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Posted by Daniel Amen, MD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety disorders, which equates to roughly 18% of the population. Although anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental disorders present in the general population, only one-third of those suffering will receive treatment.

There are different types of anxiety, and each has its own unique list of symptoms. Social anxiety, an intense fear of social situations, afflicts many in our society, particularly introverts. According to a recent study, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) more than doubles the risk of cancer mortality in men. Long-term effects of anxiety include high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

There is Hope for Healing Your Anxiety

While daily exercise, quality sleep, supplements and good mood foods are essential stress reducers, there are many other effective strategies for treating anxiety, including: 

1. Be Grateful-
 Write down five things you are grateful for every day. Focusing on the things you are thankful for helps to calm the deep limbic or emotional areas of your brain.

2. Take a Time-Out- There are a variety of relaxation methods, including diaphragmatic breathing and listening to brain-enhancing music. Find a technique that works for you and use it whenever you become stressed.

3. Face Your Fears- Unless the situation is life-threatening, do not leave, run away from, or ignore whatever is causing you to have anxiety. Like standing up to a bully, you must face the fear or concern directly, or it will always have control over you and increase your anxiety.

4. Learn to Let Go- Accept that you can’t control everything. If you’re holding on too tightly, you might be causing yourself unnecessary stress, which will only make your anxiety worse.

5. Repeat a Phrase- Repeating simple words like “May I be safe and secure” can increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones.

6. Talk It Out- This is an absolute must. Let friends and family know when you’re emotionally overwhelmed. Seek professional help if necessary, but don’t fight your battles alone.

7. Use a Visual Anchor- Whether it’s looking up at the clouds or staring at a picture of a tropical paradise, find a visual anchor that will calm you down during stressful situations.

8. Exaggerate Your Greatest Fear- Tell your fear to someone in as dramatic fashion as possible. Repeating the story several times will make your fear seem downright silly.

9. Laugh- When all else fails, laugh. Laughing releases stress-reducing endorphins into your bloodstream. Laughter truly is the best medicine and can work wonders in relieving anxiety.

 

Dr. Daniel Amen is a co-founder of The Daniel Plan, physician, double-board certified psychiatrist, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, neuroscientist, and nine-time New York Times best selling author.  He is the founder and medical director of Amen Clinics in Newport Beach and San Francisco, CA; Bellevue, WA; Reston, VA; Atlanta, GA; and New York City, NY.  Dr. Amen’s extensive research and innovative approach to optimizing the brain has helped missions of people worldwide.



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