{flickr photo by: Sean Kelly}

Anxiety is not my favorite disorder. It’s probably one of my least favorite. Why? Unlike depression it can make normal activities like going to the grocery story or riding a plane feel like a real life nightmare.

Thankfully, there are a multitude of ways to address the symptoms of anxiety. And this can help those who suffer from it feel more in control and empowered, which are key factors in helping individuals reduce symptoms in the first place.

Here are ten ways that could help you soothe symptoms of anxiety in your life:

1. Incorporate meditation, yoga, listening to music, visualization or any other activity that can help you reduce stress in your life.

According to The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (a phenomenal resource by the way) by Edmund J. Bourne, Ph.D.  “the most effective long-term treatment for brain dysfunctions associated with panic disorder is a consistent and comprehensive program for reducing stress in your life.”

2. Get regular exercise.

There’s no better way to release those surges of adrenaline from the fight-or-flight response that comes with anxiety, phobias and panic attacks than exercising. In addition to helping with symptoms of anxiety, it can also alleviate insomnia and increase a sense of well-being. It’s good for your body and mind.

3. Limit your caffeine, sugar, salt, nicotine and other stimulants from your diet.

Sugar, in particular, can lead to hypoglycemia, which has symptoms similar to a panic attack (light-headedness, anxiety, irritability, palpitations, etc.). Caffeine can trigger anxiety and panic attacks and too much salt can put unnecessary stress on your already overworked anxious heart.

4. Be assertive.

Your fear of saying what you need can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Work with a coach or a therapist on ways to be more assertive in your life and it will increase your self-confidence, self-esteem and reduce your anxiety.

5. Learn to be more emotionally expressive.

Sometimes a phobia can develop because there are repressed emotions that need to be expressed. Working with a therapist or writing your feelings in a journal can help alleviate some of these emotions and deal better with them.

6. Find strength in numbers.

Talking with people who love and accept you can help you overcome your fears. You may find this in a support group or with a group of friends. It’s important to lean on others when you’re feeling vulnerable. Being in the company of those who truly care about you can do wonders for your self-esteem and your ability to tackle your anxiety.

7. Search for your life purpose.

When your life has meaning, you’re less apt to have a panic attack. This is because for some, an underlying fear of never fulfilling their purpose can trigger symptoms of anxiety. Take time to explore where you are in your life and what you would still like to accomplish. Set goals for yourself and work on taking the baby steps to achieve them.

8. Cultivate a spiritual life.

As someone who admits to being a nervous flier, I have to say that focusing on spirituality in the midst of my anxiety has been the one thing that’s helped calm my nerves. Most anxious people have difficulty relinquishing control. I think spirituality helps us to realize that there is something bigger out there that will love, protect and guide you so you don’t have to try to control everything in your life.

9. Consider medication.

When panic attacks, phobias and anxiety are impeding daily function in  your life, it’s time to consider medication. A professional therapist can help you decide what’s the best form of treatment for you.

10. Develop a plan for a more relaxed approach to life.

This could me changing your self-talk from negative (using never, should and always) and self-defeating to more positive and empowering. It could also mean reducing your hours at work, taking more breaks, and spending less time in the busyness in life and more time just being.

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