Anxiety is something that is ingrained in humans. It developed as part of the “fight or flight” response that helped our ancestors make quick decisions in the face of an external threat: to either confront it or run away.
Today, we need not evade predators anymore, but anxiety still floods our bodies in sometimes helpful and mostly negative ways.
While certain scenarios such as public speaking, job interviews, and first dates can trigger anxiety, the feeling can be debilitating for some people.
Here are some strategies you can employ to combat your anxiety.
1. Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness is a popular method of staving off anxiety. A number of apps with easy-to-understand guides to mindfulness have rocketed into top positions in app stores for smart devices.
Simply put, mindfulness is the study of trying to stay in the moment.
When you are able to take in only your immediate environment and limit your focus to the task at hand, you can achieve a state of mindfulness.
Learning how to free your mind of things you can’t control – like things that have happened in the past – can leave you feeling like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders.
2. Control your breathing
It isn’t always easy to deploy a technique or strategy when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, but breathing exercises are one way you can attempt to regain a level of calm regardless of where you are.
An NHS-endorsed breathing technique involves breathing in through your nose (counting for five seconds) and breathing out through your mouth (counting for another five seconds) and repeating this process for a few minutes.
3. Exercise often
Anxiety is a human response to an external stimulus. By putting your body through its paces, you can counteract the paralysing effect of anxiety by prompting your body to release serotonin and dopamine.
Exercising regularly can provide you with a steady stream of mood-boosting endorphins, which conditions your body to fight back against the debilitating effects of anxiety.
Going for a walk to clear your head is one example but you’ll need to challenge yourself if you want to reap the liberating rewards of sustaining physically demanding exercise.
A runner’s high isn’t just a figure of speech; it’s a real thing that is worth pursuing.
While it can be tempting to turn to alcohol, drugs or gambling as a means of dealing with anxiety, exercising regularly is an extremely healthy way of dealing with it.
Anxiety isn’t necessarily something that can be overcome completely, but it can definitely be managed.
Taking the time to test a variety of strategies will help you decide on the ones that really work for you.
Don’t expect instant success, slow and steady progress is something worth aiming for.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. You can connect with him on Twitter @drelojo_howell.