Anxiety is Good, Until it’s Not: 7 Ways You Can Keep It in Check

Healthy Living Natural Remedies

“Anxiety is a good thing, which sounds crazy, right?” Says Dr. Matthew Mosquera, a psychiatry resident at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. “Anxiety is the thing that pushes you to stay up late to complete that final paper, or waking up early for work.”

The Goldilocks Principle of Anxiety: Not Too Much or Too Little

Research has long held that having anxiety enhances performance, but this is unfortunately only true up to a point. Finding a balance between too little and too much anxiety is the key to success.

“ Too little anxiety can actually lead to laziness and complacency, but too much is detrimental to daily functions.” Explains Dr. Mosquera. “And developing strategies to find a healthy middle ground of anxiety is key in keeping you firing in all sillendars.

Signs That You May Have Too Much Anxiety

A lot of people have too much anxiety in North America, as evidenced by the rise in anxiety disorders. According to a recent study, 1 in 4 Canadians suffer from anxiety in their lifetime, while anxiety disorders are now the most prevalent mental illness in the United States.

Some signs you may have too much anxiety include but are not limited to the following, according to Dr. Mosquera.

  • You’re addicted to caffeine, cigarettes, or often have a habit like biting your nails or cuticles.
  • You have a lot of negative self talk going on internally.
  • You can’t sleep or awake in the middle of the night worrying and can’t go back to sleep.
  • You don’t budget well, run late, or routinely miss deadlines.
  • You live in a constant state feeling like you’ve forgotten something.
  • You turn to alcohol, marijuana, or other medications to chill out.

It is completely normal to experience ups and downs, but if you find yourself experiencing anxiety attacks frequently, being mindful of the 7 strategies below can help you to cope and help you be your best self.

Seven lifestyle strategies to help manage symptoms of anxiety

  1. Accept that you cannot control everything- and laugh about it: First off, put your anxiety in perspective: is throwing a tantrum going to help magically charge your phone that you forgot to plug in the night before? Probably not. And is that really what’s bothering you? Probably not. And that’s okay. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get, and try to laugh off your freak-outs.
  2. Do something that keeps you in the moment, like exercising: Do you have an activity or something you like to do that keeps you in the moment? Going for a walk, practicing yoga, listening to music, playing a game of chess, doodling, going for a run, meditating, or getting a quick 10 minute back massage can go a long way.  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes exercise is proven to be very effective at maintaining mental fitness and combating anxiety.
  3. What and when you eat is important: Skipping meals is way too common these days. Skipping meals causes a drop in the body’s blood sugar levels. If prolonged, this drop may lead to increased feelings of anxiety and irritability. It’s also important not eat junk that will put you right back into a funk. Eggs, berries, green tea and chamomile tea have been shown to curb anxiety.
  4. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. You may often use alcohol or caffeine to reduce anxiety because it seemingly dulls anxious feelings, but in reality it makes anxiety worse because it replaces your mind’s ability to cope with stress. Both of these substances amplify anxious feelings you may be experiencing, further aggravating your anxiety and possibly triggering a panic attack.
  5. Get enough rest. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. If you are an adult, aim for 7.5- 9 hours a night. Don’t have time for 9 hours a night? 20 minute power naps can be great. Meditation can also be restorative. Most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but some do experience insomnia due to poor lifestyle habits.
  6. Talk to someone…or something!  Instead of throwing something over the remote being lost in the couch, let friends and family know you’re feeling overwhelmed. Live alone? Just processing out loud can help put a problem in perspective. Pets also make great listeners too- and for the most part- they never voice judgement!
  7. There is no ‘perfect’ time to beat anxiety, just now: It’s important to acknowledge your anxiety won’t go away if you are waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to overcome it.  You do not need to feel especially attractive, healthy, positive, energetic, or confident in any other way to begin. You can’t simply wait for something  or someone else to make things better. Beating anxiety comes through building a positive routine and letting go of old destructive habits. The time is now!

And Remember, Don’t Confuse Stress with Anxiety – NOT The Same Thing

By definition, anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness over an upcoming event. We sometimes try to anticipate the future with negative predictions that, in turn, make us feel powerless and helpless.

“It’s easy to think of anxiety with stress interchangeably, but they are in fact very different physiological responses. Stress is a way to describe the physical changes that occur when you perceive a threat. Usually its expressed with anger or frustration, whereas anxiety is being more of a worry wart.” Says Dr. Mosquera.

And remember- If you try these tips, but still feel like you are unable to avoid destructive habits, please seek out a medical professional to talk to and discuss possible plans of action.

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