Last updated:

November 4, 2022


 min read

Lifestyle changes for managing anxiety

While lifestyle changes cannot replace therapy, you can use them in addition to therapy to manage the symptoms of anxiety better. Keep reading to learn more!

Reviewed by
Written by
Ipsa Khurana

Mindful, healthy habits can help you manage anxiety, even if you are already seeing a therapist or taking any medications. These habits will also ensure that, over time, you are more in control of your anxiety levels. 

Wondering how to get started on making lifestyle changes that will help you manage anxiety? Here is your guide to a few easy but essential steps! 

Make changes to your diet 

Among many other reasons, the fact that anxiety affects the gastrointestinal tract proves how important regulating your diet is to manage anxiety. A balanced, nutritious diet can improve your physical and mental health, so it's a win-win! 

One way to approach this is by limiting the intake of saturated fats and refined sugar. Instead of these items, try including complex carbohydrates, fatty acids, omega-3, and omega-6 by increasing your consumption of nuts, fish, and olive oil. 

Research shows that certain amino acids, referred to as branched-chain amino acids, decrease the risk of mental disorders like anxiety and depression. Another study conducted on a different population found that a higher intake of magnesium, folic acid, B6, and B12 is instrumental in managing depression. Taking supplements for these nutrients can help, but make sure to take them in regulation and only after consulting a medical professional.

Since caffeine can make you jittery and hyperactive, it is recommended that you limit your caffeine intake (coffee, soft drinks, etc.). Yes, staying hydrated is a must, but a good old glass of water works just fine for that! 

Get a good night’s sleep 

Being stressed and anxious easily tires your brain and body, which means you'd require more rest. So, make sure you get enough sleep every night. We get that this could be harder with anxiety since anxiety and sleep do not usually go hand-in-hand. 

Clinical anxiety can put you at risk of insomnia, and insomnia can aggravate symptoms of anxiety. You can manage this vicious cycle by practising healthy sleep habits such as removing bedtime distractions (your phone, duh!), exercising during the day, limiting caffeine intake for about 6 hours before you go to sleep, and making relaxation techniques a part of your nighttime routine.

Ideally, you should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and stick to the same times for going to bed and waking up.

Exercise regularly

Exercising goes a long way to release the extra energy you feel when you are anxious and get the happy hormones flowing through your body. You don’t have to sign up for a gym membership right away; regular morning or evening walks can do the trick too. Or, you can swim, cycle, jog, or dance to your favourite playlist! A good tip is to choose an exercise you enjoy so that you can stay consistent.

If you choose to exercise outdoors, stepping outside would also help you stay connected to nature! Going to a park for your evening walk can have a calming effect on you, resulting in a relaxed state of mind. Plus, exercising will help you feel tired by the end of the day, ensuring better sleep.

Manage stress by practising mindfulness

Needless to say, stress can make anxiety worse. On the flip side, stress management becomes more difficult when something constantly triggers your anxiety. Therefore, it is important to prioritise your mental health so that you can keep both stress and anxiety levels under check. 

If you find yourself struggling with racing thoughts that lead to stress and overwhelm, try using mindfulness techniques such as journaling to organise your thoughts. You can also practice breathing exercises, listen to ASMR, write morning pages daily, and simply be more mindful of your actions and interactions throughout the day. 

Have a support system to fall back on

When dealing with mental health issues, having a compassionate support system in the form of close family, friends, and community can make you feel cared for, which can be very reassuring. Moreover, a strong sense of community positively impacts your brain chemistry by releasing oxytocin, which is good for your overall emotional and mental well-being. 

In the absence of immediate friends and family, joining mental health support groups - such as the Cancel Stigma Discord channel by Rocket Health - can also make one feel heard and understood.

Need help?

Seeking professional diagnosis and treatment can do wonders when it comes to managing the symptoms of anxiety disorders. And that is exactly what Rocket Health's team of experienced, non-judgmental mental health practitioners can help you with! Click on the link below to get started.