Anxiety is not something you “have” but instead is something you do.
There is a set of skills and habits that you must practice and develop. Changing your lifestyle in key ways can enable you to improve your anxiety over time.
Anybody can have mental or emotional health problems in their lives, and most of us probably will at some point. In fact, nearly 20 percent of Americans have a diagnosable mental health disorder. But even though this is common, most of us do little to maintain our mental health or to address problems when they arise.
You do not have to suffer or feel bad, though. There are plenty of things you can do, including lifestyle changes, that will elevate your mood and help you feel mentally stronger. It will take time and patience as well as dedication, just like it does to lose weight, become physically stronger, or improve your body’s health.
Below, we explore many lifestyle changes that can help to improve your anxiety and general mental health when you practice them regularly. While you may already be doing some, others may come as a surprise or be areas where you can improve. Adopting just one or two of these at a time, then working to make them healthy habits in your life, can boost your psychological health.
1. Exercise Regularly
Getting exercise for at least 20 minutes every day can boost your mental health and lower your anxiety levels.
Exercise releases “feel-good” hormones and neurotransmitters that can boost your mental outlook. Moving regularly improves blood flow to your brain, which can improve cognitive function. When you are fit and active, you improve your self-esteem, as well. Not only will it help for your anxiety, but those who exercise regularly have a reduced risk for depression, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic illnesses, to mention a few.
Any exercise that involves social interaction has additional benefits, as does working out outside (more on these below). Finding activities that you enjoy will increase the likelihood that you will stick with the habit. One of the best things you can do for your mind is to take care of your body, and exercise is a significant part of that habit.
2. Become More Mindful
Mindfulness is a state of being aware of yourself and your feelings and thoughts in the present moment.
You can learn to focus your mind and calm your body to pay attention to your current thoughts and emotions by learning mindfulness techniques.
When you are more mindful, you worry less about the things outside of your control and focus more on how you are currently doing and feeling. Mindfulness teaches you to understand how your mental state affects your body and your actions, as well. Learning to be more mindful improves your brain’s connections and processing, giving you lower levels of stress, improved memory and cognition, and better control over your emotional health.
3. Eat for Better Mental Health
What you eat has a considerable influence on your mental health.
A healthy diet full of the macro- and micro nutrients your body and brain needs can help your mind perform well and stabilize your mood and emotions.
Your brain, for example, needs healthy fats, magnesium, zinc, and folate to perform well. It also benefits from polyphenols, which can reduce inflammation and encourage healthy blood flow and neural processing.
Eating a diet primarily made from plants and plant-based foods and avoiding foods that are processed, high in sugar, fat, or salt can help keep your body and mind healthy while protecting your mental health.
4. Create a Strong Support System
We are social beings and having other people in our lives who we trust, and love is an essential part of maintaining good mental health. Relationships offer us comfort, give us a sense of purpose, provide support and advice, and give us companionship.
Those with robust mental health have friends, family, coworkers, and mentors they can turn to for assorted reasons and know that they can rely on others for support.
5. Reduce Your Stress
Stress is a contributing factor to mental illness and mental health decay. Finding ways to manage and cope with your stress is, therefore, critical for your mental health needs.
First, find ways to minimize or reduce sources of stress in your life whenever possible. This can mean changing jobs, getting rid of obligations that do not bring you happiness, or cutting out toxic people from your life.
Next, find ways to learn to cope better with your stress. Helpful strategies for stress management include exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, spending time outdoors, engaging in a hobby, spending time with friends, and laughing.
Doing something every day to help you manage your stress is vital for your overall mental well-being.
Would you like to Manage Your Stress and Conquer Anxiety the Easiest Way?
Check out our Stress Relieving Mantra Training Guide!
6. Share Your Feelings With Someone
Whether you are worried, stressed, happy, angry, or upset, or talking with someone about your feelings, these are effective strategies for reflecting on how you feel and for working out solutions to problems. Getting others’ perspectives on your situation is an added bonus.
When you have a strong bond with others, you develop a more positive attitude about life and yourself, too.
7. Quit Your Bad Habits
Giving up substances like alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drugs can have a significantly positive impact on your mental health.
Alcohol and other depressants can worsen mental health issues while also decreasing your overall physical health.
Drugs, alcohol, and smoking are often used as coping strategies to help manage emotions and influence mood, but they are not highly effective and only lead to worsening troubles.
Give up these unhealthy habits to boost your mental health.
Alcohol rehab is generally considered the most effective way to break the cycle of addiction to alcohol and open the door to wholeness and happiness.
At its core, alcohol rehab is a treatment program dedicated to the process of helping individuals overcome their physical and psychological addictions to alcohol. At Abbeycare Foundation they offer a holistic alcohol rehab experience designed to meet the individual needs of each patient on a personal level. ~ Cristina Par
8. Get Plenty Of Quality Sleep
Treating insomnia and other sleeping disorders is crucial for relieving anxiety.
Sleep is a time when your body and brain recover from your day, when your brain strengthens neural pathways, and when you rest and rejuvenate your cells and tissues.
Without proper sleep, you will have less control over your emotional well-being, your brain will have a harder time thinking logically and rationally, and you will struggle more to cope with stress. Sleep is vital for everyone, especially those with a mental illness, such as anxiety.
9. Keep a Journal
Writing in a journal on a regular basis can help you maintain positive mental well-being. Expressive writing whether you share your thoughts and feelings is a healthy mechanism for coping with stress and relieving your anxious thoughts.
