Have you ever wondered what anxiety feels like? How do you know when you are anxious? How can you help yourself be calm and confident?
You might notice that you are stressed out even when you are studying in the comfort of your home. Sometimes, you may feel alone or isolated despite talking to your classmates online.
If you have been feeling nervous, restless and unable to focus, do not ignore it. These could be signs of anxiety. Here are 10 ways to manage your anxiety and stay well:
1. Adopt Anxiety Coping Strategies
Your ability to pay attention, learn new information, and perform well at school can be reduced by chronic stress, anxiety, and the challenges they bring about. When you are feeling anxious, it is important to ground yourself with simple coping strategies.
These can include strategies like deep breathing, body scanning, and other mindfulness techniques.
A mindful body scan releases tensions that you usually disregard. If done properly, this will relax your mind from all the stress accumulated throughout the day.
Photo by Cliff Booth from Pexels
Follow these steps:
- Be in a comfortable position – Lying down is the best position as this is when your body is most relaxed.
- Take deep, and slow breaths – Inhale from your nose, and then exhale through your mouth. Do this slowly while imagining that your belly is a balloon that you need to inflate and deflate at a constant pace.
- Scan your body – Focus your attention starting from your feet going up towards your head. If you feel tension anywhere in a certain part, focus on that spot and imagine the tension slowly leaving your body as you exhale.
- Do it regularly – You can perform this every night before going to bed. It is important to clear your mind before you sleep.
Here is a 5-minute guided body scan that can help to relax your mind.
Mindful Body Scan (Short): Anxiety Skills #28
2. Maintain a Healthy Balanced Diet
Stay hydrated; eat well-balanced meals and do not skip meals. Stock your kitchen with energy-boosting snacks.
What you eat can affect how you feel.
Here is a quick list from Medical News Today on some foods that help ease anxiety:
- Brazil Nuts – reduces inflammation and has antioxidants
- Salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring – these fatty fishes are high in Omega 3 which promotes healthy brain function
- Eggs – a great source of Vitamin D
- Pumpkin Seeds and Bananas – for potassium to regulate electrolyte balance and manage blood pressure
- Dark Chocolate (70% dark) – loaded with nutrients and is a mood-enhancing food. Just grab the ones with minimal sugar and have them bite-sized at around 40g.
- Turmeric – contains curcumin which may help lower anxiety by reducing inflammation
- Chamomile Tea – a herbal remedy that has relaxing effect
- Yogurt – contains healthful bacteria for brain health
- Green Tea – contains theanine which has anti-anxiety and calming effects
These small changes to your daily habits can make significant differences in your mental health.
3. Lessen Your Sugar Intake
Having too much sugar can cause ups and downs to your mood.
While it may be difficult to suddenly cut sugar out of your diet, there are many ways to reduce your intake without feeling deprived:
- Limit processed fruit juice – Be careful because some ‘fruit’ juice contains lots of sugar.
- Cut back on sugary cereal – Slowly lessen your sugary cereal and mix it with other lower-sugar cereal.
- Consume fruits and veggies, even in small quantities – We are drawn into habits. Try to eat small quantities and later on increase your intake.
- Get involved in food preparation – Making your own food will help you discover what you are putting into your body. Cooking is also a great way to bond with your family.
- Avoid using sweets as a reward – Instead of buying your favorite ice cream or desserts as a reward, have healthy snacks as substitutes.
Meditation can help you set the tone for the rest of your day. Whenever you meditate, you prepare your mind and body for whatever is about to confront you.
Think of meditation as building a shield around you against all the negativity and challenges that will come your way.
The video below is one of the many meditations you can try. Find a solemn and quiet space in your house or use your earphones for this.
5. Practise Yoga
Doing yoga does not have to be time-consuming and complicated. In fact, you can start with a sequence of breathing techniques.
There are many yoga poses you can do. Below is one example that is ideal for those of you who sit for long hours.
This yoga pose, called the cobra pose, strengthens the spine, chest, shoulders, abdomen, and buttocks.
