Relieving anxiety at home by destressing and relaxing

We all experience anxiety at different points in our lives and it’s a natural human instinct to experience it, but what are the best strategies for dealing with it? We turn to the science to find out…

Is your brain permanently whirring? Are you constantly worrying or catastrophising? The good news is that you aren’t alone and 1 in 6 people report experiencing anxiety in any given week.

The even better news is that there are ways to bio-hack your body and brain to feel better, all of which are backed by science.

1) Meditate

If you struggle with racing thoughts and anxiety, meditation is a good way to quieten and deal with those thoughts. Numerous scientific studies suggest that regular meditation practice can improve immune response, reduce depression and increase feelings of self-compassion – all of which reduce anxiety.

Worried that you don’t have time to meditate? The good news is that just three minutes a day can reap huge rewards – and it’s the regular habit of doing it, rather than the time spent that reaps the rewards.

To help you out, eligible Vitality members get 30% discount off the price of an annual subscription for Headspace, an app that provides guided meditations from 1 to 60 minutes. To find out more visit the Member Zone.

Want to find out how meditation helped Jessica Ennis-Hill

2) Exercise

It’s no secret that the benefits of exercise go far beyond the physical, with studies showing how moving your body can help you to switch off from the stressors of the day and bolster resilience. Going deeper into what happens in your head, exercise actually alters your brain chemistry, increasing the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals.

Want to find out more about why exercise is good for your mental health?

3) Baking

With social media awash with photos of #lockdownloaves, #sourdoughstarters and #quarantinecookies, the practice of pandemic baking is rising faster than a sponge. Spend an hour or so kneading, rolling, mixing and stirring and your brain will thank you for it. Studies have shown that baking offers a great antidote to feelings of anxiety, decreasing stress, amping up self-esteem and helping us live in the moment rather than worrying about the future.

Want to find out more about why baking is like meditation?

4) EFT

EFT – aka pressure point tapping – is effective, easy to do, and has been proven to reduce anxiety. A DIY complementary therapy that involves tapping various points on the head and neck, EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapies) works like acupuncture without the needles, clearing energy flow and signalling to the brain to relax. It might sound a bit out there, but last year clinical studies found that tapping can significantly reduce levels of anxiety and depression. 

Want to find out more about how to try EFT today

5) Gardening

Google searches for ‘grow plants’ have increased by more than 1150 per cent throughout lockdown and The Royal Horticultural Society has experienced hundreds of thousands more people looking for advice on its pages compared with last year. Beyond the practical reasons for this surge (more time spent at home and in our gardens), there are psychological drivers for people going green fingered.

According to a Danish research study, 10 weeks of gardening produced similar benefits to 10 weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy. Our advice? If you’ve got any outdoor space at home, even the smallest square, dig in.   

Want to know how to get growing today?