As the civilization has offered us comfortable living conditions, protected us from massive epidemics and provided basic material security, anxiety (along with depression) became the new plague of the modern society. The numbers are staggering and only seem to grow, not only in the western countries but in the world in general.
There are multiple factors contributing to raising anxiety within human minds. In the hyper connected world of today, we are one click away from learning about all the disasters, breakdowns, accidents and global threats in real time. Our brain also needs to manage the quantity of information it has never managed throughout the history, creating a very high level of permanent noise and mental charge and leaving hardly any room for calm and peace of mind.
While digitally connected, many people today find themselves socially disconnected. Human brain evolved to be a highly social brain and people need daily social interactions to maintain good mental and physical health. Yet, today there is more loneliness than ever.
The way we work is also contributing to the conditions of fear, insecurity and dread. Longer working hours, difficulty to disconnect from e-mails and calls, cruel competition and disruptive innovation may all fuel anxiety.
There are also people who are unlucky to be genetically predisposed or have a heightened sensitivity to anxiety.
Adding elevated levels of stress, financial and housing insecurity to the list, is it really a wonder so many people live under permanent alarm condition?
Our society needs complete overhaul of its foundations, values and lifestyles. But meanwhile how can you manage your personal anxiety for a happy and fulfilling life in the insecure and chaotic world?

EXERCISE. Many people tend to neglect this basic rule to stay physically active on a regular basis, however there is more and more evidence of its benefits, including stress reduction and increased mental resilience. Multiple studies have demonstrated that regular physical exercise creates new brain cells helping to calm the nervous system under stress. It enhances mood, improves sleep, reduces tension and helps deal with negative emotions.

MINDFULNESS. Observe the flow of your thoughts non-judgmentally. Do you notice the tendency to perfectionism, search for approval or search to control? Observe your reactions to negative news and events. Do you react or respond? Reaction is an automatic, emotional and irrational feedback; response is a mindful one. Take notes of your immediate reactions, say to yourself “I’m jumping on the train of anxiety/fobia/anger/panic, but this time I’m not going there”.

LETTING GO OF CONTROL. Make a list of things you can control and those you cannot. Then focus only on the things you can control and invest your thoughts and actions into them.

BREATHING. When the brain perceives a threat, it sends a signal to the body to reduce the use of all the resources necessary for live to the minimum. This is how anxious thoughts make breath superficial, ripping the organism off the most vital and essential substance – oxygen. Since there is a two-way communication between mind and body, become conscious of your breathing as often as you can, and make it slow and deep. This will give your cells all the necessary oxygen and send a message to your brain that the danger is over.

GOING OFFLINE. Almost impossible today, but do it at least in the evening and at weekends. Reduce your access to TV and other media and you will notice more space and calm in your mind.

DIET AND GUT HEALTH. Certain foods and drinks are known to contribute to anxiety. Remove gluten, sugar and coffee for at least a few weeks and feel the difference. Also, beware that recent research finds connection between gut flora and depression/anxiety. You may want to consult a professional to check your gut health and take probiotics.

If you have already tried all of the above and are still suffering from anxiety, contact Neuroptimist to learn how retrain your brain and become anxiety-free with a novel and efficient approach.