How To Treat Anxiety10 Tips that enable you to take control and treat anxiety
This How To Treat Anxiety resource looks at the best ways that you can take control of your own health and wellbeing.
It includes simple lifestyle enhancements and changes to help treat anxiety naturally and work with your current medications and health professionals.
To measure your anxiety levels we recommend using the free anxiety test.
This will help you understand the severity of your anxiety and hopefully encourage you to seek additional help in conjunction with the following anxiety treatment tips.
How to treat anxiety summary
Learn how to get quality sleep and manage sleep hygiene
Reduce coffee intake and switch to mornings only
Reduce inflammation with diet and optimise your gut health
You have to move and stretch everyday
Work with a mental health professional to understand how to treat anxiety
Work with your GP to uncover any underlying cause of your anxiety
Consider trauma or adverse childhood events
Remove other stimulants
Learn to self-regulate
Keep the connection
1. Learn how to get quality sleep and manage sleep hygiene
Sleep is vital to just about every aspect of your health and wellbeing and plays a major role in treating anxiety. Use a routine such as this one and stick to it as best as you can.
- Try to eat dinner and any last snacks for the day at last light/before the sun goes down. This will force your body clocks to reset and reduce the amount of work your body needs to do to digest food before bed.
- Reduce or eliminate screen exposure (phones, computers TV) for at least an hour before bed. Two hours is better. Looking at screens will increase the amount of blue wave light your body absorbs, essentially telling your brain and body clocks that it is still day time.
- Opt for a hot shower before you go to bed. This will force your body to reduce its core temperature which is required for quality sleep
- Try to maintain a constant room temperature. This is also a requirement for solid sleep throughout the sleep stage.
- Go to bed and wake up the same time each day. Essential for setting body clocks and hormone production.
- Remove LED lighting from your bedroom. LED's give off a blue wave light spectrum and much like a screen will force your body to stay awake.
- Don't drink alcohol too late or before bed (nightcap). Alcohol, while being a sedative, causes micro awakenings throughout the night. You may not even notice or remember them but they will interrupt your sleep stages (stop the processes in your brain) causing you to feel ordinary the next day.
2. Reduce coffee intake and switch to mornings only
Coffee and anxiety don't mix well. That's because coffee is a stimulant that fires up your sympathetic nervous system.
If you are struggling with anxiety than the coffee can have a very negative impact.
- Gradually reduce your coffee intake. Slowly wind your intake back and if you are a big coffee drinker than aim for just one cup a day.
- If you have to have a cup than make sure you have it before lunch time and no later. This will affect your sleep cycles and undo any good work you have done in your sleep routine.
- While you are at it, take out any sugar. We don't really need to go into the damage sugar does but cut it back with the aim of removing it completely from your coffee or tea.
- Switch out to a strong herbal tea. Habits die hard so if you struggling with reducing coffee in the afternoon then use a strong herbal tea (non-caffeinated) to maintain the habit, then reduce it.
3. Reduce inflammation with diet and optimise your gut health
Inflammation is present in almost every disease state and anxiety is no different. So often we fuel our bodies with foods that only increase inflammation so aim for a reduction in high starch carbs (bad bacteria feed off these), no sugar, low grains, reduced dairy and get rid of all processed foods.
- Cut out sugar. This can be very difficult for some as sugar is incredibly addictive, but you have to try. Getting rid of it will change your life. Challenge yourself for 30 days to reduce or cut it out completely and you will notice the difference.
- Cut out processed foods. If you can't pick it off a tree or harvest it from the ground or farm then it doesn't belong in your diet. Preservatives are required to keep processed food on the the shelf and these will feed your inflammation and negatively impact your anxiety.
- Reduce grains. Due to the processing of grains and their innate ability to cause some people gut and inflammatory issues try to reduce them whenever possible.
- Dairy can have a similar effect as bread but can be a good source of protein. Try reducing it for 30 days to see if it has a positive effect for you. Alternatives are goats and cashew cheese.
There are many other things you can do to optimise your gut health. Many of our clients experience high levels of bacterial overgrowth and so little of the good bacteria to fight off the bad guys.
Therefore, we recommend beginning with thorough testing to find out what your gut microbiome looks like then tailoring a treatment plan to suit your needs.
4. You have to move and stretch everyday
Anxiety can often keep us from leaving the house or even our beds. It can be completely debilitating but stretching, breathing and moving has a huge impact on your entire body and brain and is essential for any mental health condition, including anxiety.
- Just walk. Even a little bit will help. Walk wherever you can, around the house, up and down the stairs, through the garden or around the block. Start slow and increase the distance one week at a time.
- Stretch and breathe. Breathing properly is very beneficial to all aspects of health. We recommend pilates, yoga, mindfulness or seeing an osteopath to assist with stretching that works for you. Learn to breathe to control your anxiety.
- When you walk or stretch do it in the morning sun. Vitamin D absorption is essential for many of the body's systems but specifically sleep. To enhance your sleep cycles make sure you move in the morning sun and see it go down in the afternoon.
To get started and do it right we recommend talking to an osteopath or exercise physiologist that can tailor a stretch and movement plan to your needs.
5. Work with a mental health professional to understand how to treat anxiety
Getting to the root cause of your anxiety is essential in treating it into remission. Whether it's mental, biochemical, physical, environmental/epigenetics or a combination of them all, there will be a source that needs to be treated effectively. Practitioners with the right skill sets and training can assist you in discovering the root cause and providing a treatment path.
- Get the right treatment tools that work for you, medication is not always the answer.
- Adapt behaviours and routines.
- Understand what triggers your anxiety
- Learn how to actively apply the right tools and do the work
- Consult a gut health specialist that works with mental health
6. Work with your GP to uncover any underlying cause of your anxiety
Hormones, inflammation, parasites, blood pressure, vitamin and mineral deficiencies all play a crucial role in mental health so get a check up and ask your doctor for a full blood test to look for any underlying cause to your anxiety.
7. Consider trauma or adverse childhood events
Anxiety can sometime be caused by an adverse event as a child or a past trauma that you have adapted to and buried just to get by. There is no shame in this and understanding that this could be contributing to your anxiety is important in treating anxiety it into remission.
You can talk to your mental health professional about this and or use the free ACE Test to measure any adverse events in your childhood.
PTSD and anxiety often present together so if you feel there is something that you need help with please don't hesitate to reach out.
8. Remove other stimulants
All stimulants have a negative impact on anxiety and only makes anxiety attacks more prevalent. Much like coffee, stimulants spike your flight or fight system making you incredibly edgy and could have serious risks attached.
- energy drinks
- caffeinated drinks
- be wary of some medications before taking them, if you are not sure please talk to your doctor.
9. Learn to self-regulate
There are so many great apps for mindfulness and breathing but there is another that takes self-regulation to another level.
Tapping has become one the most useful tools that anyone can use to self-soothe and regulate.
To get the most out of tapping we recommend you work with a practitioner that is highly trained in this area but you can begin the basics which are incredibly effective. See the tapping solution for more information.
10. Keep the connection
As hard as it can be we need to keep others close and not shut ourselves off from everyone else. Isolation, while it seems necessary at the time, only feeds your anxiety, self doubt and lack of self worth.
- connect with positive caring friends and family or a trusted practitioner
- be thankful for the people in your life and let them know
- help and support others whenever you can in whatever capacity you can