Let's Talk Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal and sometimes helpful feeling that helps us get ready for danger and deal with stress. It's a normal way to feel when doing things like taking tests, speaking in public, or going to social events. But when anxiety gets out of hand and gets in the way of everyday life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems worldwide, affecting over 260 million people.
Anxiety disorders can show up in many ways, both physically and behaviorally. There are different kinds of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Anxiety disorders can be treated, which is good news. Psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two are the main ways to treat anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and exposure therapy are common forms of psychotherapy that help people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. Some antidepressants and medicines that help with anxiety may also be helpful. Additionally, coping skills like deep breathing and mindfulness can help people manage anxiety symptoms on their own.
If anxiety is getting in the way of your daily life, you need to get help. If you don't, it can lead to more problems and may even even increase the risk of suicide. People with anxiety disorders can deal with their symptoms and improve their quality of life with the right care and help. Don't forget that you're not alone and that you can get help.
Symptoms Anxiety May Be Causing and Ways to Cope with Them
Anxiety can lead to a wide range of physical and mental effects. Some of the most common signs of anxiety and how to deal with them are listed below.
Excessive worry is one of the hallmark symptoms of anxiety. People with anxiety often worry about things that are unlikely to happen or that they can't change. This can lead to constant feelings of tension, stress, and unease.
How to Deal with Too Much Worry:
- Identify your triggers and try to avoid them: Pay attention to situations or circumstances that tend to trigger your anxiety and make a conscious effort to avoid or minimize your exposure to them.
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga: These techniques can help calm your mind and body, reduce muscle tension, and decrease heart rate. Try to practice these techniques daily, even when you're not feeling nervous.
- Challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones: Negative thoughts can worsen anxiety and lead to a circle of worry. Try to question your negative thoughts and replace them with ones that are more realistic and positive.
- Seek professional help if your worry is interfering with your daily life: A mental health professional can help you learn coping skills and strategies to control your anxiety. They may also suggest medications or other treatments that can help.
- Separate real problem worries from hypothetical worries using the Worry Decision Tree exercise: This exercise can help you separate between worries that you can take action on and those that are hypothetical or out of your control.
- Set aside a daily schedule time to worry about hypothetical worries: By scheduling a specific time to worry, you may be able to decrease the amount of time you spend worrying throughout the day.
- Use mindfulness methods to focus on the present moment and stop worrying. Mindfulness means paying attention to the here and now instead of worrying about the past or the future. Techniques like deep breathing, mindfulness, or body scanning can help you stay in the present moment.
- Use gratitude to reflect on positive experiences and pull yourself away from worry: Practicing gratitude can help shift your focus away from worry and onto the positive aspects of your life. Write down the things you're grateful for or keep a gratitude book to help you remember the good things that have happened to you.
Panic attacks are sudden, intense bouts of fear or discomfort that can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Panic episodes can be scary and make people worry that they will have more in the future.
Ways to Cope with Panic Attacks:
- Practice relaxation methods like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Seek professional help to learn coping skills and techniques.
- Stay away from stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs that can cause panic attacks.
- Identify and avoid situations that can cause panic attacks.
We recommend this deep breathing exercise to stop a panic attack:
Find a quiet and cozy place to sit or lie down. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for four seconds to fill your lungs. For four seconds, don't breathe. Slowly and completely let out your breath through your mouth for four seconds, making a whooshing sound. Wait four seconds and then take another big breath. Repeat this practice of breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, breathing out for four seconds, and pausing for four seconds. Keep doing this for a few minutes, or until you start to feel quieter and more at ease. Focus your attention on your breathing and try not to let your mind wander. If your mind does wander, just notice it and then bring your attention back to your breath. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you practice this breathing method. It might take some time to learn, but with practice, it can help you deal with panic attacks.
Anxiety can lead to many different physical signs, such as:
- Fast heart rate
- Getting wet
- Shaking or trembling
- Shortness of breath
- Pain or trouble in the chest
- Feeling sick or a stomachache
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
How to Deal with Physical Signs and Symptoms:
- Use skills to calm down, like deep breathing or relaxing your muscles one at a time.
- Work out often to lower your overall amount of stress.
- Get a good night's sleep every night.
- Stay away from stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs that can make physical symptoms worse.
Here are some exercises we suggest to deal with the physical effects of anxiety:
Meditation For Breathing, Ep. 3
Meditation For Relaxation
Stretch For Stress
People with anxiety may have unwanted and upsetting thoughts that keep coming back to them. These thoughts can be about harm or danger to oneself or others, and can lead to greater anxiety and fear. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that is defined by unwanted and uncontrollable thoughts or sensations. Intrusive thoughts are a key part of OCD.
