Anxiety is a common mental health issue that can greatly impact a person's quality of life. It can lead to feelings of worry, fear, and unease, making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to manage anxiety and improve overall well-being.
In this blog, we will explore five evidence-based strategies for dealing with anxiety. By incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, you can reduce anxiety symptoms and lead a more fulfilling life. Whether you're experiencing mild or severe anxiety, these tips can help you take control of your mental health and achieve greater peace of mind.
The Truth About Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural part of our life and not something we can or should completely rid ourselves of. In fact, stress can be a good thing when we learn how to harness its energy properly.
The purpose of stress is to motivate us into action. It is a natural reaction to perceived changes in the environment that may threaten our overall sense of security.
When we experience the proper amount of anxiety it heightens our awareness, gives us physical strength, and sharpens our thoughts. However, when it gets out of control, it can wreak havoc on our abilities to respond appropriately. This often leads to us shutting down or running away to avoid our anxious feelings.
Keeping your anxiety in check comes down to some basic skills that anyone can learn.
1. Deal with Anxiety by Reframing Your Appraisal of the Situation
f you want to keep your stress in check, then notice how you are appraising the situation. In other words, what word(s) are you using to describe what you're going through at the moment?
For example, people who deal with their stress more productively view their problems as challenges while less successful people see them as threats.
If you see your problem as a threat, then you’re telling yourself that if you don’t succeed in dealing with this, your life as you know it will be in danger. Simply put, you are telling yourself that this is a life-or-death situation. As a result of this extreme interpretation, your nervous system is supplying you with more than enough energy to help you run or fight for your life.
The problem with this is that we are hardly ever in a life-threatening emergency. In fact, most of our anxiety is produced when we are thinking about our problems, and not actually dealing with them. To the brain, however, this doesn’t matter because the nervous system that regulates our fight or flight response can’t tell the difference between what we imagine to be true and what is true.
Successfully dealing with stress begins with stepping back and carefully evaluating the situation as a challenge instead of a threat. In doing so, you start to realize that your problem is not a matter of life or death, and whatever it is you are dealing with, you can handle it.
A challenge is something we can rise up and conquer. By seeing your problems as challenges, you are affirming that by being persistent, you can deal with them effectively. A challenge is not life-threatening, but rather a game and a time to dig deep into your bag of tricks and discover a workable solution.
2. Breathe Properly to Effectively Deal with Anxiety
Experiencing anxiety causes our breathing to become rapid and shallow. This type of breathing limits the amount of oxygen getting to our brains which leads us to unconsciously believe we are suffocating. As a result, this leads us to panic even more, reinforcing the belief that we are being attacked.
The trick to using our breathing to relax is to take longer to exhale than to inhale. To accomplish this, inhale using 2 quick breaths and then exhale slowly. The reason this is so effective, and it is, is because when you are exhaling your diaphragm temporarily shrinks giving your heart room to expand. The cool thing here is it also communicates an opposite message to your brain that instead of suffocating, you are in control and everything is fine.
3. Relieve Your Anxiety by Telling Yourself, “I make myself calm.”
A few years back I started experiencing anxiety quite often, and for no real reason. At this point, I began searching for an effective way to deal with it. I tried many different solutions. I found that silently repeating the words, “I make myself calm,” as I slowly exhaled a big breath of fresh air worked better than anything else I had discovered.
Several times throughout the day I would practice breathing and silently repeating those words to myself over and over again. The results were incredible. Within two weeks I was no longer experiencing unnecessary anxiety. As a bonus, I am now able to do this once and immediately begin to reap its relaxing benefits.
The trick with this one is to breathe out slowly and thoroughly while thinking the words with a calm and relaxing voice. I think the words, “I make myself” as I inhale and “calm” as I slowly exhale.
4. Ask Yourself, “What problem do I have at this very moment?”
Most of the time, our problems are really us anticipating an adverse outcome to something that may or may not happen in the future. By asking yourself if you have any real problems right now, you are able to redirect your thoughts to the current moment where you are presently safe.
If you do have a problem right now, then deal with it. But if it is one you are anticipating, keep your mind in the present moment, see it as a challenge you can rise above, and breathe properly while telling yourself, “I make myself calm.” And move on to step five.
5. Create a Plan of Action
Not dealing with the source of your anxiety will only prolong and strengthen your stress. Instead of avoiding your problems, decide what you can do about them and get into action. You might be nervous at first, but I promise you, doing something about it empowers you and always leaves you feeling a little better.
I believe that one of the main problems that people with anxiety are facing today is the simple fact that we are not facing our problems. Instead, we are shying away from anything and anyone that causes us to feel discomfort.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And in most cases this is true.
We are not courageous because we lack fear, we are courageous because we are fearful and we are facing that fear. Without fear, there is no need for courage.
Make the decision to conquer your fears. Create an action plan and get moving. Remember, it is nothing more than a challenge that you can handle.