Author: Amy Dailey MS, NBC-HWC
Are you looking to conquer the looming tower of anxiety? At Noom, we want to help arm you with some self-help strategies to overcome anxiety. Whether it is butterflies in the stomach before a big presentation or ruminating over daily worries at 2 am, anxiety can feel overwhelming and can be debilitating. Intrusive thoughts, sweating palms, muscle tension, irritability, and restlessness can accompany those feelings of anxiety. Additionally, it can express itself physically, emotionally, mentally, and behaviorally, which may be triggered by fear or prolonged stress.
Since fighting anxiety is going to look different for everyone, finding a strategy that works for you may take experimenting and, for some, may include seeking support from a professional.
Practice gratitude. Imagine a morning where you wake up being thankful. It may sound silly, but starting your day in a state of appreciation can help push out the thoughts of worry and keep the problem thoughts from intruding at the start of your day. Try it! The moment you notice you are awake, start verbalizing everything that you are grateful for. From the bed you slept in to the coffee in your cup, or just the fact that you did wake up.
Let go of the crystal ball. Fortune telling sounds like fun except when it’s memories and old thoughts that are predicting the future and not psychic abilities or a crystal ball. The brain only has past experiences to rely on for information for future situations. That doesn’t seem like a fair assessment. Judging what is going to happen tomorrow based on something that happened yesterday doesn’t give room for a new experience.
Zap the stress. Cut off stress before it even can manifest into anxiety. Managing and reducing chronic stress can benefit the body and mind. Stress management can be challenging, so here are six Noom tips for managing and reducing stress to help get you started.
Interrupt those thoughts. Take a walk, step backward, read affirmations, grab some extra push-ups, or do the dishes. Do anything different than what you are doing at that moment. Choosing to interrupt those anxious thoughts may help you regain a sense of control.
Ditch the sugar. It may be easy to see how the overconsumption of sugar could have adverse effects on the body; however, there is growing evidence that the consumption of added sugars is related to higher anxiety levels as well.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. You have heard the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But did you know that it can also help to keep anxiety at bay? There is supporting evidence to indicate that nutrition can play a part in the treatment of anxiety.
Poor quality diets that are high in fat and sugar may exacerbate mood disorders like anxiety. It seems that there is an anti-inflammatory response in people who have a higher intake of fruit and vegetables. So grab a few extra servings of your favorite roots, berries, and melons to fortify your fight against anxiety.
Get your groove on. Put on your favorite tunes or tie up those shoelaces and move that body. Regular physical activity like dancing, walking, hiking, or playing tag with your kids has been shown to reduce anxiety. There may even be a link between being sedentary and an increase in anxiety symptoms. Good news! It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out gym experience for you to see the benefits (unless you like that kind of thing). Practice movement in a way that makes you smile and get your boogie on!
Own your OM! Meditation. Practicing meditation has been shown to help with conquering those ruminative thoughts (same thoughts over and over) as it reduces brain activity in the area where those types of ideas reside. Disrupt the dwelling, so to speak!
All those external stimuli just trying to unnerve you may be thwarted by meditation as it allows room for emotional detachment from the overload, assists in coping with stress, and improves stress reactivity.
Moderate the caffeine. Some people can be more sensitive to caffeine than others, and caffeine-induced anxiety is a real thing. While it’s pretty common knowledge that caffeine may disrupt sleep if ingested near bedtime, did you know that it can also contribute to daytime sleepiness because your nighttime sleep is so off-kilter? However, caffeine used on occasion can enhance performance but may be more effective if it is used with that intent and not every day.
Viva la Vitamins. Vitamin supplementation can play a part in mental wellness. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with poorer mental health, including anxiety. With proper supplementation, it can improve mood status and decrease inflammation, which may aid in overcoming anxiety. Also, while Vitamin D may get some major kudos, Vitamin C helps to reduce the effects of oxidative stress through its antioxidant superpowers. There is growing evidence to suggest that anxiety can be associated with a Vitamin C deficiency, and proper supplementation could help reduce those feelings of anxiety.
Assessing vitamin levels should not be a guessing game, and it may be more beneficial to get your levels tested by a professional provider.
Eat Regularly. Take notice of how you feel throughout the day. While eating a considerable lunch may induce an afternoon nap, skipping meals all together may affect your blood sugar. Top that off with some daytime stress and you may experience uncontrolled blood sugar, which is associated with anxiety.
Journal. Think of a journal as a clearinghouse for emotions. The paper isn’t going to judge how you feel or give you unsolicited advice. It’s just an instrument to express yourself and clear your mind. It can help you to process daily experiences, create plans for future adventures, and can be used as a space to convey your gratitude. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Noom blog on how to start journaling.
Soothe your system through the breath. That’s right! The act of practicing purposeful breathing is like giving your sympathetic nervous system (the system that’s responsible for calm and rest) a loving hug. The key here is to make the exhale longer than the inhale. Think: Breathe in for 3, hold for 1, breathe out for 5. Since breathing exercises can be used to reduce stress, here are some extra breathing techniques to fit your fancy.
Turn off the noise. You can stay informed without staying tuned in 24/7. Create a purposeful time to gather the facts you need to stay informed on the latest news and consciously take steps throughout the day to tune out the rest. This may mean scheduling smaller blocks of time to engage in social media, reading the latest headlines, or soaking in the evening news.
Nourish your thoughts. Have you heard the phrase, “What you think about, you bring about?” Get intentional about what is fueling and feeding your brain. It can feel easier to nurture your thoughts than it is to monitor or filter them. Post affirmations, read positive blogs, engage in hopeful conversations, listen to beneficial podcasts, and fill your brain with colorful images.
Behavioral change may be the key to help you combat your symptoms of anxiety and regain control or your overall well-being. If you are looking for some additional anxiety-busting tools, Noom can help!