4 Ways To Reduce Anxiety Before it Becomes a Disorder

smiling woman

Approximately 264 million people are estimated to live with anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization. Data published in Web MD indicates that in the United States, one person among every five people is likely to be affected by an anxiety disorder. A person who is experiencing anxiety feels fearfully uneasy or nervous about something. Unlike anxiety, which is an ordinary emotional response to certain conditions, an anxiety disorder is a mental illness that typically requires treatment by medical professionals. But if everyday anxiety is not addressed by developing habits that can reduce or control it, anxiety could grow into an anxiety disorder. To prevent this from happening, learn the four healthy habits that you can use to reduce and control your anxiety. 

Adjustment Skills: Learning skills that help you to adjust to new or difficult situations and help you to deal with difficult people can help you to arrest feelings of anxiety. There are many different types of adjustment skills such as interpersonal skills and parenting skills. Gaining interpersonal skills has been found to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, according to the Journal of Clinical Adolescent Psychology. Similarly, research published in the Journal of Neonatal Nursing indicates that gaining parenting skills reduces anxiety. So learning adjustment skills can reduce the impact that anxiety has on your thinking and behavior.

Relaxation Exercises: Relaxation exercises can be used to reduce anxiety, according to the European Journal of Oncology Nursing. You can use relaxation exercises to reduce anxiety with the following steps. 

relaxation exercises

  1. Gain an awareness of the different things in your life that cause anxiety.
  2. Use a relaxation exercise such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) when you begin to feel anxious.  
  3. When you are not feeling anxious, recalibrate the way in which you perceive the things that cause anxiety. You can do this by setting a standard for the most rational way in which each thing that causes anxiety can be perceived. When you start feeling anxious about one of those things, remind yourself of the standard that you set. 

A Healthy Diet: Diet has been proven to have an impact on health. A diet that is high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, healthy fats, and dietary fiber can improve brain health, according to research published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. But the definition of a healthy diet is somewhat controversial. For instance, research on nonhuman subjects indicates that a diet that is high in fat increases anxiety levels, according to Neuropsychopharmacology. Combining the consumption of saturated fats with carbohydrates with a high glycemic index has been found to negatively affect health, according to the International Journal of Molecular Science.

Yet research published in Lancet indicates that the consumption of saturated fats decreases the risk of mortality. There are also many research studies indicating that the Mediterranean diet, which contains large quantities of monounsaturated fats from unprocessed foods such as olive oil, nuts, and vegetables, has a range of positive impacts on health.

So despite the fact that research on the consumption of certain components of food such as fat is confusing, eating a diet that is high in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats where you usually choose whole foods over processed foods is a positive way to increase the health of your brain.  

Adequate Rest: Getting adequate rest is a key factor in maintaining health. The lack of adequate sleep has been identified as a risk factor for the development of mental diseases in people, according to research published in Neurology. So to prevent your anxiety from becoming an anxiety disorder, do your best to get sufficient sleep each day. And remember to take each Sunday off! 

So making a few changes can help you to manage your anxiety before it becomes a problem. Keep in mind that caring for yourself is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Learning the skills and exercises that can help you to control your everyday anxiety, making sure that you get adequate rest, and eating healthily are all important components of self-care. As anxiety involves feeling worried about different things, investing in self-care activities is a great way to prevent your anxiety from playing a key role in your thoughts and behavior.

The positive feelings that you generate by investing in self-care activities can help you to reduce or control anxiety. For instance, even the simple self-care activity of using a scented body moisturizer each day increases life satisfaction and reduces stress, according to PLos One. But keep in mind that when you start making these changes, you are unlikely to be able to stop feeling anxious right away. But developing these four healthy habits that place an emphasis on self-care will gradually help you to keep your anxiety at a manageable level. 


Dehghan, Mahshid, Andrew Mente, Xiaohe Zhang, Sumathi Swaminathan, Wei Li, Vishwanathan Mohan. "Associations of Fats and Carbohydrate Intake with Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality in 18 Countries from Five Continents (PURE): A Prospective Cohort Study. Lancet, 390, (2017): 2050-2062.

Dunhill, Sophie, Kristie Ota, Eric Wohleb, Kurt Rasmussen. "High-Fat Diet Induced Anxiety and Anhedonia: Impact on Brain Homeostasis and Inflammation." Neuropsychopharmacology, 41, no. 7 (2016): 1874-1887.

Harding, Alice, Ulrike Gonder, Sarita Robinson, StJohn Crean, Sim Singhrao. "Exploring the Association between Alzheimer's Disease, Oral Health, Microbial Endocrinology and Nutrition." Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9, (2017): 398. 

Leao, Eliseth, Daniela Fabbro, Rebeca de Oliveira, Ingrid dos Santos, Elivane Victor, Rita Aquarone, Cristiane Andrade, Vivian Ribeiro, Roselaine Oliveira, Rosa Friedlander, Daniela Ferreira. "Stress, Self-Esteem, and Well-Being among Female Health Professionals:  A Randomized Clinical Trial on the Impact of a Self-Care Intervention Mediated by the Senses." PLos One 12, no. 2 (2012): e0172455

Schwingshackl, L., G. Hoffmann. "Mediterranean Dietary Pattern, Inflammation and Endothelial Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Intervention Trials. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease, 24, (2014): 929-939.

Sprecher, K. E., R. Koscik, C. Carlsson, H. Zetterberg, K. Blennow, O. Okonkwo. "Poor Sleep is Associated with CSF Biomarkers of Amyloid Pathology in Cognitively Normal Adults. Neurology, 89, (2017): 445-453.

Susan Sweeney, Rachel Rothstein, Paul Visintainer, Robert Rothstein, Rachana Singh. "Impact of Kangaroo Care on Parental Anxiety Level and Parental Skills for Preterm Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit." Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 23, no. 3 (2017): 151-158.

Tsitsi, Theologia, Andreas Charalambous, Evridiki Papastavrou Vasilios Raftopoulos. "Effectiveness of a Relaxation Intervention (Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Guided Imagery Techniques) to Reduce Anxiety and Improve Mood of Parents of Hospitalized Children with Malignancies: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Republic of Cyprus and Greece." European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 26 (2017): 9-18.

Varela-López, A., F. Giampieri, P. Bullón, M. Battino, J. Quiles. "Role of Lipids in the Onset, Progression and Treatment of Periodontal Disease. A Systematic Review of Studies in Humans." International Journal of Molecular Science, 17, (2016): E1202.

Young, Jami, Heather Makeover, Joseph Cohen, Laura Mufson, Robert Gallop, Jessica Benas. "Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training: Anxiety Outcomes and Impact of Comorbidity." Journal of Clinical Adolescent Psychology, 41, no. 5 (2012): 640-653.

Web MD. "Preventing anxiety." Web MD. Last modified April 13, 2018. Accessed March 7, 2019. https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/preventing-anxiety 

World Health Organization. "Depression and other common mental disorders." World Health Organization. Accessed February 11, 2019. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/254610/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf?sequence=1

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