Mental health matters! Our top tips on how to cope with anxiety
Did you know that over 275 million people worldwide suffer from anxiety? Around 62% of those struggling with anxiety are women, and the remainder is men. With anxiety being so prevalent in our world, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top tips for dealing with anxiety.
What happens to your body when you have anxiety?
Whether you suffer from an anxiety disorder, depression, or both, it’s sometimes a good idea to understand what happens inside your body when you feel these things – this has certainly helped me. Our biological responses to the world can help explain why we feel the way we do.
What is fight or flight?
When you are anxious, your body goes into a ‘fight or flight’ response. This response is programmed into our bodies from back in the day when we had to hunt dangerous animals. When the body goes into this state, your brain can’t distinguish between a physical threat and anxiety.
What happens on the inside?
Our brains are wired to respond to any threat by having our sympathetic nervous system kick in and, as a result, all kinds of strange things happen to the body, like increased heart rate and breathing, and a more rapid release of stress hormones – such as cortisol and adrenalin – into our bloodstream.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Before we get into the ways you can cope with anxiety, you might want to hear what some of the common symptoms are so that you can determine if you are actually experiencing anxiety.
It’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint anxiety as its symptoms can also be caused by other conditions and stress.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- A racing heart.
- Shortness of breath.
- Extreme fatigue and brain fog.
- Poor sleep.
- Pain in the muscles.
- Stomach and digestion problems.
- Getting sick often.
- Bloating or pain in your tummy.
- Racing thoughts.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s possible that you may be feeling anxious.
So, what can you do if you’re struggling with anxiety? Let’s look at some healthy coping mechanisms.
Whether you get your daily fix from a cup of coffee, an energy drink, or caffeinated energy bars, caffeine can not only trigger anxiety, but it can make any anxiety you are experiencing 10 times worse.
Due to the brain fog that anxiety causes, it may be tempting to reach for a strong cup of coffee to get you through the day. But this can actually worsen your fatigue and take your anxiety to an all-time high.
If you are suffering from anxiety, try as much as possible to reduce your caffeine intake.
I have cut down to one cup of coffee a day when I wake up in the morning, and the difference has been amazing to see.
Get some movement in your day
When you’re anxious, the thought of going to the gym or going for a walk and facing other people can feel super daunting.
However, getting movement into your day can work wonders for relieving anxiety symptoms and regulating the release of hormones into your bloodstream. It also releases a happy hormone called endorphins into your body which can help you cope better.
Even just some simple stretches or some slow yoga will do. Any movement should bring you some relief if you’re struggling with anxiety.
I search for stretching videos on YouTube to do on my yoga mat at home – give it a try!
Practice breathing exercises
There’s nothing worse than when you’re feeling anxious, and someone tells you to “just breathe” as if it’s going to make your anxiety go away magically.
However, there is scientific evidence that proves that focusing on your breath – even if you’re not doing a deep breathing exercise – can help ground you and make you feel more present.
But if you do want to try deep breathing as a way to relieve anxiety, here is an exercise you can try:
- Breathe in for the count of four.
- Hold your breath for the count of four.
- Breathe out for the count of four.
- Hold your breath for the count of four.
This is called box breathing, and you can repeat this rhythm for one to two minutes, and you can do it as many times as you need to throughout the day.
A great app that can help guide you through various exercises is called Breathe. It’s available for both iOS and Android
Surrounding yourself with certain scents can make you feel a whole lot better. Whether you use a diffuser to fill your room with essential oils or a roller that lets you apply essential oils to your pulse points, aromatherapy is a great way not only to relieve anxiety but to ground you at the same time as you have a scent to focus on.
Some great essential oils for anxiety are:
- Clary sage.
I pop a few drops of lavender and bergamot essential oils in my diffuser and let it run throughout the day.
I’ve always been quite resistant to the idea of journaling. How can scribbling words on paper help me feel less anxious? Especially seeing as my thoughts are racing faster than I can write.
One day, I just picked up a pen and started letting the words flow and – who would’ve thought – I started feeling much calmer than before.
Anxiety can be caused by all kinds of things, but for me personally, it’s often triggered by my wanting to control the things that are outside of my control. When I journal, I make lists of what I can and can’t control – seeing this in black and white gives your brain a clear message about what to focus on.
Wrapping up on how to cope with anxiety
These are the tips and tricks that have helped me deal with anxiety. They won’t work for everyone, and you may not be 100% comfortable with all of them. But I do encourage you to try at least one for a couple of days and see if there’s any difference in your anxiety.
Know that the bia tribe is ALWAYS here for you! We’re rooting for you, and we’re ready to support you through your mental health journey. Connect with our community on Instagram, and let’s chat.
Haircare for the soul, charged with positivity.