6 Effective Ways to Help Manage Your Anxiety
We’ve all battled with anxiety at least once in our lives. Especially in times when the global pandemic has caught the whole world off guard.
Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an emotion characterised by feelings of tension, worrying and physical changes like increased heart rate.
If you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, you are familiar with feelings of fear, worry, and other symptoms that any unprecedented events like the pandemic can bring. In some ways, you probably have struggled to manage this disorder, that it felt like the anxiety has taken over you.
It’s completely understandable how anxiety may completely take control of someone’s cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. But oftentimes, people who suffer from the disorder can still take the helm and make a turn.
To do that, there are some things that must be changed and done. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of this disorder, here are only some of the ways that you can do to manage your anxiety:
1. Know Your Triggers
Identifying your own triggers for anxiety can be done with the help of a therapist or on your own. While these triggers can vary depending on the person, there are general triggers that you might have experienced, too. Here are only some of them:
- Stressful work environment
- Phobias like fear of heights, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, et al
The more you know your triggers, the more you can understand why they happen and devise a coping strategy to better manage your anxiety.
2. Pause and Breathe
The next time you experience your triggers, stop and breathe for a second to help regain control of the moment. Taking a few deep breaths will also help you restore your balance. Whenever you find yourself having an anxiety attack, try practicing this simple breathing technique:
Step 1: Sit comfortably on a chair, or a sofa.
Step 2: Close your eyes, then inhale and exhale deeply, in and out of the nose.
Step 3: Do this several times, until you feel calmer and more controlled.
Breathing exercises like this may be simple but they can be effective techniques to relax yourself when having a panic attack.
3. Take Care of Your Mind and Body
How we treat ourselves physically and mentally can affect our well-being. When we don’t complete our sleep cycles, skip meals, and neglect exercise, our body will have to work hard to compensate for the lost sleep and nutrients until we crash eventually.
Our serotonin and dopamine levels which are responsible for our sense of happiness, fluctuate when we don’t eat and sleep right. This basically means that if we don't take care of our bodies, our minds are more susceptible to negative thoughts and are likely to entertain disturbing ideas, which can ultimately lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
To help prevent this, ensure you're taking care of your body, with a diet high in nutrients and minerals. You can also take on a more active lifestyle. Regular physical activity is not only good for your body but also keeps your mind off unnecessary and negative thoughts. Additionally, don’t forget to get enough sleep so you will wake up every morning feeling energised and motivated.
A healthy diet, coupled with regular exercise and proper sleep, will certainly help in managing your anxiety.
4. Write Down Your Thoughts
Writing down everything that makes you feel anxious can be a great way to face your anxiety. It’s best that you keep a journal next to your bed and record how many times you felt anxious that day and the reasons why you felt them. This way you will be able to explore your own thoughts and feelings and hopefully, understand them better.
Once you’ve figured out all the things that bother you and the reasons behind them, you can find a way to manage them if they occur in the future. Talking to a trusted friend is a viable option, too!
5. Finish Any Task
Finishing or completing something, especially if you really love doing it, will give you a sense of accomplishment. No matter how small it is, it might just be the right kind of pat on the shoulder that you need to keep going.
It could be anything under the sun - you could finish reading a book, watching a series, or organising and decluttering your room. Anything that will give a sense of accomplishment. It may take a lot of time and effort, but the result of it could be really rewarding.
It’s understandable if you struggle at first, but the key is not to finish a task as fast as possible. This is not a race. It’s okay to start small and work at your own pace. With patience and time, you’ll definitely crush the task at hand.
6. Be Kind To Yourself
This may sound a little cheesy, but keep in mind that you cannot be defined by your anxiety. Anxiety is not an all-powerful mental health condition - it can be beaten and managed effectively.
There are many ways to understand how anxiety can ruin one’s life - but on the bright side, there are also many steps that you can take if you are suffering. Try to keep management techniques front of mind and make a conscious effort to practice them.
Keep in mind that only you can face and deal with your own anxiety. But also don’t forget that your friends, family, and even your therapist is always there to support you.