At least four things are needed to diagnose OCD: obsessions, compulsive behaviors, taking up a lot of time (at least an hour a day), and getting in the way of daily life. People with Pure O, a type of OCD, have bothersome thoughts but don't do any obvious rituals. But they have mental compulsions like overthinking and looking for reassurance from other people. OCD is a disease of doubt, and people with it try to find confidence where there is none.
Thoughts are just thoughts, but people with OCD often think that if they think something, they will do it. When you realize that your thoughts are just that, thoughts, you may feel less anxious. Parents and other loved ones can look for signs of OCD, like repeating behaviors, avoiding situations, and being irritable, and then get help from an OCD support group or a professional who can treat the disorder.
Ways to Cope with Intrusive Thoughts:
- Practice mindfulness methods to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
- Don't try to get rid of the thoughts. Trying to stop or ignore unwanted ideas can make them worse. Instead, acknowledge the thought and tell yourself that it is just a thought.
- Challenge the thought: Ask yourself if the thought is realistic or if there is evidence to support it. Sometimes, just asking yourself if the thought is true can make it less powerful. Also, challenge your negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
- Focus on the present. Try to shift your attention to the present and do something you enjoy, like reading, working out, or spending time with people you care about. This can take your mind off the annoying thought and make you feel better.
- Seek professional help: A mental health professional can help you create coping strategies and treatments that are tailored to your specific needs.
Irritability and a lack of sleep
Anxiety can also cause irritability and restlessness, making it difficult to relax and feel calm.
How to Deal with Being Angry and Restless:
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Do things that help you calm down and relax, like taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music.
- Avoid stressed situations whenever possible.
- Seek professional help to learn coping skills and techniques.
Try this meditation for irritability:
Welcome to this meditation to help with being irritable. Lie down and close your eyes, letting go of stress in your body. Accept and recognize your irritability, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to feel it physically. Focus on your breath to calm your body's anger and get rid of unhelpful thoughts. Relax your body and give into the moment. Counting from one to five, slowly return to your day feeling refreshed and calm. Remember that life is full of ups and downs, and it's important to build up the strength to stay strong during hard times. Check out the link for an upbeat meditation called Inner Smile.
Depression is a common co-occurring condition with anxiety, and the two can reinforce each other. Depression is a mental health problem that affects a large number of people around the world. Because there are no outward signs, it is often mistaken. Depression is described by a combination of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings rather than physical symptoms. Symptoms of depression include constant feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, or hopelessness, social withdrawal, low energy, lack of motivation, poor concentration, sleep problems, significant changes in appetite, poor self-esteem, thoughts of suicide, and loss of interest in regular activities. These signs must last for at least a week and tend to come and go in cycles. Depression can be caused by a mix of genetic, environmental, and neurotransmitter factors. Most of the time, medication and psychotherapy are used together to treat depression, which has been found to be the most effective method. It's important to realize that sadness is a medical condition that needs to be treated, not a choice or attitude.
How to Handle Depression:
- Get help from a professional to get the right care.
- Practice self-care tasks such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.
- Do things that make you happy, such as sports or spending time with people you care about.
- Try to change any negative thoughts or ideas that might be making you feel depressed.
Social anxiety is a type of anxiety that happens in social situations, like when someone has to talk in public, meet new people, or go to a social event. People with social anxiety disorder worry a lot about what other people will think of them, and treatment can help them deal with these worries and interact with others more easily.
How to Handle Social Anxiety:
- Put yourself in social situations that make you nervous little by little.
- Try to calm down by doing things like taking deep breaths or meditating.
- Try to change your negative beliefs and thoughts about social situations.
- Get help from a professional to learn how to deal with your problems. Most of the time, treatment includes counseling, medication, or a mix of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended as it helps people learn new ways of thinking and behaviors to help them interact with others. Antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs, as well as benzodiazepines and beta-blockers can also be used. However, medication may have unwanted side effects and cognitive behavioral therapy has more long-term benefits.
Anxiety is Common
Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that can cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and mental. However, with the right treatment and coping strategies, people with anxiety can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. By practicing relaxation techniques, challenging negative thoughts and beliefs, and seeking professional help when necessary, people with anxiety can learn to deal with their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
Remember that if you are having trouble with anxiety signs, you should see a doctor. A mental health professional can help you receive a proper diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.
Other Related Articles:
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Using Prayer To Cope With Anxiety And Depression
Decrease Anxiety With These Free Meditations
Other Related Exercises:
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Meditation For Anxiety
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