Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan, Physician Kong Teck Chuan and Tjai Kang Jie
6 Tips on How to Overcome Anxiety
Published | 5 min read
Feelings of uncertainty and dread can disrupt your daily life if they're unmanaged. Learn how to overcome anxiety and live with fewer worries.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you’d be no stranger to fear, dread, or uneasiness. These symptoms can disrupt your relationship, work performance, and daily activities. So how can you overcome anxiety effectively?
One thing to know is that anxiety can be positive. It’s a way for your body to deal with stress and difficult situations. While it makes you feel uneasy and worried, anxiety also can help improve focus and boost energy.
The feeling of uneasiness becomes problematic when your worries become constant and make you fearful.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Healthcare providers have yet to determine the primary reasons behind anxiety onset. However, the following risk factors have been linked with anxiety disorder.
- You’ve been diagnosed with arrhythmia or thyroid gland disorders
- You’ve experienced trauma
- Your family has a history of anxiety or other mental health disorders
- You withdraw when meeting new people for the first time or in a new environment
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), anxiety is associated with various organ system disorders.
“Too much worry impairs qi circulation in the Spleen and Liver and leads to Internal Fire or Qi Deficiency, explains Eu Yan Sang TCM physician Kong Teck Chuan. “Sudden episodes of shock are often seen in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It negatively affects the bond between Heart shen (神) and Kidney zhi (志) and may contribute to insomnia.”
Clinical and Alternative Remedies to Overcome Anxiety
You can manage your anxiety with a healthy diet and a limited intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. In addition, it’s crucial to carve me time regularly into your schedule for stress relief. Here are a few other coping tactics to overcome anxiety.
Use the 3-3-3 technique
Calm your mind with this technique, which can centre and return you to the present moment.
- Look around and call out the first three things you see.
- Next, listen for sounds in your environment and describe three that you hear.
- Finally, move your arms, ankles, and fingers.
Stay away from sweet and salty food
An excessive intake of refined sugar may worsen your anxiety. Instead, opt for fruits such as mangoes, strawberries or grapes when you’re craving something sweet. They’re loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants, which can help protect your body’s cells against stress.
Also, choose protein-rich foods such as meats, chickpeas, and tofu. Their amino acids help with your brain’s chemical balance, which can help soothe anxiety.
Participate in cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), conducted by a psychologist or therapist, encourages a shift in behaviours and mindset. It shows you how to tackle people or situations that trigger your fear or anxiety.
One CBT tool is exposure therapy. You confront your feared stimuli head-on to reduce and manage your reactions to distress.
Take your medication as prescribed
Doctors typically prescribe tranquillisers such as benzodiazepines for anxiety, which slows down the nervous system to help relax the muscles and calm the mind. However, a high dosage of benzodiazepine can induce brain fog, making you sleepy or uncoordinated. You must take anti-anxiety medication only when prescribed.
Although they’re highly effective for short-term issues, doctors rarely prescribe benzodiazepines because they become less effective over time and can be addictive. Due to these risks, experts suggest that doctors shouldn’t prescribe its continuous use for more than six months.
Alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium) are short-term solutions and can relieve anxiety within 30 minutes to an hour.
Use herbal remedies
Most licensed TCM practitioners recommend herbal formulas such as Xiao Yao San (逍遥散) and Yang Xin Tang (养心汤) for anxiety. The former alleviates stress by nourishing blood, soothing Liver qi, and strengthening the Spleen. Yang Xin Tang helps tonify the Heart, replenish blood, and calm Shen.
Albizia bark (he huan pi, 合欢皮), Nutgrass galingale rhizome (xiang fu, 香附), and rose flower buds (mei gui hua, 玫瑰花) may help with generalised anxiety disorder. However, be mindful of these ingredients because they’re unsafe for pregnant women.
If you have phobia-related anxiety, you can improve circulation and stabilise blood pressure by making a herbal tea with dried hawthorn fruit slices.
Acupressure reduces your body’s stress response by balancing hormones and neurotransmitters. It can also help regulate the release of chemicals and inflammatory markers that trigger anxiety. Here are other ways acupuncture can help with anxious thoughts.
- Promotes relaxation by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system
- Lessens your sensitivity to pain and stress by activating the midbrain – the primary somatosensory cortex – and deactivating the left-brain hemisphere
- Reverses the effects of behavioural and biochemical changes induced by stress
Some of the points that an acupuncturist may choose to work on are:
- Shen men (HT7, 神门)
- Nei guan (PC6, 內关)
- Dan zhong (CV RN17, 膻中)
- Bai hui (DU GV20, 百会)
- Yin tang (EX HN3, 印堂)
A form of Qigong called Baduanjin (八段锦) can improve anxiety in adults between 50 to 70 years of age.
Stay patient as you explore how to overcome anxiety. You may discover a friend’s treatment or a healthcare provider’s advice may not suit you, and that’s okay. After all, there is no one-fits-all treatment for anxiety. Remember, asking for help is always a step in the right direction.
- MedlinePlus. Anxiety. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- AdultMentalHealth.org. 2017. Managing and Reducing Anxiety. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- Mental Health Connecticut (MHC). The Connection Between Protein and Your Mental Health. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- Help Guide. Anxiety Medication. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- Morningside Acupuncture NYC. Acupuncture for Anxiety. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- York Chiropractor and Oriental Medicine. 5 Acupoints for Anxiety You Can Administer Yourself. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
- ResearchGate. 2019. Effect of Baduanjin Exercises on Sleep, Anxiety and Quality of Life in 50- 70 Years Old Population. [online] [Accessed 20 December 2022]
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