Living with Anxiety: 10 Easy Ways to Help You
Anxiety is a normal reaction to many events in our day-to-day lives. Certain situations, people, or circumstances can lead to a minor feeling of worry or apprehension about what is to come next. These things do not need to be “bad” to produce anxiety. Any event, positive or negative, can lead to anxiety. Consider childbirth, marriage, job interviews, a first date, starting college, etc. The list of potential anxiety-producing circumstances is long. For most people, the feelings of anxiety that result from day-to-day events subside soon after they occur.
But this is not the case for all. Someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder often experiences intense, excessive, and persistent worry or fear about everyday situations and experiences. In these cases, they cannot seem to shake the worry, even if they know deep down there is little to be concerned about. Sometimes, the feelings of fear evolve into a terror that can produce overwhelming and debilitating panic attacks. Someone with an anxiety disorder will struggle to participate in daily activities because their anxiety is so intense. More often than not, the emotions they experience are nearly impossible to control and far exceed the level of actual danger present in the moment.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders, although connected, are not necessarily the same thing. Anxiety is an emotion or feeling. It is the body’s natural response to stress, fear, or worry. Anxiety is a normal reaction to an event or circumstance. “Normal” anxiety, in general, does not last. In nearly all cases, feelings of general anxiety resolve in a matter of hours or days. However, when someone has an anxiety disorder, anxiety symptoms or emotions last far longer. If you find you experience anxiety, and it lasts for six months or more and interferes with your day-to-day functioning, you may have an anxiety disorder that could benefit from treatment at Meadowglade.
What are Anxiety Disorders?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, there are several types of anxiety disorders, including those classified as specified and unspecified. Specified anxiety disorders include diagnoses many are familiar with, including agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Anxiety disorders related to substance use and abuse and anxiety disorder due to a medical condition also fall into the specific anxiety category.
The term or category of unspecified anxiety disorder describes conditions where phobia or anxiety symptoms do not meet the exact diagnostic criteria for any other anxiety disorder; however, they are significant enough to be distressing and disrupting to one’s ability to function each day.
10 Tips for Managing Your Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are one of, if not the most common mental health disorders. According to data from the National Institutes of Mental Health, as many as 22% of adults have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are more common in women than men. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, few of those who could benefit from treatment will ever seek or get help. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your anxiety symptoms.
Eat well and get enough rest
The mind and body cannot be calm when essential things such as sleep and nutrition are lacking. When you are hungry, or your body lacks vital nutrients, it cannot heal or function at 100% capacity. This makes it easier to get overwhelmed or experience stress. Sleep is also essential to ward off stress and anxiety. When we are properly rested, the mind can manage better stress and other triggers that lead to anxiety.
Incorporate physical activity into your day
Physical activity does not have to be excessive or exhausting. You do not need a gym membership or to participate in CrossFit classes. Simple things like going for a walk or taking a yoga class can help get your body moving and help ward off anxiety and stress.
Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness skills are an integral part of many treatment programs for a wide range of mental health conditions. Practicing mindfulness meditation for a few moments each day can help you relax and focus on the now. Mindfulness is an excellent, healthy, and low-impact way to reduce stress and anxiety while focusing on your needs. If you need help, there are many guided meditation videos online ranging from a few moments to thirty minutes or more.
Reduce (or omit) caffeine
Coffee, tea, and energy drinks have become almost as important as breakfast for many people. For that matter, there are some instances where a caffeinated beverage is substituted for a balanced meal far too often. Unfortunately, caffeine can lead to anxious, jittery feelings that often accompany anxiety and panic attacks. If you struggle with severe anxiety, reducing or even omitting caffeine from your diet may be best.
Staying busy by participating in activities you enjoy can help to take your mind off sources of stress and anxiety. Boredom is a strong contributor to anxiety as it allows your mind time to wander and think about those things that cause stress. So, get out and go for a hike, to a museum, read a book or enjoy a play or movie. Pick something you enjoy or try something new.
Remember that it is OK not to be perfect
The mission to achieve perfection is one that many struggle with. Today, more than ever, people of all ages feel the pressure to achieve perfection in whatever they do. There is a constant, often unspoken pressure to be “the best” or at the top of your game. This consistent and often unattainable pressure can quickly lead to stress and anxiety. An important part of anxiety reduction is remembering that it is OK not to be perfect and that those moments where you do not achieve the success you seek are crucial learning opportunities. They provide insight and wisdom that can be called upon in the future.
Worries about the future are OK as well
Worrying about an upcoming event or change is a normal and expected source of anxiety. It is OK to feel a certain amount of worry when you do not know what is to come or what the outcome of a particular situation may be. Instead of allowing fear to take over and potentially diminish the positive aspects of future situations, sit with your worry, and consider the source of your feelings. Don’t ignore them, but instead consider the known and potential positives over the potential negatives.
When possible, avoid stress
Stressful conversations or situations are often made worse by your current emotional or physical state. Don’t engage in them if you are tired, hungry, ill, or otherwise incapable of managing a stressful conversation or similar situation. If you know something will bring about stressful emotions, try to put it off until a time when you are better able to address it.
Take a moment to sit down and write about the thing that is giving you anxiety. For example, what would happen if you did not get the job you are about to interview for? How would that impact your current day-to-day functioning and obligations? Rank each of the impacts on a scale of 1 to 10. You may be surprised to learn how many effects aren’t as significant as you once believed. Next, come up with a plan to cope with the stress that a particular situation may cause. Having a plan you can turn to can help quickly reduce stress and anxiety levels before they become harmful.
Know when to seek help
When anxiety begins to disrupt your day-to-day life, it is time to seek help. Disruption can take many forms, including disrupted sleep, increasing frequency of anxiety symptoms, new or worsening compulsive behaviors, increased isolation, and worsening intensity of symptoms such as frequent panic attacks. If your anxiety is worsening and self-help measures do not help, reach out to the team here at Meadowglade to learn more about the wide range of treatment options for anxiety disorders.
There are several therapies often used to help address anxiety disorders. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is often considered the “gold standard” treatment. During therapy sessions, you will work with your therapist to understand the negative thoughts and feelings that are contributing to your anxiety. You will also learn how to question the validity of negative thoughts and begin replacing them with positive ones. Your therapist will help you practice and reinforce techniques that will empower you to face your worries, stressors, and other triggering situations. Because mental health treatment must be unique to the individual, our team will work with you to design a comprehensive treatment plan that meets your specific needs and goals. Your needs will help determine the type, model, frequency, and duration of treatment that is best suited to help you safely and successfully manage your anxiety.
Anxiety disorders can be challenging for people of all ages to manage in safe and healthy ways. In some cases, the symptoms you may experience due to anxiety can be overwhelming and impossible to manage without the help and support of therapy. At Meadowglade, our team of highly skilled, caring, and compassionate treatment providers can help you understand how the symptoms of your anxiety disorder impact your day-to-day functioning and future successes.
If you are ready to seek help to overcome anxiety, contact the admissions team at Meadowglade today to learn more about how therapy for anxiety can help. Our staff is here to provide the support and guidance you need to get started on your journey to freedom from anxiety and the challenges so often experienced when trying to navigate its difficult symptoms.