Anxiety affects men and women of all ages from all different walks of life. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can be debilitating, affecting a person’s ability to work and engage in many day-to-day activities. It can often be undiagnosed, and the person may be unaware that he or she is suffering from anxiety. Symptoms can range from physical: Shortness of breath, pounding heart, even chest pain, to emotional: fear, worry, irritability. Once identified, anxiety is treatable. There are many techniques that can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, both with medication and without. Here are three ways to deal with those anxious feelings:
BE AWARE OF TRIGGERS
Knowing what triggers anxious feelings is a very helpful step in coping with anxiety. Triggers vary from person to person. Knowing triggers can help avoid situations that cause anxiety, or help to face those situations in a manner that can help minimize symptoms and eventually even stop them altogether.
Identifying a trigger helps the person feel that they have greater control over their anxiety. For example, a common trigger is a party full of strangers. If that is a known trigger, it can either be avoided, or the person can take steps to minimize anxious feelings by bringing a support person, making a plan for exit if symptoms occur, or using tools that help combat anxious feelings such as deep breathing and positive self-talk.
Not knowing what triggers anxiety increases feelings of helplessness and lack of control, which leads to more anxiety. One way to identify triggers is to keep a journal of daily activities and track symptoms when they occur.
Anxiety increases when people neglect self-care. Much of self-care is very basic, such as getting adequate sleep, eating regularly and exercise. It is surprising how much those things can impact the symptoms of anxiety. Other ways to practice self-care can include developing a support system and doing things that feel good, such as journaling, meditating and talking to a therapist. Avoiding negative people and situations, learning to say no, and recognizing triggers are also good ways to practice self-care.
MAKE A PLAN
Once triggers have been identified, it is a good idea to make a plan for dealing with anxious feelings and situations. Create a plan for dealing with known triggers, as well as unexpected situations that may trigger symptoms. For example, make a plan for dealing with social situations that may trigger anxiety. Knowing that a plan is in place can actually reduce the likelihood of anxiety, because it creates a feeling of safety. Using a party as an example, part of the plan may include bringing a support person who is familiar with anxiety symptoms and can provide reassurance and a safe way home can create a sense of security that may help keep anxious feelings at bay.
Keeping a list of tools handy can be a part of the plan. These can serve as reminders when anxiety strikes. The phone numbers of supportive friends are a good thing to have at all times. Reminders to use tools such as deep breathing, taking a walk, or listening to relaxing music are all good ways to develop a plan. When anxious feelings occur, knowing that there is a plan in place can truly help symptoms from becoming overwhelming.
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