Thrive In Five: Managing Anxiety

managing anxiety woman laying on the floor with hands over her eyes.

This week’s Thrive In Five is about managing anxiety.

Anxiety is something that throughout my life, has come in and out a little bit. I wouldn’t say I have a lot of anxiety, but it is very prevalent at the moment and anxiety is on the increase. I think anxiety will be something that we’re going to have a much bigger problem with post pandemic.

So I wanted to give you three very practical tips on how you can manage anxiety.

Managing Anxiety 3 Practical Tips

Tip 1 for Managing Anxiety: Breathing

Now, the first one is breathing. It’s a shortness of breath which contributes to the feelings of anxiety, but we can consciously control this by taking long, deep breaths. Sometimes it’s helpful to put one hand on the heart, one hand on the belly, big inhale. Hold the breath for a second and then a slow exhale through the mouth.

How does breathing help with anxiety? What this does is it helps to put our nervous systems into a parasympathetic dominant state. In other words, into the side of the nervous system, which allows us to rest and digest – it relaxes us. But also if you do this in a very practised way for a certain period of time, a few minutes, you can also significantly reduce your resting heart rate – the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest.

You can also significantly reduce your blood pressure and even take some of the cortisol out of your blood cortisol, being a stress hormone. So it’s a very, very powerful way of relaxing your nervous system, and it can be done anytime, anywhere, by anyone. You’re breathing anyway so it’s the ultimate leverage.

Tip 2 for Managing Anxiety: Movement

Number two is movement. Now you definitely don’t want to be doing high intensity frenetic movement, but gentle movement can be really good for easing anxiety. This is something when I’ve had little flashes of anxiety, I’ve gone out for a walk and it’s really helped me in managing that anxiety. So get some gentle movement – yoga, walking, stretching. Movement releases endorphins, which interacts with pain receptors in the body. So that will relax you as well.

One breathing, two movement – and you can combine those together. You could be walking for example, and do a box breathing exercise, which is: breathe in for a count of five, hold the breath for a count of five, breathe out for a count of five, hold the exhalation for a count of five – and that is box breathing. You can do that as you walk.

Tip 3 for Managing Anxiety: Watching the News

And then the very last tip is about the news. Again, it comes back to nervous system management.

I have a total ban on the news. I don’t consume any news actively. Of course, I see things come into my Facebook feed and people tell me what’s going on in the world, but I don’t go onto any news sites.

Interestingly, a couple of months ago around Christmas time, actually I did start jumping on the news once or twice a day. And I immediately found I started to feel more anxious because the news is all doom and gloom. It’s all headlines that will put fear into and make us feel anxious. Often I notice it’s the same news article, the same MP talking about the same thing with a different headline. So it’s just regurgitating the same bad news. It’s like hitting yourself over the head with a bat again and again and again, and then wondering why it hurts.

I really urge you to think about some sort of news ban.

So breathe, move, and don’t consume the news they’re the three practical tips for managing anxiety

I can assure you that will have a positive effect on your physiology, a positive effect on your nervous system and help to manage some of the anxiety. I hope that’s helpful. Stay healthy. Talk to you next week.

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