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Coping with Anxiety.

Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress and fear, yet can get out of hand and can cause you to feel constantly on edge. What causes anxiety can be highly complicated and is caused by a number of factors such as genetics and environmental reasons. It’s clear that your anxiety could be caused by events, emotions, or experiences that start your symptoms of anxiety or begin to make them worse, these are called triggers.

Anxiety can be triggered by various means such as being confronted with a stressful situation or an overwhelming task/event such as giving presentations, meeting new people or large social events, financial concerns, negative thoughts, and dealing with conflict. There are many other triggers so you’ll need to find out what is triggering your anxiety so you can identify it early on, this may take some time and self-reflection but there are things you can do to help calm yourself and prevent your anxiety from building into stress or panic attacks.

Dealing with anxiety can be very difficult to cope with, especially when your anxiety is sporadic and is getting in the way of your ability to focus and complete simple tasks. Anxiety can cause extreme physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, feeling faint, and panic attacks. These symptoms can be hard to cope with at times and can be very overwhelming, however, there are certain techniques you can employ that will help calm your mind and prevent your anxiety from taking control. Below are some quick techniques that can help ease your anxiety and help you take control of your stress whenever you feel anxiety start to develop.

1: Practice deep, focused breathing. Work in breathing in for four counts and breathing out for four counts for a total of five minutes or imagine a square with a circle in each corner, when you breathe in, fill in the circle and as you breathe out move on toward the next circle. Using breathing and mindfulness techniques help to slow your heart rate which in turn helps to calm yourself down. Other breathing techniques include the 4-7-8 breathing pattern, the 7-11 breathing pattern, alternate nostril breathing, and guided imagery.

2: Questions your negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can build up and distort the severity of the situation at hand while avoiding your fears will only make them worse. If you start to question your thoughts and challenge your thoughts you can ask yourself if these thoughts are rational and true. You can then see where you can take back control.

3: Write down what is making you anxious. Writing down what makes you anxious can help get it out of your head and makes the situation less daunting. This technique is particularly helpful for people who experience anxiety sporadically but can also be helpful for those who have generalised anxiety disorder. When writing down what is making you anxious it is a good idea to question your thoughts also and think rationally about your situation and look at the evidence that disproves your reasoning for being anxious.

4: Visualise a happy place. Take a few moments to visualise a calming place of safety. Close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere that makes you feel secure and happy. This could be walking around your favourite destination or a happy memory from childhood. This technique will take your mind off of what is stressing you out and when used alongside some breathing techniques can rapidly calm you down.

5: Distract your mind by being active. One of the best ways to prevent anxiety from taking over is to walk away from the situation completely. Take some time out by focusing on your body and not your mind, this could be going for a 15-minute walk, working out, or practicing yoga while listening to relaxing music. It is also very helpful to practice deep breathing techniques while being active to get oxygen circulating around your body and flushing out any anxiety that is causing you to stress out.

The techniques listed above are generally short term techniques that stop anxiety from causing panic attacks the moment they start. They will not prevent anxiety in the long term so it is best to try them alongside some longer-term preventative measures that will help you deal with anxiety and get to the roots of the causes that are making you feel stressed out.

Below are some longer-term techniques you should look into.

1: Employ a daily meditation routine. Practicing mindfulness does take some practice to do successfully, but when performed regularly can help train your brain to dismiss anxious and negative thoughts when they start to arise. If you find sitting still and concentrating difficult then you should try starting with yoga or using mindfulness apps available on your phone. This daily routine can help you massively in the long term and is something you can start doing straight away.

2: See a therapist about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) allows you to learn different ways of managing your thoughts and how to properly react to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist will help you develop various ways to challenge your negative thought patterns and behaviours before they spiral into panic attacks.

3: Try supplements or change your diet. What you eat makes more susceptible to anxiety, specific supplements or nutrients can hugely help reduce your anxiety. However, this can take up to 3 months until your body starts to run on the nutrients your new diet consists of, yet is really effective and helps majorly in the long term. Some foods and supplements to try include lemon balm, omega-3 fatty acids, ashwagandha, green tea, valerian root, multivitamins, kava kava, and dark chocolate in moderation. Avoiding caffeine will also help as caffeine can speed up your heart rate and cause anxiety.

4: Keeping your body and mind healthy. Exercising regularly alongside eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and staying connected to the people who love and care about you are excellent ways to keep anxiety at bay. Keeping fit, busy and looking after your body is perfect for preventing anxiety. Staying busy and being healthy is proven to improve your mental health thanks to the endorphins released when exercising and the nutrients you get from eating properly.

5: Ask your doctor about medication. This isn’t always the best way to go, especially considering some anxiety relief medications such as benzodiazepines can cause your anxiety to get worse in the long term even though they offer almost instant relief from anxiety and panic attacks. However, some medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors can help even out the chemicals in your brain and help your body produce more of the happy chemicals that will stop you from feeling constantly anxious. When using medication for your anxiety you should also try to adopt mindfulness meditation or CBT alongside so you can prevent anxiety from coming back once you stop taking the medication. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about this method and get all the information and facts available to you before choosing to take medication for your anxiety. 

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