Anxiety is now Australia’s most common mental health condition, with a growing estimate of around two million sufferers. Anxiety has the power to sabotage your self-confidence, steal your sleep and increase your risk of burnout. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, then here are five quick tips to help you control your anxiety.
Understand the cause of anxiety
When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our heart rate rises, our breathing quickens and our adrenaline levels spike. Understand that this is a very natural response which is useful in life or death situations, but when it carries over into imagined threats (flunking a test, bombing a presentation etc.) the response is both unnecessary and uncomfortable.
Learn self-soothing techniques
When you’re anxious, a quick way to calm yourself is with diaphragmatic breathing. During this technique, you breathe in and out slowly and deeply, contacting the diaphragm (a chest muscle located above your stomach). You can couple this with positive self-talk, by repeating, calming positive phrases to yourself such as: “I am safe”, “This feeling will pass” and “I can do this”.
Change your diet
We all know that what we eat and drink has a large effect on our body, but it’s important to remember that it can also affect our mental health. Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are known to worsen anxiety. Caffeine can trigger panic attacks and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability. If you consume large amounts of caffeine or alcohol remember to wean yourself off gradually, as abruptly stopping can result in withdrawal symptoms.
Get more sleep
Sleep is essential to optimal mental health. Recent studies have shown that losing just a few hours of sleep a night significantly increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and fatigue. If you are struggling to sleep, try going to bed a couple of hours earlier and reducing your contact with screens (TV, phones and computers) in the hours leading up to bedtime.
If you are suffering from anxiety, book in to see a General Practitioner at Southport Metro Medical Centre today. Our Gold Coast medical professionals can help diagnose your mental health and refer you to additional services including psychologists, psychiatrists and other community supports.