by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 29th August, 2018
Anxiety is something most people experience at some point or another, but for those with an anxiety disorder it can become a thing that consumes their entire identity. It can leave sufferers afraid of things that most would find to be everyday tasks or inconveniences at most.
In order to get a handle on the problems anxiety it can cause, it's important to understand what it is, where it comes from and be armed with tools to fight it. To help you with this, we're going to take a brief look into anxiety and provide some key tips for keeping it at bay.
Anxiety is intense, persistent fear. It turns inconvenient situations into those that can feel like life or death. In some cases, it can come on without any warning, for seemingly no reason at all. In other cases, there may be specific triggers like socialization, phone calls or other tasks.
The source of anxiety can vary depending on the individual. It can be due to brain chemistry, experiences growing up and similar aspects. Sometimes, a single traumatic event can start it while in other times it can come from the build up of smaller experiences.
Imagine that you're going to do a task. For example, let's say you need to make a phone call to your insurance company. Few people enjoy this task. For most, it's an inconvenience or annoyance. However, imagine that just the thought of making that call invokes a fight or flight response.
Situations like these can be extremely difficult, as in most cases people with anxiety realize that the fear response isn't equal to the task they need to take on. However, the tricky thing about anxiety is it has a tendency to ignore what we know logically, for the sake of creating more fear.
While it may sometimes seem all-consuming, there are ways to fight back against anxiety. Arm yourself with these tips, and you'll be able to make improvements over time to avoid the pitfalls it can bring. Make sure to use the regularly, and focus on those that effect you most.
Sometimes, you just need a break. For those with anxiety, the onset of an anxiety or panic attack can be a sign that they need to slow down and take a break. It can also show that you need to take smaller steps in whatever the task or activity might be.
When you're feeling extremely anxious, it's important to meet that with care. The source of the anxiety needs to be addressed before you can continue on well. However, if you calm down, clear your head and bring yourself back together, you may find growth to be easier.
Keeping your body in balance is important for keeping anxiety from becoming overwhelming. When we consume too many unhealthy things, like sugar, we can tend to fall to it more easily or become irritable. Simply put, it throws off not only our bodies, but our moods.
In addition to healthy food, plenty of water is also key. It's one of the healthiest things you can consume, and can go a long way to keep you feeling great. Both of these aspects fall into the self care realm, which many can forget in the wake of extreme anxiety.
Another important factor is sleep. Adults require at least 7 solid hours of sleep a night in order to function well. Many of us are aware what happens when we don't get enough. If you have trouble with getting to sleep or staying a sleep, you may need to add in some extra self care to sleep.
A soothing evening tea can help you with getting to sleep, or a warm cup of milk. Putting away electronics and engaging in quiet, soothing activities can be useful in getting to sleep. If you're still struggling, a doctor can help to address issues.
Anxiety is well-known for the negative thoughts that can come at us, wave after wave. They can range from death-levels of fear to those that leave you feeling worse about yourself. Unfortunately, not all of us realize that these thoughts are contributing to the problem.
When you notice compounded negative self-talk, rumination or similar thoughts, it's important to address them fiercely. Making a conscious effort to correct negative thinking can go a long way. It isn't an easy task, but it's one that can leave you feeling much better in the long run.
Limiting the unhealthy things you consume can be just as important as making an effort to consume healthy things. These can include alcohol, caffeine, and substances that may be used as a means of self-medication. While these things might seem to improve anxiety in the short term, they can produce even worse effects in the long term.
When it comes to more normalized substances like caffeine and alcohol, it can mean just limiting how much you consume. You may not need to necessarily cut them out entirely. This can really depend on your unique situation, so if you aren't sure then it helps to consult a professional.
Anxiety can sometimes feel like an excess of energy. The energy builds up and causes a struggle for you because it has nowhere else to go. Because of this, exercise can help a lot when it comes to directing that energy into a positive activity.
On top of that, the endorphines created by physical activity can allow you to feel better overall. In the long term, exercise really improves your mind and body. You can do just about anything, as long as it gets you moving on a regular basis. Explore and find something you like to do!
A key feature of anxiety for many people is rumination. This is the inability to release a thought, whether you want to or not. This can often be "What if," kind of thinking that leads to a heightened level of fear.
Most of the time, this fear isn't warranted. Typically, it comes from worrying about something that hasn't actually happened. While this might seem silly to those who don't experience anxiety on this level, it's something that those with anxiety disorders struggle to do away with. It repeats itself, or finds ways to leak into a person's thinking when they are tired or stressed.
In some cases, the fears of anxiety can cause people to isolate themselves. This can be particularly true with social anxiety. When it's scary to be around people, it can feel natural to cease being around them. However, this often doesn't help the feelings of anxiety overall and can sometimes make them worse.
Because being around others isn't inherently dangerous, it's a fear that is worth fighting. As we spend more time around people, we build up a resistance to that fear. On the other hand, staying away from people can make it more difficult when we need to be around them.
As you go about your day-to-day life, it's wise to think about the things that provoke anxiety in you. Does it make you anxious when you have to make a phone call? When you're around others? When you need to go get groceries?
Knowing what triggers your fear can help you to determine whether it's something you should avoid, find a way around or face head-on. It can also help a therapist to determine the best ways to treat your specific anxious feelings. Keeping a journal of these triggers can be immensely helpful.
This is one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with anxiety. Reaching out can be a scary concept, but it can also be one that helps a lot. Reaching out to friends, family, support groups or a therapist can show you that there is more to the world than the immense feelings the anxiety can create.
That said, you can take baby steps. Try talking to a close friend or family member, and gradually move outward until you feel prepared to seek out professional help. Don't expect to make big leaps right away, as that can be a trigger for anxious feelings that will cause the situation to backfire.
Overall, anxiety can be troubling in a wide variety of ways. However, there are also plenty of things you can do to help yourself gain relief. Self care is very important when it comes to keeping anxiety from overwhelming and controlling you.
When you're ready, reaching out to people around you can bring a lot of comfort. Whatever you decide to do with regard to your anxiety, make sure it's on your own terms and time frame. Moving quickly isn't nearly as important as making progress that will last throughout your lifetime.