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15th November 2016

Ways to relieve anxiety

Taking care of your own mental health is important — here are some ways to manage anxiety whilst waiting for professional help

Way too many of us suffer anxiety disorders at this age. It is a prime time for mental health issues to sprout, since we are all of a sudden exposed to more than we have ever known. This means plenty more chances for real reasons to worry, and a mindset prone to worry about things we really do not need to.

Unfortunately, the waiting lines are long and resources are limited. It is hugely important to seek and accept help, because your mind can be trained to health like any other muscle in your body. But, you are not going to lift 100kg in your first session (you get the point). It takes time and sometimes it does not seem to progress fast enough. So, from my experience, there are a few little tweaks you can incorporate into your lifestyle to make things a little easier in the meantime.

1. Reading helpful books

There are endless books out there to assist you in understanding your situation. With knowledge comes power (great saying) and when it comes to understanding your brain, if you are anything like me, all knowledge is new knowledge and can extract the fear you have of the unknown. Knowing someone out there has an explanation of how and why you are feeling like you do makes it all seem less daunting. ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Professor Steve Peters is a great place to start, as is ‘Mindfulness’ by Williams and Penman.

2. Meditation

Meditating helps you focus on the immediate sensations affecting your body right now and slowly control your mind over the little things. In time, this can then help to gain control in the more imaginative areas that cause stress and worry. Apps such as ‘Headspace’ and ‘Stop, Think & Breathe’ help guide you through mediations based on the mood you are in and log your activity. They can also be useful in reminding you to keep it up.

3. Cut out/down on the stimulating factors

Often with anxieties, the mental worry sets off a physical reaction. Things like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar all tend to heighten your physical reaction, so where they can be avoided or lessened, do. It is easy enough to drink decaf teas and coffees and cut down on sweets, but considering general life at university, alcohol is harder to cut out. Drinking less, more regularly, rather than binging will help reduce the associated anxiety.

Although these changes may help lessen the affects, anxiety disorders are mental dysfunctions that need professional attention. Be prepared for a long process, but one that will be worth it.

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