Photo courtesy of www.momjunction.com
Steps for the cobra pose:
- Lie face down with the tips of your feet flat on the floor and palms on either side of the body.
- Pull your shoulders slightly back towards the spine.
- Engage your abdomen throughout the exercise as it keeps your lower back protected.
- Lift your body into a cobra pose while keeping the chin up. Use your hands for support, but without putting unnecessary pressure.
- Hold the posture for 15 to 30 seconds, before gently releasing your body to the floor. This is a great way to start your morning.
6. Seek Help for Your Emotional Well-Being
Having support in your day-to-day life helps with anxiety management — reach out to those around you when you need it. This might mean contacting an organisation, enrolling in self-help programmes or even just confiding in a relative or a friend for the support needed.
If you are a student, reach out to your educational institution. Your school is likely to provide free or subsidised mental health services which you can benefit from. You can also look for free mental health support online for children and youth.
Related Article: Must we wait until suicide happens?
7. Declutter Your Space
Photo by Ken Tomita from Pexels
A clean surrounding will help keep your mind clear.
Take a look at your desk now. Is it a neat and organised space? Do you have a lot of unnecessary clutter taking up space?
If there are objects that you do not need daily, put them aside to give yourself more space. Declutter your belongings and store items away. Donate or discard your old items. You will feel much better after doing that.
Some of your old belongings might be related to your previous hobbies like music or art and craft.
If you feel like rekindling old hobbies or picking up new ones, you can look at some of these online classes.
8. Join a Support Group
Getting help from a team of professionals and being surrounded by others with similar experiences can help you to deal with anxiety a lot better.
Many places offer age- or occupation-specific support groups which are especially useful for you to meet peers who are coping with similar struggles and also want support. Support groups can be professionally provided, or just informal meet-ups organised by individuals themselves. You can look online to see if there are any support or meet-up groups in your area.
If you need help with your school work, join online forums to meet a community of like-minded learners to discuss specific subjects with other students at your level.
9. Set out a ‘Worry Time’
Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive! ‘Worry time’ refers to choosing a specific time of the day to expend energy on unpacking and analysing your worries.
Setting out a ‘worry time’ is useful as you will then convince yourself to avoid engaging with any overwhelming thoughts throughout the day. Instead, you will save your energy to worry at a specific time.
How to set out a ‘worry time’:
- Schedule your ‘worry time’ at the same time each day – Having a schedule prepares your brain so that you will only process your worries at that time. This practice helps you contain emotions first, so that you would not be distracted from tasks in your daily life.
- Stay in a quiet and relaxing room – Being in a calm environment while you unpack your worries is crucial as it helps you to clear your mind and feel empowered.
- Write down your worries – Putting your worries on a piece of paper makes you feel like the burden is being taken out of your head. Every time you are done with the things that make you worry, strike them out on the list to feel accomplished.
- Reward yourself – After crossing out your major worries, fix yourself a healthy and nourishing meal. Having small rewards signal to yourself that you have done a good job and prepares you for another round of challenges.
10. Write Your Thoughts in a Journal
Photo by Monstera from Pexels
Keep a record of your emotions, moods and feelings in a journal. It can be liberating to have an outlet for emotions to help you process them.
Do note that sharing your emotions on social media is different from this. Writing a journal is a private and solemn moment. Whatever you write down in a journal becomes more meaningful as this cannot be tarnished by comments from other people.
Many students find that maintaining a mood journal or anxiety record helps prevent the onset of severe symptoms and episodes. Moreover, this can be helpful when you wish to look it over and determine potential anxiety triggers, which can be helpful for your anxiety management in the long run.
Along the way, you will see how much you have improved when looking back at your journal. Be proud of yourself and feel confident that you have overcome many challenges to be where you are today.
The first step is always to empower yourself with information and seek help from the people around you.
Try some or all of these tips for dealing with anxiety. Comment below to share how these steps have helped you. Share this to help a friend today.
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