I was astonished the other day when I read that, according to the Office for National Statistics, 19% of people in the UK suffer from anxiety and depression.
We all worry don’t we? So how do you know if it’s a problem? It’s considered a problem when it is disproportionate to the risk or obstacle that causes it. Typical symptoms include headaches, trembling, sweating, an on-going feeling of exhaustion and even muscular pain.
Globally, women were found to be twice as likely as men to experience anxiety, and this may be linked to the fact that today women are constantly battling to define their role in a society that identifies assertiveness, power and anger as negative traits for a woman to have.
So if you’re suffering from excessive levels of anxiety try the RELEASE plan
Reduce your intake of caffeine. This is found not just in coffee, but in tea, cola, and even chocolate. If you get through a lot of these a day, try cutting back rather than cutting it out completely as you’ll find it easier. Replace one or two of your hot drinks with water – it’s really important to stay hydrated throughout the day as our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Years of research have found that when we’re thirsty, we have more difficulty keeping our attention focused, and it’s been found that dehydration can impair short-term memory function as well as the recall of long-term memory.
Exercising releases endorphins – the chemicals that our bodies naturally produce to feel good. The feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” And can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. In fact regular exercise has been shown to help
Ward off anxiety and feelings of depression
These days it’s easy for find classes available locally, whether run by the local council or an individual. If you’re not already exercising on a regular basis, get googling and pick a sport or two to try out. Or if even the word sport makes you break out in a sweat, find a local walking or rambling club – it’s a great way to get some gentle exercise, and make friends into the bargain.
Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieves physical tension and stress, and boosts the immune system. It can also decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. And it triggers the release of endorphins, just as exercise does. So, read a funny book, watch cartoons or comedies, or listen to your favourite comedian.
- You don’t have to become a vegan, or a vegetarian, or even go on a diet, just start to be aware of what you eat and how you feel. Generally, eating fresh, unprocessed foods will leave you feeling more energised than going for starchy, heavily processed foods. Cut back on the cake and the chocolate rather than trying to cut it out completely – that just leaves you feeling deprived and miserable. Remember, small changes over time lead to dramatically different results.
- Be prepared – plan your day the night before. Try making a schedule or a to-do list of the things you really want to get done – this will make you more productive, and if you also sort out what you’re going to wear, things you need to take with you, prepare your lunch etc the night before, you’ll save yourself time at the start of the day and feel more in control. Now you’ll have everything you need to hand and you’re day’s already off to a great.
- Make sure you get enough quality sleep. Inconsistent sleep can affect our physical health, and also contribute to overall anxiety and stress, often turning into a vicious cycle, since anxiety often leads to sleep disruptions. So aim to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep. Develop a regular bed-time routine where you relax for at least an hour before retiring, turning off the mobiles and laptops, and see what a few good nights of sleep do for your anxiety levels throughout the day.
- Studies have been done of the effects of expressing gratitude, and they found that it actually helps reduce anxiety, especially when we’re well-rested. If this is a new idea to you, start with just jotting down 3-5 things that you’re grateful for each day. This shifts your mind-set to one of appreciation, rather than that of feeling overwhelmed.
Perhaps some of the things you try won’t work as well as you hope first time around. You might need to try a few things, or combinations of things, before you discover what really helps you. But, as with all things in life, taking action is the key to change.
So choose to RELEASE your anxiety and find out for yourself how it can change your life.
Change your Thinking – Change your Life