Managing Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can be distressing and debilitating. They may contribute to loss of educational and employment opportunities and difficulties in family and social relationships. Managing anxiety is possible and can help you change your life.

Anxiety is very common and most people do experience anxiety at different points in their life.  In fact, you should have anxiety in your life because it’s needed, it keeps us safe. Anxiety is not something you will ever “get rid of” but it is something you can manage and understand the reason/meaning as to why it shows up for you.

Recovery is possible with appropriate treatment such as therapy, attention training, and a range of anxiety management techniques that can help you manage your symptoms. You can learn the following strategies yourself or you can consult with a trained professional.

Different types of anxiety

  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • specific phobias
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • trichotillomania/ dermatillomania

Different ways to manage your anxiety

Gain power over anxiety through knowledge. Understanding the body’s ‘flight-or-fight’ response and its inappropriate triggering in anxiety disorders is crucial to recovery. Educate yourself to regain control over your symptoms.

Learn more about your fear

Learn more about your fear. One of the best ways to conquer fear is to know more about it. Research, study, ready, learn about whatever it is that scares you, you will feel more empowered than fearful. The old adage ‘knowledge is power’ applies here – learning all about anxiety is central to recovery.

Breathing techniques

Breathe work does work, when you exhale longer than you inhale, you are telling the body, I am safe.  Keep breathing out longer than breathing in until you feel a calmer feeling in your body.

It can be helpful for a person who suffers from anxiety to learn how to breathe from their diaphragm, rather than their chest, to safeguard against hyperventilation. The key is allowing your belly to expand as you breathe in.

You can make sure you are breathing correctly by placing one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest. Correct breathing means your abdomen moves, rather than your chest. It also helps to slow your breathing while feeling anxious.

Cognitive therapy

Discover the power of cognitive therapy in overcoming anxiety. By targeting and transforming negative patterns of thinking and beliefs, you can break free from the grip of anxiety. For instance, imagine how your social phobia could be intensified by thoughts like “Everyone thinks I’m boring.” as oppose to “Everybody thinks I am interesting”

Cognitive therapy operates on the principle that our beliefs influence our thoughts, which in turn impact our emotions and behaviors. Consider this scenario: subconsciously, you believe that you must be universally liked in order to be valuable. If someone even glances away during a conversation, you may instantly jump to the conclusion, “They hate me,” fueling your anxiety.

Name the Fears.  Ask yourself, what am I afraid of?  When you can actually label and name the fear, you can make plans to create a safety plan for that fear.

Talk thru it.  After naming the fear and creating a safety plan, talk thru it, once the mind has a plan it’s helpful to verbalize that plan.

Behavior therapy

Turn your anxiety into motivation.  The feeling of fear and excitement can be similar feelings in the body.  Try turning your fear into excitement. 

Reward yourself.  Find small rewards for facing your fear.  Maybe it’s getting a coffee or buying something new.  Everyone loves a reward big or small and focusing on the reward for completing something takes the focus off the fearful item or task and focuses your mind on something more positive.

Think a happy thought.  Find a mantra or saying that is more positive.  I like “everything always works out for me.”  Remind yourself how and when things worked out for you.  Also turning your worry into a prayer or gratitude statement helps you take the focus off the negative.

Treatment of Anxiety

Overcoming your fears can be achieved through various methods. If you have mild symptoms, your doctor may suggest making lifestyle changes as a first step. This can include regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and limiting stimulants like caffeine and alcohol to reduce stress levels.

For more severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeking therapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of psychological treatment that focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to anxiety.

During CBT, a therapist will help you identify and modify patterns in your thinking and behavior that worsen anxiety or hinder improvement. By recognizing and replacing these unhelpful patterns, you can effectively manage and reduce your anxiety. CBT is a commonly used approach for treating anxiety disorders.

Coping strategies and finding help

At some point, anxiety and stress affect everyone. They can manifest differently in different people, and the level of anxiety one experiences can vary, but there is one thing for certain: there are ways to manage anxiety, even if it feels out of control.

Of course, if anxiety is affecting your everyday life and getting in the way of your daily productivity for an extended period, please seek assistance. 

Information about causes and treatment goes a long way in helping to understand anxiety and stress, but there are also some physical and mental things you can do when feeling anxious or stressed.

Contact Me and we can talk about a game plan that is right for you.

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