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When you finish accomplishing something in your life or achieving a milestone, you would think that you ought to be happy about it and celebrate your victory, right? But experts say that for some people, they actually experience an increase in anxiety levels after something good happens to them.

“Anxiety can be a bit tricky, as it’s a primitive response that’s hard-wired into the brain,” said Carla Marie Manly, a California-based clinical psychologist and author of “Joy From Fear.” “The brain’s fear circuit works very quickly, and it doesn’t always pause to differentiate between good anxiety and bad.”

Often, when your body is used to a chronic state of heightened anxiety, it may struggle to back off from its hypervigilant state even after the source of your stress is over. This may also be worsened by ingrained thought patterns where people believe that nothing good ever lasts for long. Jo Eckler, a Texas-based licensed clinical psychologist, says the reason for this could be that “Perhaps because in your past, bad things that have happened to you often transpired when you were doing well or things were relatively calm.” Instead of reveling in the moment, you spend your time waiting for things to go wrong.

Fortunately, anxiety (and the resultant pessimism) is something that can be managed with the help of some expert-recommended tips:

1. Recognise that you can change your way of thinking

girl with long hair and closed eyes

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Our pre-existing way of thinking can be entrenched in us, but therapists have shown that it is possible to ‘rewire’ the pathways of your brain and to change the neurological way you process and respond to information. Before you even examine new thought-patterns to adopt, you need to first be aware of the flaws of how you think and behave right now.

If you tend to respond too emotionally to things, try to learn that there are more objective and intellectual ways of looking at any given situation. If you are someone who is prone to logical rationalisation to justify your fears or behaviour, try to understand that there are emotional and moral considerations you may tend to ignore or overlook.

From there, you can then start identifying the aspects of this thinking that are causing you unnecessary anxiety, and start formulating a plan for change.

2. Know when your anxiety is being triggered

Graffiti of stressed man holding head in hands

In order to manage or eliminate your anxiety, you need to first acknowledge and be aware when it is happening. Whether it’s your tendency to feel jittery, irritable, or having a growing sense of impending doom looming over you, you need to learn to identify the onset of your anxiety so that you can intercept your thought patterns and stop yourself from spiraling further down the pit of pessimism.

3. Slow down, Work out

When your body is in a state of high-alert, there are several ways to get your nervous system to calm down. For instance, breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation can help to soothe your nerves and to bring your attention to the present moment instead of being fixated on a future worry or fear.

No matter how busy you may be, it is important that you stay active as physical activity and exercises can help your body to better regulate its anxiety levels. Dedicate a fixed time in the morning for a workout; even if it’s just 20 minutes, the endorphin-boosting effects will help to keep you centered and more productive throughout the rest of the day.

4. Eat a healthy diet

Dish of healthy meal on wooden table

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

While you may be used to your cup of coffee in the morning and unwinding in the evening with a beer or glass of wine, caffeine and alcohol actually worsen your anxiety and should be avoided. A recent study found that subjects who consumed 300mg of caffeine a day (i.e. the amount of caffeine in a grande sized Starbucks coffee) reported twice as much stress as those who didn’t consume any caffeine. Alcohol has also been widely studied and acknowledged to be a depressant.

It is a little known fact, but the food that we eat plays a huge role in regulating our anxiety levels. Consuming too much sugar, trans fat, or foods containing high histamine levels may have a negative impact on your mood and anxiety levels.

You can find out more in this article by Harvard Health on the nutritional strategies you can adopt to manage your anxiety.

While you may be used to your cup of coffee in the morning and unwinding in the evening with a beer or glass of wine, caffeine and alcohol actually worsen your anxiety and should be avoided. A recent study found that subjects who consumed 300mg of caffeine a day (i.e. the amount of caffeine in a grande sized Starbucks coffee) reported twice as much stress as those who didn’t consume any caffeine. Alcohol has also been widely studied and acknowledged to be a depressant.

It is a little known fact, but the food that we eat plays a huge role in regulating our anxiety levels. Consuming too much sugar, trans fat, or foods containing high histamine levels may have a negative impact on your mood and anxiety levels.

You can find out more in this article by Harvard Health on the nutritional strategies you can adopt to manage your anxiety.

5. Talk to someone

Stressed Guy in dark room holding hand in his head and sitting on couch

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

If you suffer from overwhelmingly negative thoughts, or you struggle to get your anxiety under control, you may need to speak to a licensed therapist who would be able to advise you on the specific coping mechanisms you can adopt.

Know that millions of people around the world suffer from anxiety and you are not alone in this. Ultimately, you need to choose what works best for you – even if that means seeking external help from a qualified professional on the matter.



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