while helpful in the short term, can wreak havoc on our health in the long run. Don’t stop caring for yourself even when you have anxiety.

Bust the negative self talk

You wouldn’t tell a friend that he/she is going to “screw it up”, “never get this done”, “blow the presentation” “won’t be good enough”, right? Please, enough with the negative self talk. Negative thoughts become negative feelings. Talk kindly to yourself. Be kind to yourself.

Feelings are not facts

The key to understanding and accepting your anxiety is to come to terms with the facts that how you feel isn’t always how it is. Sometimes, we blow things out of proportion. The magnitude of how we see our problems isn’t always accurate.

Exercise

Elle Woods of Legally Blonde said it best when she said “endorphins make you happy”. Guess which hormones fire up when you exercise? Not only do you get an endorphin boost when you exercise, you also get a boost of confidence, a fist bump to your self esteem, and a rockin’ body to go along with that awesomeness!

Self care

While you’re worrying about everything and everyone else, don’t forget the most important person in your life – YOU. Before you can solve any problems or take care of other people, you have to take care of yourself first. So go ahead, schedule some ME time. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. When things get overwhelming, dont; forget that you can always ask for help. Talk to friends, find a local counselor and get counseling. You can also seek help from online resources or talk to someone online.