23 Lifestyle tips for reducing anxiety and preventing panic attacks - page 3
13. Massage your body with warm sesame oil
- Do this every morning and, when anxiety is very high, also before bed if possible. This is very soothing and nourishing for the nervous system. A few drops of sesame oil massaged into the nostrils will soothe itchy, dry nasal passages and also increase resistance to colds.
- Olive or almond oil can also be used if sesame irritates the skin (though this is uncommon). Read more about how to get the best from this invaluable, centuries old Ayurvedic practice for reducing anxiety.
14. Avoid as far as possible loud noise or music, violent, horror or thriller movies
- For obvious reasons these will be very unsettling to a sensitised nervous system. Tension and fear experienced whilst watching movies are indistinguishable as far as your body is concerned from tension and fear experienced in real life, so this is clearly not going to help your condition.
15. Avoid long hours of television
- This will make you feel spaced out and ungrounded and aggravate any anxiety problems.
16. Keep warm.
- Avoid wind, cold and draughts all of which will make the body contract and tense up to maintain warmth. If you are focussed on reducing anxiety you want to encourage the body to relax as much as possible. Every time you tense up you are encouraging the physiology of anxiety to be perpetuated.
17. Try to avoid travel as much as practical between 2 and 6pm.
- As mentioned before, this is a time of day when energy can drop markedly so travel, which tends to be unsettling to the nervous system, will be even more so at this time. Obviously there will be times when it is impossible to avoid travel in the afternoon. Just be aware that this is one of a number of things that will be helpful.
18. Slow down.
- People with constitutions most prone to anxiety tend to do everything quickly. When we are feeling nervous or anxious we tend to get jumpy and speedy. That speediness will have a similar effect on your physiology as anxiety does, tensing the body, interfering with proper breathing and getting adrenalin, cortisol and all the other anxiety chemistry activated.
- It is helpful to make a conscious effort to slow down. Notice how the body feels next time you are rushing about. Notice where you are holding tension, notice what’s happening with your breathing.
- When you catch yourself tensing up and not breathing properly, stop for a moment, breathe out deeply and imagine the body becoming like a rag doll. Then slow down.
- Speediness may be a deeply ingrained habit and you might catch yourself a hundred times a day. But every time you do it’s a chance to let your body relax more and more and begin to return to a body chemistry that supports more serenity.
19. Avoid alcohol and all caffeinated drinks
- This is very important in reducing anxiety and panic attacks. Obviously both alcohol and caffeine will affect the nervous system adversely. Whilst alcohol may temporarily relieve anxiety in some individuals, the longer term effects are to increase it. Also, it is not uncommon for the change in consciousness that can be produced by either alcohol or a strong cup of coffee to trigger anxiety/panic attacks.
- Remember cola drinks and chocolate also contain caffeine.
- You may be amazed to know that for the anxious even one or two pieces of dark chocolate in the evening may be enough to disrupt sleep, so be warned! You want to get as much rest as possible when trying to reduce anxiety and the last thing you want is to have your nervous system stimulated more than it already is.
20. Eat an anxiety reducing diet
- There are some foods which have a more settling and soothing effect on the body and nervous system and some which are more stimulating. Whilst the benefits of a change in diet can take some time to manifest (possibly one to six months) the effects are long-lasting. It is very important not to become too rigid about diet but rather to use these as guidelines. (See Diet Tips for the Anxious)
21. Pay attention to how you eat
- When we are sufferig from anxiety we often have trouble digesting food. If it isn’t being assimilated properly and there’s a lot of gas, this isn’t helpful in settling the nervous system.
- Make sure you sit down, eat slowly and chew well, concentrate on your food and eat only food you find delicious and satisfying.
22. Around 4pm can be a low point
- you may need a break and a recharge of energy at this time so have a warm drink and a snack to help the body feel more settled.
23. It’s important not to be too fanatical about any of these suggestions to help you in reducing anxiety as this in itself will have the tendency to increase anxiety! Take it easy, be kind to yourself. (Remember to keep practising the five step process which will stop panic and anxiety attacks but is also very important in helping you feel less tense and anxious overall.)