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How to release anxiety in six simple steps

1) Breathing
When you’re sitting comfortably and not feeling anxious, have a go at the below breathing exercises:
What to do…
–  Take a normal breath in and count to 4
–  When you breathe out, try to make the breath last longer than the breath in by counting to 8
–  Do this for several breaths, than take a break
–  Practise the sequence a few times and see how it makes you feel and affects your body

2) Exercise
Exercise is great to burn off muscle tension, develop healthy breathing and produce beneficial chemicals in your body
What to do…
–  Aerobic exercise (the kind that gets you out of breath) is the best kind
–  Walk, jog, dance or swim for 20 minutes, as that is when the chemicals are released
–  Try to do this three times a week

3) Food
Anxiety sufferers often have a lack of appetite, or eat comfort food. However, the sugar in the ‘naughty’ foods we like will give us a very short rush, before making us crash back down again.
What to do…
–  Eat something 20 minutes after waking up as this will give you energy for the next few hours
–  Eat little and often throughout the day
–  Avoid sugary, ‘naughty’ foods; instead opt for fresh fruit, dried fruits, milky drinks and nuts

4) Alcohol and drugs
Whilst many people think alcohol can help them cope with stressful situations, this isn’t always the case as alcohol is a depressant. The same goes for smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant that actually raises anxiety levels.
What to do…
–  Take alcohol out of your diet for a week, only allowing yourself the occasional social drink
–  Cut back on smoking and promise yourself once you’ve conquered your anxiety, giving up cigarettes will be the next thing you do

5) Sleep
Some people find it extremely difficult to get enough sleep, as their mind is constantly racing, on full alert and worrying. Some people are exhausted from the constant tension, so tend to sleep for longer, but both can leave you feel lethargic the next day and unable to cope with what lies ahead.
What do to…
–  Write a sleep diary recording when you went to bed and for how long
–  Keep notes of how long it took you to go to sleep, how long before you woke up, if you kept waking up during the night and your general sleeping patterns
–  Once you have a record of your sleep written down, you can see if there is a pattern

6) Positivity
This is easier said then done, especially if you’re anxious about being out of the house, but try to seek out some of the positive and enjoyable experiences you had before your anxiety stepped in.
What to do…
–  Laughing is really good for you as it releases chemicals in our brain that makes us feel happier, so try to watch a funny DVD, listen to something that makes you chuckle on the radio, or read something funny
–  Try to socialize with the people you feel most comfortable with
–  Spend as much time as possible outside
–  Spend quality time with pets

To read up on other useful tips on ease your anxiety, read: Free Yourself from Anxiety: A self help guide to overcoming anxiety disorders (HowTo Books) by Emma Fletcher and Martha Langley