An overview of anxiety and what you can do to cope with this increasingly common condition.
For many people, life involves an element of anxiety. This is perfectly normal and in some cases it also helpful. When we worry over the current circumstances in our life, things such as finances, work, and family, the worry can lead to well-thought-out decisions and carefully made plans.
However, not all worry is so productive. When worry becomes overwhelming for our psyche and emotions it can quickly become debilitating and negative. If you have been experiencing worry in an uncontrollable and excessive way for an extended period of time, there is a good chance that the worry has transformed into anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the clinical name given to this excessive worry. It is a way of labeling the condition many people find themself in when worry has become a more permanent and irrational part of their life.
Anxiety: An Overview
As a form of unease and a feeling of disorder, anxiety comes in many shapes and forms. Medical terminology recognizes a growing number of anxiety disorders, and it is a sign of the times that many of them are now well known in the collective language.
It wasn’t long ago that terms such as OCD and PTSD were unknown to the general public. Nowadays, these anxieties, along with panic attacks and social anxiety disorder have become normal topics for the hashtag generation.
Anxiety can settle in over a period of years, and most sufferers feel they have lived with excessive worry for a large portion of their adult life. The causes are diverse and unpredictable but certain overarching themes, such as an intolerance for uncertainty, tend to be present for most anxious people.
The result for sufferers is a collective occupational, social, and physical impairment, all leading to growing distress. People with anxiety often struggle at work, with their friends and family, and even getting to sleep at night. Eventually, the need to treat and maintain this condition becomes essential.
Anxiety: The Treatments
The good news is that there are numerous positive responses available in the treatment of anxiety. Some of them are long term, some more immediate, each of them targets the condition in a different way.
As you might expect, the responses to anxiety are a mixture of psychological and physiological. Generally speaking, a mixture of both is ideal when coming up with a plan to cope with anxiety.
Short Term Responses
#1. Write About It
This is a method for getting your thoughts out of your head and possibly giving you an objective perspective. It may help to diminish the worries you are having. If you’re worried someone will read your words, you can always dispose of the document afterward.
#2. Concentrate on Your Breathing
This is a method that has to be practiced a little but can easily be learned. The idea is to slow down your heart rate which is often the physical accompaniment to anxiety. To start out, try breathing in for 4 beats and out for 4 beats. 5 minutes of this should even out your breathing and calm the heart. There are many more breathing techniques available online, or just try and develop them yourself. Remember, if you can calm your heart down, you can calm your anxiety!
#3. Question Your Thoughts
It is very easy to either forget or simply not notice when your thinking has become negative. By watching and questioning your thoughts you have a chance to reverse a negative train of thought. It is not always easy, somethings just seem fundamentally negative. However, realizing that you are thinking negatively and that it is possible to think positively can make a difference.
Physical activity works as both a long and short term solution to anxiety. Bringing your body’s activity in line with the activity of your mind will help you balance. From there you can begin to calm your body and your mind together and enjoy the endorphin rush that exercise brings.
Certain aromas have calming and soothing properties which create a sense of tranquility when they are in the air. There are many new humidifiers and scented candles available to help you set a relaxing and soothing mood within your house, office or wherever you are staying. Lavender, Chamomile, and Sandalwood are just a few options that are available.
Long Term Responses
#1. Implement a Daily Routine
Anxiety is a very pervasive and insidious disorder. What does that mean? It means it can catch you unaware and at any time of the day. For that reason, the best thing you can do to work with anxiety is to implement a calming routine into your daily life. Good habits must be formed in order to create a lasting change, and habits are formed through daily repetition. It can be meditation, yoga, mindfulness, or all of these together. Create a special time for you to change the anxious patterns in your thinking and breathing.
#2. Talk With A Medical Practitioner About Medication
There are a variety of medications available should a doctor consider your anxiety to be extreme enough. It will depend on your symptoms, but certain cases do warrant a form of medication to be taken in order to create the balance needed to heal. Long term medication is not the ideal scenario and most medical professionals will create a tapering plan to reduce the medication for the long term.
#3. Get CBT Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is one of the most effective psychological responses to anxiety. The general aim is to help the sufferer learn different ways to think about and respond to anxiety. As they learn how to spot anxiety arriving, and watch out for common triggers, they are able to work through a situation without it becoming so intense.
#4. Identify and Manage Triggers
One of the most helpful instructions to come out of CBT is the ability to spot anxiety-causing triggers. Sometimes triggers are blatantly obvious, however, many of them are hard for the sufferer to notice due to them living with the problem. For this reason, meeting a professional therapist is well advised. Some common triggers for anxiety sufferers include:
|Chronic illnesses |
Stress at work
#5. Supplements & Diet
There are certain nutrients and supplements that have been clinically proven to reduce anxiety. This is a long term solution that doesn’t bare obvious or immediate returns so it requires a lot of discipline. However, done right a dietary change can help a person calm down.
Some anxiety-reducing foods include:
- green tea
- lemon balm
- valerian root
- kava kava
- dark chocolate
- omega-3 fatty acids
Anxiety comes in all shapes and forms and to many degrees. That is to say, some forms of anxiety are more serious than others. Whatever the case, it is never a bad idea to seek a professional opinion if you are struggling with anxiety. In some cases, it might be vital.
A medical assessment is widely considered the best step forward when creating a plan for how to deal with anxiety. From there on in it is the sufferer’s choice to find a blend of treatments that work for them.
A blend of physical, medical, and psychological therapies can improve even the most serious cases of anxiety. The challenge is to find the correct mix and the best way to do that is to seek professional help.