How to Cope with Anxiety

Do you know that every person in this huge world feels anxiety once in a while? Yes, that is right. Anxiety is a very common problem. And every 1 in 4 adults suffers from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. It may sound strange, but anxiety is a natural response of the human body in case of any threat or danger.
It's all about perception. Instead of realizing they have anxiety, many people think that there is something wrong with them. They are usually preoccupied with their bodily symptoms caused by anxiety (e.g., increased heart rate, stomach aches, restlessness, or shortness of breath.) and many think that there is something physically wrong with them (e.g,, think that they are having a heart attack). Others suppose they're weird or even going crazy. These types of thoughts only worsen the condition.
Anxiety is inevitable while you're dealing with different challenges of life. To cope with that anxiety, you need to understand and recognize its signs and symptoms. Because when you don't know what you are dealing with, how can you manage it? So stay tuned, as this article is all about dealing with anxiety.

How Anxiety Affects You

There are three primary ways in which anxiety affects you: the way you think (cognitive), the way you behave or act in that certain situation (behavioral), and the way your body responds to it (physical). Physical reactions can include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or trembling, sweating, freezing, muscle tension, or nausea.
By understanding the symptoms, you will be able to take appropriate steps to overcome anxiety. For instance, when you're preparing for an important exam, you might feel nervous about doing your best (cognitive), feel a headache or stomach ache (physical), and, as a result, avoid preparing for the exam which leads to cram at the last moment (behavioral). It is important to recognize your physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms in anxious situations to bring them down to a manageable level.

When is Anxiety Normal?

Anxiety is a normal human experience. All of us experience it once in a while, e.g., before a job interview or exam. In most circumstances, anxiety is situation specific and tends to abate when the event ends. At times, however, anxiety can become disruptive and make it difficult to function.
In some ways, anxiety is like a fire alarm system. A fire alarm can help you be aware of actual danger. But if a fire alarm is just too sensitive and goes off when there is no actual fire, it is rather irritating. Like a fire alarm, anxiety is useful when it works right. But, if it goes off when there's no actual danger, it is not only scary but also annoying and exhausting.
When anxiety or fear lasts longer and becomes overwhelming enough to disrupt your life functioning, this may be the sign of having an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can make your life distressful. it makes it difficult to manage your daily life, study, work, and other social activities. So, when you feel it exceeds a manageable level, you may need to seek help.

10 Ways to Cope with Your Anxiety:

Everyone manages their anxiety differently according to their signs and symptoms. But some techniques work for all. Here are some techniques which can help you deal with your anxiety.
  1. Challenge Your Anxious Thoughts:
First of all, it's important to analyze your thoughts whether they are self-created or a reality? Most of the time, people feel anxious without any rational reason to be worried about. For example, when you feel anxious because you worry about "What people think about me?", that is a self-created worry. To overcome this type of thought, you need to recognize that your thought is self-created and may not be accurate. Replace your anxious thought with a positive alternative thought. It will help you to see a situation from a different perspective and will also help you find a solution.
  1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
Changes that occur in your body when you persistently remain anxious also include muscle tension. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a highly recommended relaxation technique to overcome your bodily symptoms of anxiety. In PMR, you need to tense your muscles first and then relax them one by one. You feel the tension gradually getting out of your muscles. Some general steps of PMR include:
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Gently tense each muscle group from head to toe
  • Hold them tight for about 5 seconds.
  • Slowly relax your muscles for about 1 minute.
  • Repeat this 3 times.
  • And sequentially move to the next muscle group.
  1. Deep Breathing:
When we become anxious, we automatically hold or restrict our breathing. As a result, our body tenses and prepares for action.  So, it follows then that the first thing to do when you experience anxiety is to calm down. A place to start to calm down is to remember to just breathe!
When you feel anxious, try this simple yet effective technique. From the depth of your stomach, inhale through your nose for a few seconds and hold your breath. Then exhale through the mouth. While doing this, focus on your breath. Do it 5 to 7 times and see the magic. Make a habit to practice it 3 to 5 times a day, or when you feel physical symptoms of anxiety, e.g. increased heartbeat, panting, etc. 
  1. Limit the Amount of Time You Give to Worries:
Worries can consume your every waking moment if you allow it. Limit the amount of time you allow yourself to worry. Set aside time to journal and put your worries to paper. Then set the worries aside and engage in activities in the moment that you have control over.
  1. Use the 3-3-3 rule:
Whenever you feel your brain racing 100 miles per hour with anxiety, this technique can help you to bring your mind to a normal pace. Bring your attention to the moment and
  • Name any three things you find,
  • Name three sounds you hear,
  • Move any three parts of your body -- your fingers, arm, or ankles, etc.
It will help you to bring your mind back in place to think productively about your concern.
  1. Identify your Triggers:
Triggers can be different for everybody. Things that seem anxiety-provoking to you might not be worrying for others. For instance, you may get triggered by noises while someone else may experience anxiety in crowded places. It can be helpful to make a daily record of your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to understand the pattern of your worries. When you get to know your triggers, you can work on managing them.
  1. Plan Well, Worry Less:
Planning and worrying are two different things. A good plan doesn't need a constant re-check for assurance. When you keep worrying about one thing that you have planned already, it's called rumination. You need to consider the fundamentals of planning so that it could help to calm your ruminative mind. These fundamentals include:
  • Identify the problem properly
  • Consider possible problem-solving options
  • Choose one of the options
  • Write up a plan to work on it and stick to the plan rather than worrying.
  1. Distract yourself:
Sometimes, distracting your mind is the most effective strategy to get rid of anxious thoughts. In the beginning, you might feel it's not working but you'll need the practice to make it work. Try to divert your mind to stop ruminating about anything. Listening to music, talking to a friend, watching a movie, meditation, painting, etc can be helpful.
  1. Focus on your Physical Health:
A healthy diet, proper sleep, and daily exercise can keep your body and mind in good shape. Exercise has lots of benefits for your body, including reducing anxiety. When you exercise daily, it produces hormonal changes that affect your mood.

A good diet is important for your body as fuel. If you provide your body its essential nutrients, then it functions properly. Similarly, sleeping for 7- 9 hours is necessary for your body's functioning. It heals your body when you sleep at night.
  1. Talk to Someone:
Sometimes, anxious people start thinking that they are alone in their experience, which is not the reality. You need to talk to someone when you feel anxious. You can share your experience with others. Connecting with people can help you find new ways to cope with your anxiety. Calling a friend, or a family member can make you feel better.
  1. Keep a Positive Attitude:
Many people in this world have quite an experience in dealing with anxiety. So never lose hope of living a better life. Even people with severe anxiety disorders can live a carefree and joyful life after learning to cope with it. But the key is to keep a positive approach towards anxiety and your life circumstances. You just need to learn which techniques are effective for you. Connect with people, share your experiences, learn from them and find inspiration from nature around you.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is struggling with severe anxiety, New Dimensions can help.  Our Online Intensive Treatment Programs are available to adults and adolescents who reside within the State of Texas, including Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock, Houston, College Station, Corpus Christi, Laredo, El Paso, Dallas, and Fort Worth.  We also offer in-person treatment at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston.  To learn more about our services, visit our website at or contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

22 December, 2020

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