We all feel anxious from time to time. But when anxiety inteferes with your life, it's time to take action. Our ShopSmart editors suggest five simple steps to help you ward off or ease anxiety by combating the feelings or by reducing stress, which is a major trigger.
Exercise. Regular physical activity can ease anxiety and depression by boosting your mood and providing a time-out from worry. (No doubt, burning some calories can also burn off some stress!) Research shows that people who get regular aerobic exercise, the type that gets your heart rate up, have lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure under duress. And exercise helps combat insomnia, which can go hand in hand with anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes most days of the week and pick an activity that gets you good and sweaty.
Relax. Mind-body activities like yoga and tai chi have documented effects on both stress and anxiety levels. In addition, take time to relax with a favorite hobby or music you love—the more engaging, the better, since it gives your mind something constructive to focus on rather than worry. If you feel your stress has reached a crisis point, consider a course like the University of Massachusetts’ popular mindfulness-based stress-reduction program, which teaches you to focus on the present moment and tune out external stressors.
Write. Recording troubling thoughts in a journal can help you to get them off your mind and also to track your anxiety and identify things that trigger it.
Skip herbs. There is conflicting evidence about whether supplements like kava that are claimed to combat anxiety and stress work, and they might harm your liver.