Anxiety can range from frustrating to debilitating, and ranks as the most common mental illness in the country. Forty million Americans have anxiety, and the number is only growing. Men are less frequently diagnosed with anxiety disorders than women, but the struggle to cope is equally as difficult. Left unchecked, anxiety can manifest in all sorts of ways including anger, irritability and alcohol abuse.
Fortunately, there are a variety of simple strategies that can help you start dealing with anxiety in a healthy way. We’ve shared our favorites below, along with a helpful infographic.
Try a meditation app
Mental health professionals have long recommended the power of deep breaths. The National Center for Telehealth & Technology created the free app 1 Giant Mind to begin a meditation practice or Breathe2Relax to guide you through belly breathing. Stop Panic & Anxiety Self-Help can help you work through panic attacks, while Buddhify or Headspace can lead you through your choice of meditation. Apps are a useful tool for handling your anxiety on top of your typical treatments and screenings. When you feel panic setting in, breathe in for four counts, and breathe out for the same amount of time. Make sure to engage your diaphragm when breathing.
See a primary care physician
Doctors watch out for both your physical and mental health. In fact, these aspects of your life are linked. Think about seeing a physician to rule out any health conditions that may be hiding underneath your anxiety symptoms, or cope with any physical problems that have stemmed from your mental health struggle. As you figure out the best options for handling your anxiety, NWPC is in your corner.
Consider seeing a mental health professional
Have you ever seen someone for your anxiety? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, 6 out of 10 people with an anxiety disorder do not seek treatment. The good news is that anxiety is highly treatable, and a therapist can get you on the right track. If money is tight, ADDA has a good list of resources for low-cost options. Talk with your physician. Many clinics who are Primary Care Medical Homes have mental health providers located right within the clinic.
Find a support network
When anxiety feels like it’s too much to face alone, support from friends and family can be a lifeline. Unfortunately, men are less likely than women to report having close friends to confide in. Fortunately, fostering those relationships cuts down on stress and mental health stigma, making the effort worth it.
“As [men], we are constantly being told we have to be strong and in control when we can barely get out of bed in the morning and every decision takes all the focus and energy we have. It can add to the downward spiral,” said one male reader to Ask Men. “Learn to ask for help and have someone to lean on, it will make your journey out of that black place a little easier.”
Getting yourself moving doesn’t only counteract anxiety—it can help prevent it. According to ADAA, people who exercise hard on a regular basis are less likely to develop an anxiety disorder in the next half decade. Break your cycle of destructive thoughts by taking a walk. Walking five minutes a day is a quick way to start taking time for yourself.
Eat a balanced diet
Food isn’t going to cure your anxiety, but making sure what’s on your plate is healthy and nourishing can improve your mental state. As the Mayo Clinic suggests, eating more whole grains may increase the calming hormone serotonin in your brain, while limiting alcohol and caffeine stabilizes you.