Anxiety is a common problem for Brits. It is also common for anxiety to co-occur with substance misuse and our rehabilitation programme aims to treat both. However, anxiety is a perfectly healthy emotion when you are faced with a legitimate danger. The brain’s anxiety mechanism sits in limbic system. This mechanism is scientifically known as ‘fight or flight’. A hormone known as adrenaline is responsible for this important emotion. Many describe anxiety as ‘a feeling of sudden doom’. Anxiety is simply fear we feel when faced with danger. But anxiety becomes a problem when it fires at times where it is irrational to do so.
Many suffering from drug or alcohol misuse often start taking substances as a ‘self-help’ remedy in order to treat anxiety. Substance misuse gives users a short-lived release from their anxiety. Users experience ‘rebound anxiety’ as soon as the effects of drugs or alcohol wear off.
Anxiety sufferers tend to self-medicate with a cocktail of drugs (both medicated and illegal) as well as alcohol and cigarettes. Overtime the anxiety sufferer builds up a tolerance to drugs and alcohol. Greater quantities are thus required in order to fend off anxiety.
When drugs and/or alcohol are withdrawn, addicts’ anxiety returns with a vengeance. Panic attack, restlessness and even a seizure may occur due to rebound anxiety. Thus, sufferers swiftly return to drug and alcohol use in order to reduce their anxiety.
In this post we outline tips for managing your anxiety without using drugs and alcohol.
Tip #1: Set aside ‘me’ time each day
Set aside time in your schedule to spend solely on yourself. This typically means engaging in activities that promote relaxation. This could include yoga, meditation or just taking a walk in the park.
Tip #2: Stop eating fatty and sugar foods
Ensure you eat healthily. Try to eat your ‘five a day’ and don’t binge on chocolate and sweets. Eating healthy foods provides the fuel your body needs to get through the day without feeling stressed and uptight. Try to eat lots of natural foods such as vegetables, rice, lean proteins and whole grains.
Consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is thought to reduce the occurrence of anxiety. Scientists believe stress depletes the body of magnesium and so anxiety will only make things worse. Taking a magnesium supplement will restore your body’s magnesium reserves to a healthy level again.
Tip #3: Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs to manage your anxiety
Drugs and alcohol may provide a temporary release from anxiety but ‘rebound’ anxiety will return as soon as the drugs or alcohol wear off. Overtime your body will build up a tolerance to drugs and alcohol and you will need to take greater quantities of them in order to manage your anxiety. Before you know it you will also be addicted to drugs and alcohol. You will now be faced with a painful withdrawal process by virtue of your addiction.
Tip 4: Stay off the caffeine
Caffeine is a drug in its own right. In fact caffeine is classed as a psychoactive drug in the same way as are heroin and cocaine. Caffeine raises your blood pressure and increases your heart beat. This in turn aggravates your anxiety. Stay away from tea and coffee and make sure you read food labels because caffeine is present in many different foods you are otherwise unaware of.
Suddenly stopping all caffeine intake may precipitate withdrawal symptoms, so consider tapering down slowly.
Instead of consuming caffeine, choose to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration makes you weak. When you’re weak you’re likely to get stressed. When you get stressed you’re likely to experience anxiety.
Tip #5: Get some daily exercise
The old adage ‘a health body is a healthy mind’ could not be more true than when it comes to defeating anxiety. In fact physical exercise is about the best natural anxiety remedy available today. So get out your house and go for a walk, even if it’s just a twenty minute walk around the block! Jogging should generally be preferred to walking.
Also consider joining a local sports and fitness club. Take part in classes taking place each week at a fixed time. This provides your life with structure and makes it harder to quit.
When exercised, the body releases a natural feel-good chemical known as endorphins. This reduces anxiety and even causes a euphoric feeling.
Tip #6: Learn your ‘triggers’ of anxiety
Make a note of external and internal stimuli that triggers your anxiety. Then try to avoid these triggers and situations where they arise. If you cannot avoid these situations consider strategies for coping with these situations. If your anxiety is unmanageable consider reaching out to an anxiety rehab centre. Here you will receive modern therapy such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These therapies arm you with coping strategies when faced with external anxiety triggers you simply cannot avoid.
Keep a journal so you can write down situations, feelings and peoples who trigger your anxiety.
Equally keep a ‘thought journal’. Anxiety outbreaks are equally caused by negative thinking as they are physical situations. Write down negative thoughts in your journal as and when they arise. Later you are now able to work on altering your thinking in ways not giving rise to anxiety.
Tip #7: Tell yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Anxiety sufferers often feel the world is about to end. But this is clearly an irrational belief. Tell yourself ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ You will quickly realise the world is not about to end. You will in essence begin to trivialise your anxiety. Experiencing anxiety is often the worst thing that can happen!
Asking this question makes you realise that your irrational fears do not represent reality.
Tip #8: Take deep breaths
If you are currently experiencing anxiety the best thing to do is sit down and take calm and deep breaths. This is known as ‘diaphragmatic’ breathing. Read up on ‘diaphragmatic breathing exercises’. This helps your heart beat return to a normal rate. This bio-feedbacks to your nervous system and also calms your mental state.
Tip #9: Know your anxiety will pass
All storms come to an end no matter how devastating. The same is true for anxiety. Life is full of mini-storms that act as anxiety triggers. It could be cleaning the bathroom, unfair deadlines at work or even money trouble. No matter how big your problem seems right now, the storm will pass. So when you suffer from anxiety at least remind yourself the feeling will pass. Accept your fear for what it is and know it will soon be over!
Tip #10: Don’t scrimp on sleep
One guaranteed way to increase anxiety is to economise on sleep. Try to get eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Some people may need even more. A lack of sleep means your body is not sufficiently recharged for the challenges you face during the next day. You’ll also lack concentration to complete important tasks. If you start to make mistakes you’ll likely run into anxiety sooner rather than later.
That’s all for now
We hope you enjoyed our post on how to reduce anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety then why not consider our anxiety rehabilitation services. Ocean Recovery Centre is located in Blackpool, Lancashire. As well as anxiety we also treat substance misuse and a range of other behavioural addictions.
Posted on Saturday, August 29th, 2015 at 10:29 am in Behavioural.