Similar to a panic attack, anxiety can cause abnormal breathing, which in turn heightens your anxiety. According to Edmund J. Bourne, author of "Coping With Anxiety," when you are anxious you breathe from your chest rather than your diaphragm, which creates shallow breaths and strained speech. Taking in slow, deep breaths is a way to calm yourself down. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Breathe slowly, and repeat for at least five minutes. When you become anxious, notice how your breathing changes. The more aware you are of your breathing, the better you can control your anxiety through controlled breathing. To meditate, find a quiet place with no distractions and lie down on a comfortable surface. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. The key to meditation is calming yourself down by quieting your thoughts. A flood of thoughts can inhibit you from achieving calmness.
According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, foods high in sodium, fat and sugar should be avoided to reduce anxiety. Although fat is needed and produces endorphins, high amounts of fat can make you feel lethargic. Eat foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. According to Bourne, polyunsaturated fat can be found in fish and sunflower oil. Monounsaturated fat is found in olive oil, nuts and avocados. These fats are healthy for you as they lower your blood pressure, which at a high level can affect your anxiety. Reduce or eliminate drinks that contain high amounts of caffeine. Caffeine can exacerbate your anxiety by raising your heart rate. Replace your caffeine intake with water and a limited amount of all-natural fruit juice.
Getting enough sleep is very important for treating your anxiety. According to Bourne, you need seven to eight hours of sleep in order to feel well rested and energized in the morning. Less than seven hours of sleep can leave you feeling groggy and exacerbate your anxiety. Try to go to bed around the same time every day to create a sleeping schedule. Do not drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep.
Anxiety is a natural reaction caused by stress that manifests as constant worrying, nervousness, irritability and being unable to focus. Severe symptoms of anxiety include sweating, fidgeting, rapid heartbeat and diarrhea. If your anxiety is caused by a stressful event, evaluate the situation and brainstorm different possibilities for solving the problem. If your symptoms are an ongoing problem, you may have anxiety disorder. Dieting, breathing techniques and getting more sleep are alternative methods of anxiety therapy that do not use medication to treat the illness.