In the US, 40 million adults are diagnosed with anxiety disorder every year. Anxiety and depression commonly occur together – about half of those diagnosed with depression are also seen to suffer from anxiety. Anxiety is characterized by intense apprehension and worry. It can consume you and can be experienced both at the emotional and physical levels.
While the symptoms of anxiety disorders can be extremely difficult to cope with, the mild anxiety that all of us feel occasionally has its benefits. Low levels of anxiety or stress, which is referred to as eustress, can be beneficial and motivate you to do things. The nervousness you feel before taking on a new project is an example of the good kind of anxiety which will push you towards self-improvement and growth.
Anxiety is a normal part of life; you cannot do away with it. Some people may not have a clinical anxiety disorder, but they struggle with sporadic bouts of anxiety. Whether you have a diagnosable condition or just occasional feelings of stress and nervousness, you can take steps to manage your anxiety and live a productive life.
Deep breathing from the diaphragm triggers your relaxation response. It is a way of telling your body that there is nothing to worry about. Deep breathes can switch you from the alert state caused by the fight-or-flight response to the relaxed state of the parasympathetic nervous system. When you notice you are in a state of heightened anxiety or even panic: inhale deeply from the belly to the chest to a count of four, hold your breath to a count of four, and slowly exhale.
Research has found that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and stress. Mindfulness is a psychological state of awareness of the present moment. You practice always staying in the existing moment rather than falling prey to negative spirals of thought or ruminations. When you find your thoughts racing, simply observe the storyline you are creating in your mind without any judgment. Just notice what is you are feeling, thinking, or imagining without needing to completely identify with it.
Exercise and staying active is a crucial component of mental health. There is no escaping it. All forms of exercise, especially jogging or running outdoors, can improve your mood by releasing happy brain chemicals. Exercise also reduces the amount of stress hormone in the body and helps with sleep issues. All of this can have a direct positive impact on your anxiety levels.
Anxiety has psychological and physical symptoms. While it may be possible to ignore aches and pains, the negative thoughts in your head may make it hard to go on. One way to stop the brain from holding on to negative thoughts is to write them down. Write down any recurring thought that will not leave your head – you need not limit it to stressful thoughts alone. The act of writing them down will relax the brain – since they are safe inside that book, the brain will not struggle to hold on to them anymore.
Caffeine is a stimulant which can heighten the feelings of nervousness and anxiety. Caffeine is found in chocolate, coffee, and many soft drinks. It can take up to eight hours to wear off. Avoid it completely if you are prone to having panic attacks. If you do have a cup of coffee every day, make it earlier in the day rather than evening or night. Caffeine in your system may make it difficult to fall asleep.
We are all human beings and worry about our and others’ lives. It is natural and even healthy when you develop your process for dealing with the emotion. Anxiety does not need to have any negative affect in you life if you don’t allow it to. The above tips may come in handy to help you calm down the next time you feel anxious.
Author Bio: Brett Farmiloe is a contributing writer for OnlineCounselingPrograms.com, a website that offers extensive resources surrounding counseling degrees, mental health education and related professions. He is also enjoys tending his backyard vegetable patch and taking care of a few friendly chickens.
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