Modern life is fast, pressures fly at a cracking pace and coping sometimes becomes a challenge. Here are some tips on how to manage anxiety in the modern world.
For actress Emma Stone, anxiety reared its head during childhood. “It was really bad,” she admitted recently in a Wall Street Journal interview. “I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”
Therapy - and theatre acting - continues to prove her salve. But she is not alone in her ongoing battle, with Roy Morgan research showing that young women have suffered a sharp decline in psychological wellbeing, with a rise in anxiety, depression, panic attacks and stress.
Tara O, Speaker and Author of Wildly Irresistible – which explores anxiety and low self-esteem in women - can relate. “Everyone around me seemed to be coping with life so why couldn't I?” she recalls of her time battling panic attacks so extreme, she was fearful of going into her own apartment, and even sleeping.
“I would isolate myself a lot," Tara continues. "I was scared people would think I was ‘crazy’. I had a lot of anxiety around food and gaining weight, which triggered my bulimia and stopped me wanting to go out with friends.” It got so bad, that family intervened and - with expert guidance - t Tara was on the road to recovery - and a career helping other women empower themselves.
Are you anxious?
Symptoms vary but can include a racing heart, shaking, negative thinking and feelings of panic. You may also feel inclined to avoid socializing on even the most basic level, and conflict and confrontation can prove an enormous fear. Leanne McLean, Blackmores Naturopath adds that excessive worry and obsessive thinking are also red flags.
Ease your anxiety
“Exercise is invaluable in the treatment and management of anxiety,” explains Leanne. “Exercise may increase endorphins which are chemicals produced in the brain that have an effect on lifting the mood,” she adds, pointing to simple, low impact exercise – such as yoga or tai chi - as perfectly effective. “Exercise is a good replacement for substances, such as alcohol, in the management of daily stress.
2. Healthy diet
A healthy diet can be useful for managing anxiety also. During stressful times, the body requires extra nutrients including B-complex group of vitamins and vitamin C. “Nutritional supplements that also contain added magnesium - which helps all the muscles in the body to function optimally - may also be used to support the adequate intake of nutrients,” Leanne adds.
Lisa Phillips author of The Confidence Coach Book - and one of Australia’s most inspiring confidence and empowerment experts - highlights that anxiety can manifest in ways unique to ourselves and our lifestyles. “It is about overall wellbeing,” Lisa assures. “If you value yourself and believe in yourself, you are less likely to suffer frequent bouts of anxiety." Lisa suggests imagining a rock inside of you "keeping you steady and resilient.” However, if you are run down, exhausted or living from day to day in emergency mode, you are more likely to feel anxious, "akin to having a feather inside of you, blowing around all over the place!"
"Find out what triggers your anxiety and be mindful of those triggers," suggests Tara. "For example, if having too much on your ‘to do’ list makes you feel overwhelmed, cut it right back. Divide your day into small, bite size chunks that feel manageable to you."
Sleep is also essential – so herbs such as passionflower, lemon balm and hops can support healthy resting patterns in the body, as can the avoidance of alcohol, caffeine, excessive sugar, nicotine, marijuana and recreational drugs. “All of which may make your anxiety worse,” cautions Leanne.
6. Be kind to yourself
"Stop beating yourself up!" encourages Lisa. "Instead, encourage yourself with soothing and kind words and give yourself permission not to be perfect. You are human!"
7. Big deep breaths
"The fastest way to change how you feel is by changing the way you breathe," Tara highlights. "Every morning I do a few calming breathing practices and often I return to them during the day." Even while sitting at your work desk, a few long, deep inhales and exhales will help calm your nervous system instantly, she adds. "Breathe in through your nose for the count of three and then exhale through your nose for the count of three. Repeat five times."
8. Seek support
Above all else, “never feel ashamed to explain how you feel,” advises Tara. “Seek out a great support system, whether a trusted friend, doctor, councilor, partner, “ she urges. “Remember you don’t have to be in this alone.”