Can following a strategy based on the pillars of brain fitness help you cope with anxiety? Absolutely, and not only do you cope with anxiety, you grow new neurons. Not sure about you, but when it comes to brains, I think bigger is better.
So what are the pillars of brain fitness and how can I implement them?
Those pillars are; physical exercise, nutrition including lots of omega 3 fatty acid and antioxidants, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
If you have a lot of stress in your life, learning coping strategies for anxiety can help you manage that stress. While some of the strategies cannot replace the care of a doctor or the relief some medications can give, these steps are ones you can begin right away.
The first step in handling anxiety is to make sure you spend some time every single day doing something fun. Laughter helps to loosen the tight bands of stress in the body and can help you relax. Whatever it is that you find joy in doing, seek that out. Go see a stand up comedian, head to the theater and watch a funny movie or have a night out with your friends.
When you have situations or people in your life who trigger anxiety, then you should avoid them if you can. Surround yourself with people who see the positive side of life and can laugh about the irritations rather than people who get down about them. Spend time with ‘glass half full’ kind of people.
It’s true that if you’re in the company of people who are down and full of negativity, it won’t be long before that negativity transfers to you. The same works with being around people who have a zest for life-you’ll pick up on their zest and it can help to calm anxiety.
One of the best coping strategies for anxiety is to exercise every day. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins. Endorphins have been called the body’s way of combating pain. They’re chemicals that can reduce pain within the body. So as you exercise, your body releases this chemical and you feel better.
Exercise, especially walking, can help to calm fear and stress and it improves how you view yourself as well. You’ll gain muscle tone, lose inches and your self esteem will rise. Low self-esteem is a common factor in people who struggle with anxiety.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean joining an expensive gym or working out with weights. You can take a walk around your neighborhood, build a flower garden in your yard, or volunteer to coach a children’s sports team.
For a lot of people, exercise isn’t something they enjoy the thought of doing. But you can turn any activity into a form of exercise. Decide what it is you enjoy doing and add it to your schedule as if you were making an appointment.
Consider it mental therapy that relieves your mind of stress. Another positive to exercise is that if you struggle with feeling down along with having anxiety, exercise can also help relieve certain types of depression too.
Some coping strategies for anxiety are simple to enact. Get enough sleep. Being tired and overwhelmed can lead to anxiety. When you feel tired and overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing you can do for your body is to take a nap. Twenty quiet minutes with eyes closed may be all you need.
Nutrition is vitally important for your body. Without enough omega 3 fatty acid, which is what most of your neurons are mostly composed of, neurons do not talk together very clearly, and poor decisions can result, leading to more stress. The best source of omega 3 fatty acid is fish, but you can supplement too.
Stress management the way I teach it too my clients means using a computerized heart rate variability biofeedback tool. I have been teaching it to my clients for about 10 years and I use heart rate variability biofeedback frequently over the course of each day. Stress management then becomes a heart beat by heart beat process, which means I am steering my body between eustress and distress very effectively.
Another very important pillar of brain fitness which is also an excellent coping with anxiety tool is the novel learning experience. Usually that involves the kind of learning we experience in learning a new instrument or a new language. If you do not have time for a new language, then I recommend some of the newly available brain fitness tools.
So if I am focusing on growing new neurons, called neurogenesis, then I will be taking care of the pillars of brain fitness which is a powerful stategy for coping with anxiety.