January 14, 2018
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We all feel worried or anxious sometimes. You might feel anxious about the holidays. You might be faced with a problem at work, taking a big test, making an important decision or trying something new. Occasional anxiety and worry are normal and, actually, healthy parts of our everyday lives. However, when someone is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there is much more involved than simple worry.
Anxiety disorders can be complicated, difficult to manage and involve more than temporary worry, concerns or fear. Anxiety can affect anyone, at any age, at any time in ones life. If you are living with an anxiety disorder, you know the anxiety does not simply “go away.” It can get worse over time when not treated, understood and addressed.
Much of the time, our anxiety has no clear reason for happening. We often try to find triggers and meaning behind our worry or panic and often end up with no answers and an overall sense of failure, for not being able to manage our moods or ourselves. Many times, anxiety symptoms can leave us with a feeling of uncontrollable worry, nervousness, panic, shame and guilt. It can leave not only our minds, but also our bodies feeling exhausted, depleted, defeated and alone. People will often tell an anxious person to “just get over it” or “it’s not that big of a deal.” But if you are living with an anxiety disorder, you know it is a big deal and you truly wish you could just “get over it.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel for those who have been living with anxiety and you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting around 40 million adults and children. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Anxiety can be a “monster” trying to play tricks on your mind, and you have the power to control that monster. Anxiety is something that you can learn to safely control, manage, understand, live with and be at peace with!! There are many proven tools that help in reducing anxiety symptoms. Here are just a few techniques that may be helpful.
1. Remember to breathe!
When upset and nervous, we often start to breathe heavy and fast. A lot is going on internally when we are panicking, so deep, steady, slow breaths help to activate the body’s relaxation response. Deep breaths tell our brain that we are okay and it’s safe to relax.
2. Use your senses
Often times, using your senses can give you comfort, help you feel grounded and ease your anxious mind.
3. Focus on the here and now
Often when we worry, we think too much in to the future or dwell on the things we should have done. We often feel hopeless, guilty and out of control. Controlling your anxiety is knowing you can only control the present, the here and now, and not what is going to happen next month, next year or in the past. When you focus on the present moment, you have something smaller to manage and this will lessen your stress. Asking for help is also a way to stay focused and calm.
4. Challenge your negative thoughts
When panic strikes, your thoughts tend to become negative and the fear you have can stop you from trying.
When you can challenge these thoughts and be mindful of how your anxiety is creating a huge roadblock, you gain control. You might tell yourself :
“I can’t do this.”
“My anxiety won’t let me do this.”
“I’m not going to be good at that.”
This sets us up for failure, before we even try. Instead, look at the different outcomes that are possible, explore what “proof” you have you will fail and tell yourself:
“I choose to try this.”
“My anxiety can’t stop me.”
“I know that I am going to be okay.”
5. Accept your anxious mind
Living with anxiety and an anxious mind is possible and for some, it is who we are. Although it can be a challenging road, you can embrace your anxiety and accept who you are. Embracing who you are can be an incredibly powerful way to take control and feel more in control. Learning to laugh, be genuine, and understand that we make mistakes is healthy and part of how we learn. Helping ourselves get to a place where we know that anxiety and its responses is natural and understanding that anxiety and panic will not hurt us can help change the way we view ourselves and our minds.
6. You do not have to go through this alone.
Making sure you have a supportive team around you can help dealing, coping and managing your anxiety that much easier. There are many treatment options out there for those who struggle with anxiety, and figuring out what best suits you is part of the progress.
Overall, remember to smile, embrace who you are, try hard to not ignore the symptoms that you are faced with, and ask for help. Managing our fears and worries is something that you do not have to do alone.