Everyone worries sometimes, but if that worry is excessive, persistent, or irrational, it can harm your health. Anxiety has been linked to a number of health problems, including digestive issues, heart disease, pain, headaches, insomnia, and frequent illnesses. Anxiety can also lead to depression and addiction. However, there are healthy ways to manage anxiety. Here are some ways to keep anxiety from damaging your health.
See your doctor
First, make sure your frequent headaches, stomach pains, or other symptoms don’t have a physical cause that you need to address. If your doctor thinks your problems are caused by anxiety, she might prescribe medication. Be careful using benzodiazepines or barbiturates. They will certainly reduce your anxiety, but they are also extremely addictive. SSRIs, which are also commonly prescribed for anxiety, appear to be safe for long-term use with no risk of addiction.
Talk to a therapist
A therapist can help you uncover the thinking that leads to your anxiety. Many people learn distorted thought patterns that cause them to worry unnecessarily about even minor things. They may believe that it would be disastrous if they made a mistake at work, when in reality, it would most likely be a minor inconvenience. Often, exposure therapy helps too. This is where you are gradually exposed to things that make you anxious, so you can learn you have nothing to fear.
Exercise has many benefits for the body and brain. It’s especially good for anxiety because it helps to slow your breathing and lower your resting heart rate and blood pressure. It also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which improves your mood. Exercise improves your self-control and ability to focus and regulate your emotions, making it easier to use the anxiety-reducing strategies you discussed with your therapist.
Food has a big impact on how you feel. If you eat a lot of sugary, processed food, you are going to feel more anxious and irritable. Avoid sugar as much as possible, especially soda. Blood sugar crashes can make you even more anxious and irritable. Also avoid unhealthy fats, such as those found in vegetable oils. Fried food is a huge source of unhealthy fats.
Take a few minutes every day to relax and watch your breath. In meditation, you allow yourself to be calm for a few minutes and let your thoughts come and go without getting attached. Having a more deliberate relationship with your thoughts keeps you from taking your worries too seriously.
Cut back on caffeine
While coffee and tea are perfectly fine for most people, if you struggle with anxiety, they could make it worse. Caffeine raises your heart rate and makes you more alert, which is fine for getting some work done, but it also feels a lot like anxiety. If you’re worried about panic attacks or anxiety-induced stomach problems, your morning coffee is not going to help at all.
Learn to relax
Make some time every day to deliberately relax. It could be something like drinking chamomile tea and listening to music, taking a hot bath, walking in nature, meditating, or doing progressive relaxation techniques. It might even be just taking a few deep breaths at your desk every hour or so. Just don’t plan to do all your relaxing on the weekend or once a year on vacation.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or anxiety, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.