This is a guest post by Jennifer Scott of SpiritFinder.org.
When anxiety strikes, you may think that no one else understands what it’s like to live inside your skin. However, many people suffer from anxiety. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, over 40 million adults in the U.S. have some form of anxiety. Are you one of them?
Since anxiety can arise after a life-changing event such as abuse or victimization, it can coincide with addiction, depression, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts. These are serious conditions, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Seek out a support group or therapist who can help you find healthy ways to cope with your feelings.
Plus, there are small things you can do each day to help minimize feelings of anxiety.
The first step is to ask yourself if there is truly an issue or if you are worrying without having all the facts.
You may begin thinking about a particular topic and feel anxiety setting in. Soon you are worrying about it and feeding the worry with anxious thoughts. After a time, you’re unable to even remember why you fixated upon it!
When this happens, take a step back.
Count your breaths and focus on evening out your breathing.
Remind yourself that you cannot take responsibility for everything, nor can you control everything.
Realizing that you are not always in control can be frightening, but also liberating.
Here are a few practical tips and coping strategies for managing the symptoms of anxiety.
- Take care of yourself - physically
- Spend time with animals
- Limit stimulants
- Practice mindfulness
Take care of yourself physically
Self-care means different things to different people, but the essential basics include getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising daily.
Getting in a workout - especially outdoors - can help boost your mood and give you a sense of accomplishment. Exercising during the day can also help you to fall asleep at night.
Eating right is also important. If you eat a well-balanced diet and drink enough water, you can help keep your metabolism level and aid with brain function too.
Spend time with animals
Spending time with animals - particularly dogs and horses - has been proven to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. If you can’t have pets, consider volunteering at an animal shelter or local farm. (Or come to The Clearing, where we have horses, sheep, llamas, alpacas, cats, and guinea hens!)
Caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, and substances may seem like good ways to keep your anxiety at bay, but in reality they only exacerbate symptoms.
Stimulants give you an amped-up feeling and they interfere with sleep as well.
If you want to decrease your anxiety level, stick to water or decaf coffee and tea and limit your sugar intake.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness; among most popular are yoga and meditation.
In mindfulness, you focus on the present moment rather than the future. Doing so can help you learn to control your anxiety as you train your brain to think in new ways.
Anxiety can be overwhelming at times, but you can manage it by taking care of yourself and learning healthy ways to cope.
Editor’s Note: This post focuses on physical-level coping strategies to lessen anxiety. Physical-level strategies are a great starting point, yet it’s also important to zoom out and take a broader, holistic view of anxiety in order to heal fully.
Rather than simply calming yourself down, you want to take a look at why you're feeling so anxious in the first place.
Anxiety is an internal push-and-pull that happens when you try to avoid feeling a so-called unacceptable emotion such as anger or grief. It’s the result of putting up walls in an attempt to avoid feeling hurt.
When there is deep conflict between your real feelings and your socialized beliefs, you feel unsettled, ungrounded, and very anxious.
Lessening your anxiety over the long-term means examining your judgments and limiting beliefs and giving your true feelings a voice.
For a more in-depth discussion of the nature of anxiety, anxiety and addiction, and how to heal the underlying core issues that drive it, check out our posts on the connection between anxiety and addiction and understanding anger and addiction (video).
To learn more, download our free eBook, Healing Your Underlying Core Issues.
Photo by Flachovatereza