When it comes to anxiety and chest pain, there is no denying that they invoke some of the most frightening feelings in the world. You cannot help but think that you are having a major health scare like a stroke or heart attack. Most of the time, chest pains are a result of anxiety and in order to reduce both, certain measures must be taken.
What Causes Anxiety and How Does It Lead to Chest Pain?
More often than not, anxiety can be caused by a myriad of factors. This brings up the whole debate on whether nature or nurture has a bigger role to play in causing anxiety. At the end of the day, both of them lend a hand in causing anxiety. Trauma, stress, side effects of medication, lack of oxygen due to elevated altitudes, substance abuse, genetics and brain chemistry have all been proven to cause anxiety in certain people. Chest pains come along when you are so anxious to the point that you end up hyperventilating. This means that your body is trying to cope with the sudden influx of too much oxygen. Hyperventilation causes rapid muscle and blood vessel contractions, which in turn translates to chest tightness and pain.
How To Reduce Anxiety and Chest Pain?
If you regularly feel anxious or stressed to the point that it physically hurts you, there are quite a number of things that you can do to lessen these incidents. One of the first steps that you should take would be to see a doctor. Nothing beats getting professional medical advice because you never know how deep the problem lies until you seek medical advice. Once you have been given the all clear from your doctor, here are some simple things that you can do every time you feel overwhelmed and want to avoid an anxiety attack.
1. Control Your Breathing
One of the simplest things that you can do is to learn how to control your breathing. Whether you are feeling anxious or not, you need to pay attention to your breathing. Deep breaths tend to trigger the relaxation response in our brain. When you can, take some time several times a day to complete simple breathing exercises. Start by inhaling a full breath and hold it in for five seconds. Slowly exhale and hold your breath for another five seconds. Continue doing this several times and you will have completed one session. When you can, complete a few sessions a day to get your body and mind used to this exercise so that hopefully the next time you have a panic attack, your body’s natural response will be to take deep breaths and not hyperventilate.
2. Relax Your Mind
As stress is a major factor in triggering anxiety that in turn results in chest pains, you have to let go of as much stress as possible. Read more motivational books and indulge in comedies and feel good movies. The more you laugh and feel good about yourself, the less stressed out you will find yourself to be.
3. Nurture Your Body
There is no denying that eating right plays a role in how well your body functions. Those who practice Ayurveda, a traditional form of ancient Indian medicine, believe that the types of food that you eat may play a role in reducing anxiety. In general, you should ingest hearty foods that have a good balance of sweet, salty and sour. Opt for healthy options and steer clear from pungent food like chillies and hot spices, bitter food like uncooked greens and dried food. You should also avoid caffeine and large quantities of alcohol and processed sugars. Some of the foods to stock up on are fruit and vegetable juices, white meat like turkey, seafood and chicken, as well as colorful vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, eggplant and tomatoes. You should also opt for whole grain items and natural sweeteners like brown sugar, maple syrup and honey.
4. Get Enough Rest
Lack of sleep will cause stress. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. If you have problems sleeping, engage in a calm activity right before bed such as reading something non-stressful or listening to relaxing music. If you are the type of person whose brain goes into overdrive right before bed, start programming your brain to realize that sleep is essential and it is time to shut down.
5. Be Positive
Surround yourself with happy people. Once you expel the negative energy from your life, you will find that you can and will be a happier and less stressed out person. You will be surprised at how important it is to build and maintain relationships that will have a positive impact on your life. For example if you have a friend who is very competitive, spend less time with her and more time with the friend who encourages you to be the best that you can be. The less you have to worry about impressing others, the happier you will become.
6. Escape Into An Adventure
Going on a holiday will do wonders for your stress. Never underestimate the calming effects of the ocean breeze on your skin or the deep breaths you inhale of pure mountain air. Although it would be nice to drop everything and head for a beach getaway, sometimes we just do not have the time for such luxuries. Work, kids and reality tend to get in the way, so make do with what you have. A great way to escape into another world without leaving ground zero would be to indulge in a good novel. Head to the bookstore and stock up on all the latest bestsellers. If you are not much of a reader, this is the perfect time to start. Reading has been proven to reduce stress as it allows you to escape from your own problems.
One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to sweat it all out. Regular exercise is good for the heart and it urges your brain to release endorphins that help reduce stress. Cardiovascular activities like jogging, swimming, kickboxing, aerobics and team sports are a great way to zap stress. You should also practice yoga regularly as not only will it keep your heart and mind healthy, it will also teach you how to control your breathing. This will significantly play a role in helping you get over a sudden anxiety attack.