How to Live With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
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Everyone deals with different levels of anxiety, but sometimes it leads to a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) diagnosis. When you have traditional symptoms for longer than six months, your doctor may recommend taking a second look at how you treat your mental health.
You can actively help your mental and emotional wellbeing by changing your lifestyle in simple ways. Use these tips to live with generalized anxiety disorder without the symptoms getting in the way of your daily activities.
Learn Your Triggers
The first thing you should do is learn what triggers your anxiety. After you can identify these causes, you’ll more easily recognize when your stress is getting worse so you can control the symptoms.
Sometimes the cause of your anxiety might be overarching. You could deal with long term financial stress or tragedy from unforeseen life events. Your fear may also be a result of immediate issues, like a frustrating change in your schedule or stress from an incident at work.
After you think about and identify your anxiety triggers, you can make a list and keep it where it’s most noticeable. When your anxiety is intense, and you’re overwhelmed, you can look to the list to see what led to your current mental and emotional state.
Confide in Someone
Many people find that their anxiety is much easier to handle if they confide in someone. Whether that’s your spouse, best friend or family member, that person is the start of your support group. As you build that community of support, you can go to them to talk through your anxieties so that you don’t carry the burden all by yourself.
Find Sources of Humor
It isn’t easy to think of something funny when you feel consumed with anxiety, but finding sources of humor in between anxiety attacks may make them less frequent and intense.
Increasing the production of serotonin, the hormone that stabilizes your mood shifts and makes you feel happy, is a significant way to treat anxiety disorders and attacks before, during and after new episodes. You may experience generalized anxiety disorder because your brain can’t regulate the production of normal serotonin levels, but you can give it a boost.
Find new TV shows, YouTube channels, books and even social media accounts to intersperse joy throughout your day. The more you laugh or focus on lighthearted content, the less anxiety you’ll experience.
Practice Mindful Breathing
Many people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder practice mindful breathing when they feel their stress levels rising. Breathing in deeply and slowly will help reduce your heart rate and ease your mind. Make this habit mindful by focusing on the present.
Think about your bodily sensations, the feel of your chair or how the breathing is helping you. Grounding yourself in the moment while you breathe slowly and mindfully will stop your thoughts from spiraling out of control.
Eat a Healthy Diet
What you choose to eat has a direct impact on your mental health, especially when it comes to your anxiety. Foods high in saturated fat and added sugar increase feelings of anxiety by spiking your blood sugar levels. It’s harder for your brain to regulate your mood if your blood sugar isn’t stable, even with the best anxiety-fighting habits.
Get Regular Sleep
Restless nights have a direct correlation to increased anxiety. When you don’t enter deep sleep at night, your medial prefrontal cortex deactivates, which is the part of your brain that regulates anxiety and stress throughout the day. Not getting enough sleep raises anxiety by 30%, so get the same amount of sleep every night by winding down early and turning the lights off.
Create an Exercise Routine
The next time you have a free afternoon, experiment with different exercises to find a few you enjoy. Exercising regularly alleviates symptoms of anxiety, whether you choose cardio activities or strength training routines. As you continue to work out every day or every few days, your body will produce serotonin, dopamine and endorphins that combat your symptoms naturally.
Keep an Open Mind
There are many ways to live with generalized anxiety disorder, so keep an open mind. If you try these tips and look for new ways to improve your mental health, you’ll always find resources to handle your anxiety and live your best life.