23 Lifestyle Tips for Reducing Anxiety
& Preventing Panic Attacks
Reducing anxiety levels and starting to feel 'normal' again can be next to impossible without attention to some simple lifestyle factors, all of which will assist in the task of learning how to relax again. It is of course really important to watch your thinking patterns too but if you can settle your body you are going a very long way to settling your mind and then reducing anxiety is almost automatic (remember a settled body = a settled mind, and vice versa).
The same applies just as much to preventing panic attacks, which are an extreme expression of anxiety that’s out of control.
Following these tips can quickly help you feel more settled and so find it easier to begin the process of starting to relax. They can make an enormous difference to your progress in recovering from an anxiety state.
Remember to keep practising the five steps process as well. In combination with the other strategies outlined on this website, you will maximise your chances for a speedy recovery and reduce your susceptibility to becoming anxious again. Many of these tips for panic attacks and anxiety come from the wonderful, ancient health philosophy of Ayurveda. There is no single better approach to curing and deeply understanding anxiety and panic.
1. Try to establish a regular daily routine.
- This is so simple yet it’s one of the most important tips for reducing anxiety and returning to balance. When your nervous system is agitated it may be difficult at first to focus enough to observe a daily routine, and the idea of it may even be unappealing to some but the nervous system is unsettled by uncertainty and irregularity and soothed by routine.
- When anxiety is high it can be very difficult to make even simple decisions. Having a basic structure to your day reduces the need to make decisions about what to do next and helps to anchor that restless, flighty nervous energy. Reduce uncertainty and the need to make decisions by adopting a regular programme for your day as far as possible.
- Take it a little at a time until you are eating, sleeping, getting out of bed, exercising and so on, at roughly the same times everyday. Get in the habit of writing a list every evening of the extra things you intend to do the next day outside of your routine. Keep the list short and realistic.
2. Get plenty of rest.
- The nervous system needs rest to recover and function at its best. Take time regularly through the day to stop and relax for a few minutes, especially in the afternoon when you will probably experience a drop in energy.
- Make it a practice to regularly scan the body and check to see where you are holding tension and imagine the muscles softening – become like a rag doll, loose and relaxed. Reducing body tension will help overtime in generally reducing anxiety levels.
- Allow plenty of time for sleep every night - even if you don't sleep well you will still get the benefits of resting in bed (as your nervous system settles, insomnia will decrease).
- Get to bed preferably between 9.30 and 10.00pm (or even a little earlier). Between 6pm and 10pm there is a natural tendency for everything to wind down and become more settled at this time. If you miss this wave of calming energy you may find you begin to wake up again and get a “second wind”. Work towards an earlier bedtime slowly over a number of days or even weeks.
3. Relish quiet, peace and stillness.
- Try not to fill up your life with constant activity, noise and distraction, all of which will naturally stimulate the nervous system. Take time out to enjoy the peace and beauty of nature. If you live in a city this may be taking a walk to a local park, tending some house plants, or even just gazing at the sky.
4. Learn to meditate.
- This is one of the most helpful things you can do in reducing anxiety levels and preventing panic attacks, but also hastening your recovery from an anxiety state, because it serves two functions – you become more mindful of your thoughts and how to let them go and you can also experience the deep rest of the meditative state which is very healing to the nervous system. You'll find a useful site for learning more about the benefits of meditation and a run down of various meditation techniques at awakenment-wellness.com
5. Be gentle with yourself.
- Treat yourself as you would a dear friend who is going through a difficult time. Allow that you have a physiological imbalance right now but that won’t always be the case. Don’t push yourself, take care of yourself, do the things that are good for you but don’t berate yourself if you slip up now and then.
6. Keep occupied.
- Try not to sit around dwelling on your symptoms but find some occupation. If it's something you have found pleasurable in the past all the better. It doesn't really matter what it is - the idea is to prevent your mind getting stuck in the endless groove of your anxiety.
- It could be spending some peaceful time with friends (avoid talking about your problems and noisy parties!), reading something inspirational, an old hobby, some non-stressful work - anything really.
- Whilst occupied you may start to experience some moments when you forget about your symptoms and this will help you understand the role you play in creating them and encourage you in your recovery.
- Take it easy, don't overdo it, don't spend all your time frantically trying to find things to do and remember to keep practising the five steps process regularly no matter what you're doing.
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