By Jennifer Scott
Anxiety affects millions of people each year, for many different reasons. Some individuals live with disorders such as PTSD, where anxiety is caused by past events or traumas; others suffer from stress related to social activities. Whatever the reason, it’s important for sufferers to know that they don’t have to go through it alone, and that there are options available for treatment as well as things they can do at home to help ease those feelings.
Because anxiety is often triggered by something-- surroundings, people, a particular situation-- it’s imperative that you pin down the cause of those feelings in order to get a handle on them. You may not always be able to avoid a certain situation or place, so learning how to cope with them beforehand can help you stay calm should that be the case. Here are some of the best ways to handle anxiety and stress.
Knowing how to take care of yourself is important when anxiety and stress become an issue. This includes eating right, practicing daily exercise, and making sure to take time for yourself often. It’s difficult to do this during busy days, especially if you work or have a family, but taking just half an hour to read a book, take a hot bath, or play a quick game of basketball at the park can work wonders for your mood. It’s a good idea to treat yourself every now and then, too; get a massage, have a nice dinner, order a decadent dessert. Find small ways to make yourself happy.
Cut back on substances and caffeine
Drugs, alcohol, and caffeine all exacerbate the effects of stress and anxiety, so even if you feel they’re helping, it’s a good idea to limit these during the day. Not only can it help improve your mood, it will also help when it’s time to get some rest. If you suffer with a substance abuse problem, remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Therapists and counselors are available to help you find healthy ways to cope.
Learn breath control
Stepping back for a moment and focusing on your breathing can be extremely helpful during anxious situations. One of the best ways to learn different techniques for this is to practice yoga. Yoga and meditation are great examples of mindfulness, which train your brain to stay in the present moment and work through it by controlling your breathing. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth, and focus on the feeling. Concentrating on something simple can help you narrow your attention to something manageable, which is often the best way to calm down.
Train your mind
One of the first things you should do when you feel an anxiety attack coming on is to tell yourself that you are experiencing anxiety and that it will pass. Sometimes, strong emotions make it difficult to tell whether there is a legitimate reason to be stressed or anxious. “It just means you would benefit by accepting reality as it is – and in that moment, reality includes anxiety. The bottom line is that the feeling of anxiety is less than ideal, but it is not intolerable,” says Dr. Marla W. Deibler.
Think of a happy place
It may sound silly, but having a “happy place” to think of when you get anxious is always helpful. It can be a favorite spot at the park, your front porch on a cool fall evening, or just your own comfortable bed. Whatever makes you happiest, dedicate it to memory and call it up when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It can help you focus on something other than the anxiety and alleviate some of the symptoms.
About the Author
With SpiritFinder, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.