Feb 29, 2016 1:00 AM

Author: Libby Mitchell

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the United States. An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from them. While medication is important for many dealing with these problems, there are behavioral ways to fight anxiety as well.

Libby Mitchell

Libby Mitchell is the Social Media Coordinator for University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter @LibbyMitchellUT.

anxiety depression wellness

Avoiding Anxiety


Anxiety can lead to rapid, shallow breathing. When you notice it happening make a conscious effort to take slow, controlled, deep breaths. Breath in through your nose for five seconds, hold for two seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for seven seconds. Concentrate on every breath until you are calm.

Get Moving

Regular exercise is important to staying mentally healthy. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that improve mood, and decreases hormones that cause stress in the body. It also tires the muscles making sleep more possible.

Distract Yourself

Read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to a lighthearted podcast. When your brain starts focusing on anxiety, try to move its focus elsewhere.

Increase Your Magnesium

The mineral plays an important role in biochemical reactions in the body -- including the release of chemicals in your brain that regulate mood. Most adults do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Eat foods known to be high in magnesium like leafy greens, avocado, soy beans, and fish to get the amount needed.

Cut Out Coffee and Alcohol

Both coffee and alcohol can worsen anxiety. Cut them out of your diet.

Drink Water

Dehydration doesn't cause anxiety, but it can make it worse. A lack of water can interfere with brain function.

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