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For all of us, anxiety has been an unexpected and unwanted visitor at one time or another. For others, however, it’s more like a daily occurrence, and one that can happen at random. The arbitrary nature of anxiety itself can be cause for panic; and while medications can be incredibly beneficial, there are prophylactic measures you can take, aside from anti-anxiety drugs, that may actually help deter (rather than merely alleviate) anxiety attacks altogether.

4 ways to prevent anxiety:

1. Monitor your sugar consumption

Eating a diet overly rich in processed sugar—e.g. sodas, cookies, pastries, candy bars, etc.—can worsen anxiety symptoms. Instead of reaching for junk food, as easy and convenient as it is, focus on foods that are low in sugar—such as vegetables, protein, or healthy fats.

2. Ditch the coffee

Caffeine is highly stimulatory and may exacerbate your anxiety. Limiting your coffee consumption to just one cup a day may help your anxiety drastically. Ideally, it would be best to eliminate coffee altogether and switch to herbal teas like chamomile that help promote calmness. If you’re like me and you love the taste of coffee, simply switching to decaf is a great solution.

3. Stop smoking cigarettes

Everyone knows how bad cigarettes are for our physical health, but the extent to which they can affect our mental health is grossly underrated. For those of you who smoke, you most likely reach for a cigarette during anxious times, precisely because you want to relieve the anxiety; but studies have shown that cigarette smoking may actually increase risk of anxiety disorders among young adults and adolescents. This is partly due to the way in which the addictive properties of cigarettes hijack your nerves, and your psychological ability to cope with stress and anxiety. If you are a smoker, finding smoking cessation programs can be very beneficial in helping you quit for good.

4. Good quality sleep

Sleep deprivation can make you more prone to anxiety, so getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. Try and shoot for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. If you have difficulty relaxing at night and getting to sleep, taking a natural herb like Valerian root is very helpful. I buy mine in tincture form at my local health store. It can also be purchased online through Amazon.

In conclusion, although certain circumstances and external situations that trigger anxiety are usually out of our hands, with a combination of all of the above measures—which are in your control—you will likely see a remarkable change in your day-to-day anxiety levels.

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