Linda Lewis Griffith

10 tips for reducing anxiety

Looking to curb anxiety and limit stress? Try limiting caffeine, eating well-balanced meals and getting enough sleep.
Looking to curb anxiety and limit stress? Try limiting caffeine, eating well-balanced meals and getting enough sleep. The Kansas City Star

Feeling anxious? You’re not alone.

An estimated 40 million Americans have an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some may require medication and psychotherapy to alleviate their symptoms. But others can find relief with relatively simple changes to their lifestyles.

Below are 10 tips, adapted from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, to help curb anxiety and minimize stress:

Accept what you cannot change. Some parts of life are beyond our control. Others are completely up to us. Practice delineating between the two. Then put your efforts where they’ll do the most good.

Let go of perfection. Perfectionism sets an unreachable standard that leads to feelings of failure and increased stress. Recognize when you’re setting impossible standards for yourself and replace them with goals that are within reach.

Maintain a positive attitude. Pay attention to what’s working in your life. Minimize those areas you find less fulfilling. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you focus on the joy.

Learn what triggers your anxiety. Keep a daily journal. Identify those parts of your life that are most stressful, like work, family or school. Notice if there are changes you can make that will decrease their negative impact on you.

Limit caffeine. Caffeinated beverages are well-known stimulants and can even mimic panic-like symptoms. Veer away from that morning cup of coffee and avoid that Red Bull energy drink in the afternoon. Drink more water instead.

Eat well-balanced meals. Make sure they include ample servings of stress-reducing foods, such as fatty fish, eggs and probiotic-rich fermented foods such as yogurt and kombucha. Chamomile tea also provides a calming effect.

Get enough sleep. Insomnia and anxiety are so closely intertwined, it’s often difficult to determine which problem arose first. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests making a good night’s rest a top priority. Establish a regular bedtime routine. Avoid stressful activities such as billpaying before going to bed. Allow ample time to wind down from the day’s activities.

Exercise daily. Studies have shown that regular exercise may work as well as medication for some people in reducing anxiety and depression. The effects of one vigorous workout can last for hours, and a regular exercise regimen may significantly reduce symptoms over time.

Learn to meditate. Meditation helps you momentarily detach from thoughts and feelings. It’s also a great tool for quieting an overactive mind. Consider using a meditation app on your cell phone or taking a class with a trained meditation instructor.

Limit exposure to social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great ways to keep connected, but they can also increase levels of anxiety, addictive and agitation. Avoid checking your phone after 7 p.m. Leave it at home or in your car when going to the gym or to an appointment. If all else fails, consider deleting your social media accounts.