6 Self-Care Changes to Reduce Anxiety
It’s now been a year and a half since the pandemic started, and there is no end in sight. The pandemic has caused drastic changes in our daily lives, routines, death of loved ones, and our ability to even see loved ones. These changes have resulted in feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and grief, just to name a few. Currently many of my patients are experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress. I think the prolonged nature of the pandemic and the feelings of uncertainty about the future are causing a lot of distress. If the feelings are severe enough that they are causing disruptions in your relationships or job, then finding someone to talk to is a good idea. If you are wanting to find some healthy ways of reducing the feelings of stress and anxiety, here are 5 self-care changes that can reduce feelings of anxiety quickly.
Reduce alcohol intake
A lot of people don’t know this, but alcohol use can actually cause anxiety. The immediate effects of alcohol calm the central nervous system. However, when alcohol leaves the body it can cause physical symptoms of anxiety, and make anxiety much worse for those that have clinical anxiety. Try a little experiment over the next 30 days: Significantly reduce or stop drinking alcohol and see if you notice a change in your anxiety level. Now, if you are physically addicted to alcohol, then you should not try this because stopping or reducing alcohol consumption could cause a trigger. If you think you might be addicted to alcohol, you should consult with your doctor first before you decide to stop or reduce your consumption.
Reduce caffeine intake
As someone with clinical anxiety, this is something I have had to do over the past year. My baseline level of anxiety has increased since the pandemic started, and I noticed that drinking my normal 2 cups of coffee each morning was making me feel more anxious. I now drink 1 cup pretty consistently, and I have found that I feel much better.
Get enough sleep
This is another one that most people don’t know about. Sleep has a huge effect on our ability to regulate our emotions. Getting enough sleep allows us to function at a much higher level, and allows us to regulate our emotions more effectively. If the anxiety is preventing you from getting enough sleep, then it might be helpful to try a meditation or progressive muscle relaxation before bed. If you have tried to change your habits to get more sleep but it is not working, then it might be time to talk to your doctor.
I know it’s hard to find time to exercise with work and family commitments, but exercise really is great for your mind and body. Exercise is a great way to release anxiety and stress, and it also triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that make us feel better. So even if it is just a walk around your neighborhood, any amount of exercise is better than none.
Reduce sugar intake
Sugar is another one of those things that a lot of us turn to when we are feeling anxious and stressed. Unfortunately, consuming a lot of sugar can actually trigger more feelings of anxiety, and can perpetuate an unhealthy cycle. If you notice that you crave sugar when your stressed or anxious, try doing something healthy instead, such as going for a walk, or calling a friend.
You won’t start seeing the effects of meditation immediately, but if you commit to practicing meditation daily, you will start to notice changes slowly. Science has proven that meditation works to reduce anxiety. You can download any number of meditation apps including Calm and Insight Timer. You can find all kinds of meditations through these apps. Pick a time that you can meditate each day. Start with 5 minutes, and increase by 5 minute intervals each week until you reach 40-45 minutes. If this is too much time at once, you can also break it up into 2, 20 minute sessions each day.
I hope these tips are helpful on how to reduce anxiety by making changes to your self-care routine. Stay safe and healthy and reach out anytime!