Lifestyle and home remedies
While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes also can make a difference. Here's what you can do:
- Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It may improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you can't quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
- Quit smoking and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. Both nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
- Use stress management and relaxation techniques. Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
- Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you're getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren't sleeping well, see your doctor.
- Eat healthy. Healthy eating — such as focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish — may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.
Coping and support
To cope with an anxiety disorder, here's what you can do:
- Learn about your disorder. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider. Find out what might be causing your specific condition and what treatments might be best for you. Involve your family and friends and ask for their support.
- Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist may give you. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.
- Take action. Learn what triggers your anxiety or causes you stress. Practice the strategies you developed with your mental health provider so you're ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations.
- Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what's causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
- Join an anxiety support group. Remember that you aren't alone. Support groups offer compassion, understanding and shared experiences. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America provide information on finding support.
- Learn time management techniques. You can reduce anxiety by learning how to carefully manage your time and energy.
- Socialize. Don't let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities.
- Break the cycle. When you feel anxious, take a brisk walk or delve into a hobby to refocus your mind away from your worries.
There's no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you're anxious:
- Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Stay active. Participate in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy social interaction and caring relationships, which can lessen your worries.
- Avoid alcohol or drug use. Alcohol and drug use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you're addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can't quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.