Reducing Anxiety: Learning how to Cope

Anxiety relieving tips

Anxiety is commonly described as a nonspecific discomfort that doesn’t have the real reason. Anxiety is a worry about future events where apprehension is related to perceived or future treat. The excessive feelings of worry and/or fear in anxiety don’t go away with time. On the contrary, these feelings usually worsen and negatively affect person’s health and the quality of life.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adult population in the U.S. age 18 and older. Anxiety affects 18% of people every year. Even though is a highly treatable condition, only 36.9% of people suffering from anxiety receive treatment.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), mental disorders rank as the first on the list of causes of years lived with disability (YLD) in Europe, with anxiety disorders accounting for 4% of all YLD. Anxiety affects women at the higher rate than men.

Anxiety disorder impacts the way people feel, behave and think. In addition, anxiety disorder often manifests through real physical symptoms like migraines, upset stomach, chest or back pain and other.

Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety represents our physical and emotional response to supposed threats that may or may not happen in reality. Nevertheless, the main characteristic of anxiety is the absence of a real reason that triggers discomfort. If a person feels excessively afraid, weary and concerned, at the same time showing physical signs of anxiety like chest pain, increased heart rate, headaches, sweating, etc., we can talk about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The vital part of coping with anxiety is identifying and acknowledging it. And the best anxiety coping strategy includes changing dysfunctional thoughts and habits.

Learn What Triggers Your Anxiety

Try to determine situations/people/relationships that trigger your anxiety. Is it school, work, family, relationship with a partner or something else? Look for a pattern that causes the feelings of worry and uneasiness. The easiest way to do this is to write a journal or a diary every time you feel anxious, so you recognize the pattern and the characteristic signs of anxiety.

Set the Boundaries

People set boundaries to distinguish the enjoyable experiences from unpleasant ones in their life. Setting boundaries helps us feel in control and eases anxiety symptoms. For example, setting the boundaries at work would mean that you learn to say ‘No’ to unreasonable requirements. If your manager loads you with work and sets tight, hardly manageable deadlines, learning to express your thoughts and feelings in an assertive way may be a great way to manage work-related anxiety.

Media Boundaries

According to different surveys, the longer you spend on social media, the more likely you are to become depressed or anxious. Many researchers have described a rise in worry, loneliness, dependence and even suicidal risk in teenagers due to electronic device use.

This doesn’t mean that you should shut down all your social media accounts and stop using your devices altogether. However, try to set a boundary to your information exposure by limiting the time you spend online. Spend a certain amount of time each day in silence, without a laptop, phone or TV.

Practice Relaxation

Take time-out and practice yoga, meditation, or breathing relaxation techniques. Spend time listening to music, getting a massage or going for a nice long walk.

Practice mindfulness and exaggerate breathing techniques: exercise staying focused on present moment and concentrate on your breathing in situations that trigger anxiety. According to many studies, controlled breathing in people who practice yoga has direct positive effects on their mental health and their physical well-being as well.

Stay Positive

Maintain a positive attitude and welcome humor in your life. As a saying goes, ‘A good laugh goes long way’. Always try to find a reason to laugh and make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Many studies show that laughter has numerous benefits, increasing our overall well-being and improving our mental health. Anxiety increases the level of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol in our body. Laughter can immediately begin to reduce these hormones. The act of laughing increases the oxygen in our body, similar to deep breathing. Combined with reducing stress hormones, the increased oxygen in our body helps muscles to relax. This consequently reduces the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Make Small Changes to Your Daily Routine

Put your anxiety into perspective: is reality really as bad as you believe? Accept that you cannot control everything. Though, change the things that you can. Modify some unhealthy habits. For example, start exercising every day or eat a balanced diet. Do things that you enjoy and that make you feel relaxed.

Instead of striving for perfection, try to do your best. Set small daily goals and be proud of yourself for achieving them. Be grateful for good things in your life.

Build a system of support among your friends and family and talk to them if you feel overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you.

Stay Active and Healthy

Many people find yoga and meditation helpful in coping with anxiety. Find forms of exercise that you find enjoyable and fun. Physical activities can help you boost self-esteem, feel energetic and active. Additionally, many studies proved that physical activity stimulates the brain hormones that generate body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect, known as ‘hormones of happiness’.

Get enough sleep and restrict your coffee and alcohol intake, because they can aggravate anxiety. Eat well-balanced food and don’t skip any meals.

Seek Mental Health Counseling

While self-help techniques may be very effective, research has proved that the most effective way to treat anxiety disorder is with the assistance of an experienced and professional anxiety counselor or therapist. Therapy that has showed the most success in addressing anxiety disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Many studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treatment of social anxiety, phobias, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

CBT addresses misinterpretations that we have about ourselves and the external events and objects. This therapy examines how our negative thoughts contribute to our anxiety and how we react to the situations that provoke anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety is unpleasant mental health condition, but also a highly treatable one. If you are aware that you suffer from anxiety and that you cannot cope with it on your own, seek professional support.  Please feel free to visit our client website and find an experienced professional who can help you address you anxiety issues.

For more information and support with counselling and emotional support please visit our website at www.nationalcounsellingsociety.org

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