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At one time or another, each of us feels overwhelmed by stress and despair. For some, this may be a chronic condition that manifests itself on a regular basis. For others, it is circumstantial, and it passes when the cause of anxiety is eliminated. Regardless of how intense or how often your feelings occur, there can be side effects to your physical health as a result.
Take Care of Your Basic Needs
At times when things feel out-of-control, it helps to refocus on what you can control. Take a moment to make sure that you are taking care of your most basic necessities: food and sleep. Do not skip meals, even when you don’t have an appetite. Try to eat a well-balanced meal so you are nourishing your body, which in turn will help stabilize your mind. High and low blood sugar can not only make you feel worse, but can trigger anxiety as well.
You will need to get more rest than normal. The physical symptoms of anxiety can use up a lot of energy, which will need to be replenished in order for you to begin to feel better. While insomnia may be a side effect of stress, there are things you can do to help. Avoiding caffeine, even early in the day, will help you wind down sooner. Be sure to give yourself a dark and distraction-free room to fall asleep. You should turn off all of the lights, the television, and even your phone. Make yourself as comfortable as possible with a soft blanket and pillow, and be sure the room temperature is not too hot or too cold.
Use Relaxation Techniques
One tried-and-true technique to relieve anxiety is to gain control of your breathing. Take one deep breath and hold it for as long as you can, then slowly release it. Then, begin to take controlled breaths by engaging your diaphragm. You can do this by placing one hand on your chest and one just below your ribcage. Breath so that only your lower hand moves. Once your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are balanced, you will begin to feel more normal.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another technique to help minimize the effects of stress. It starts with a deep breathing exercise. You then systematically tense and relax individual muscles from your feet upward.
A regular exercise routine helps give your mind and body something to focus on. Yoga is an excellent way to keep your body and mind healthy. There are poses you can do that are especially calming, and don’t require any special clothing or equipment.
Spend Time with Animals
Studies have shown that having a pet can reduce tension. With a cat or dog around, you will be less likely to be plagued by loneliness. Our relationships with our pets don’t have the same stress factors as relationships with other people might. Your dog will not judge you when you are feeling down. Petting a purring cat can be therapy in itself. For chronic conditions, you can even look into getting service dog that is specially trained to help when you are feeling your worst. Rover has an excellent article on how service dogs can help with anxiety and depression that I recommend checking out.
There are times when you will need to seek additional outside help from a doctor or therapist. If your condition is causing you adverse physical side effects, affecting your work or relationships, causing you to use drugs or alcohol, or simply to miss out on life all together, then it is important not to let yourself continue to suffer. Talk to your physician about treatment options.
About the Author:
With SpiritFinder, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.