Anxiety Disorders — Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 26,740
    Psychologist Douglas Mennin, PhD, talks about changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce stress and anxiety.

    Dr. Douglas Mennin: I'm Dr. Douglas Mennin, a psychologist and a professional member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Today we are discussing stress and anxiety, and now I want to talk about changes you can make to your lifestyle to reduce both. Anxiety is a part of life, but you can do many things to decrease it.

    Take a look at what's causing your stress and work to change your lifestyle accordingly. Don't neglect yourself or your health. Good nutrition, adequate sleep, and trying to manage stress contribute to your well-being. Regular and frequent physical activity is a proven way to manage stress. Participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve sleep and self-esteem.

    Other effective methods include mind-body practices of breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, these strategies will help you manage: Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head. Eat well-balanced meals, keep energy- boosting snacks on hand. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Get enough sleep; when stressed, your body needs additional sleep. Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Take deep breaths, inhale and exhale slowly. Do your best, instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.

    Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective; is it really as bad as you think? Welcome humor, a good laugh goes a long way. Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Get involved, volunteer, or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you break from everyday stress.

    Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you are felling stressed and anxious and look for a pattern. Talk to someone; tell friends and family you are feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you.

    Talk to a physician or a therapist for professional help. If you want to learn more, visit and check out our other videos on anxiety and anxiety disorders, including understanding what is an anxiety disorder.