It is also a great strategy for working through difficult emotions, for making tough decisions, and for reflecting on areas for improvement in your life. Keeping a journal and writing in it at least three times per week is a simple yet effective strategy for maintaining your overall mental health.
10. Spend Time Outside
Spending time outdoors and in nature benefits your anxiety in several ways.
The first is that it exposes you to the sunshine, which boosts your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D plays a significant role in your mental wellness while also helping you to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Sunshine also helps you control your serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that boosts your mood and enables you to manage your emotions.
Being exposed to nature also helps to reduce your stress while also improving your self-esteem at the same time. Being outdoors helps you feel more connected to the world and others and gives you a peaceful respite from the noise and stress of daily life, both of which influence your mental health.
Another aspect of the natural world is animals, and plenty of research supports the idea that having a pet or being around animals improves your emotional and mental health. When you take care of another living creature, your sense of purpose is stronger. Having a pet reduces stress while also providing you with companionship.
11. Give Yourself A Break
Knowing when to rest, get away, and decompress is an essential habit for mental well-being. It is important to take breaks throughout your day to give your mind time to reflect and rest.
It is also crucial that you get away from daily life and pressure regularly, such as with mini-vacations or more extended getaways.
Regular breaks are essential for keeping stress levels in check and give you time to reflect and learn from your experiences, as well.
12. Get Help When Needed
Making positive changes to your life can help you to relieve minor mental health issues, but if you have a mental illness or your psychological problems are interfering with your ability to live your life, then seeking professional help is the smart and healthy thing to do.
If you are under a professional’s care, it is vital that you follow their recommendations, take any medications prescribed to you, and alert your counselor or therapist with new or worsening symptoms arise.
You can also talk with friends and loved ones about your anxiety, as they are a source of help and support. But if you are in crisis or feel like you need more help than your support system can provide, be sure to find the help you need from a trained mental health professional.
Today’s constantly connected world contributes to our stress and feelings of being overwhelmed or out of control. It is vital to give your mind a rest from social media, images, and other sources of information from time to time.
Turning off the TV, cell phone, tablet, laptop and the computer allows you to spend time with yourself and your loved ones, appreciate your life and the world, and consider your current happiness and health.
Take a hiatus from the connected world from time to time to recharge your batteries and get a new perspective.
14. Think Positively
How we think has a powerful influence on our decisions and actions as well as our emotions.
Thinking positively helps you feel better about yourself, which in turn helps you make better decisions and develop healthier habits. When you feel negative thoughts creeping in, make an effort to change those to more positive ideas.
Silence critical self-talk that damages your self-esteem.
Embrace the positive in all situations in your life.
Look for things that make you happy and enjoy them.
While you do not have to always be happy to be healthy, learning to lean more toward positivity and less toward pessimism goes a long way to improving your outlook and boosting your mental health.
15. Practice Gratitude
As with positive thoughts, you should also regularly focus on those things in your life for which you are most grateful.
Gratitude is linked with mental health and improved well-being.
Develop a habit of periodically contemplating your gratitude and recording those things in your life for which you are more grateful. Keep a gratitude journal, tell people in your life how much you appreciate them, and focus on your gifts and blessings instead of your burdens to increase your mental health and relieve your anxiety.
16. Find a Purpose
When you have meaning and purpose in your life, you are much more likely to have strong mental health. When you feel needed or good about yourself, you will be driven to succeed and achieve your goals.
Purpose helps you stay motivated, and it gives you new ideas for attaining even larger dreams. Having a purpose generates new brains cells and also creates new neural pathways, which improves your brain health over time. When you feel purposeful, you experience less pain, have better emotional regulation, and have lower levels of stress.
Find work that is engaging and provides you with meaning for others and yourself. Figure out your values and goals and pursue those with zeal. Engage in hobbies and pastimes that help you feel productive and bring you happiness.
17. Give to Others
When you volunteer or donate to those in need, you help them while also improving your own mental health.
Volunteering enables you to connect with others. It also helps you develop empathy, learn about other people, and see how you can make a difference in your community. Charitable giving is shown to boost emotional health and improve psychological well-being, so find ways to help others in your area.
18. Take Care of Loved Ones
Caring for others, including children, parents, those who are ill, and the disabled is a rewarding, meaningful, and challenging experience. All of these are good for your mental health, though. When you take care of other people, you feel purposeful and productive, which influences your well-being.
19. Find a Hobby
When you do things that are challenging as well as enjoyable, you improve your psychological health.
Hobbies are great for reducing stress, teaching you skills or information, and helping you to meet new people. Hobbies that are outdoors, engage your body as well as your mind, or give you reasons to interact socially have double benefits for your mental health, too.
20. Work on Your Resilience
Strong mental health means being able to get through change, loss, or disappointments without significant emotional upheaval. Building your resilience can help you to improve your psychological well-being.
Work on challenging yourself to try new things. Find ways to learn from setbacks and failure. Practice ways to cope with failure or disappointment to help you develop problem-solving skills and increase your resilience.
21. Accept Yourself
Learning to accept yourself is part of your mental health and crucial for improving anxiety.
We are all different, and when you learn to appreciate yourself for those differences, instead of constantly comparing yourself to others, you can thrive and enjoy stronger mental health.
Healthy self-esteem requires you to be proud of yourself and how you are, including what makes you unique from others. Knowing your own strengths and limitations is part of that, including understanding what you can and cannot change about yourself. When you start to accept yourself for what and who you are, you will enjoy much stronger mental health.