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Tips for Understanding and Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, with 18.1% of the U.S. adult population over the age of 18 experiencing it.1
Between family and job responsibilities, many Americans feel stressed and anxious about being able to complete everything that they need to during the day. While it’s normal to feel stressed out before a test, job interview, or big event, anxiety disorder occurs when an individual feels anxious for a prolonged period of time.
Here’s how anxiety affects your body and some tips on coping with this mental disorder.
What is Anxiety?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder occurs when someone feels worried or stressed for a prolonged period of time (usually 6 months) about their everyday life. Anxiety can be at the center of their life and affect areas such as school, work, and relationships.2
Anxiety becomes a disorder when it gets in the way of relationships with family members, friends, and coworkers. Anxiety also interferes with daily activities, and someone who has anxiety will have episodes of sudden fear. Individuals with anxiety will oftentimes avoid people, places, and situations that trigger it.
Some symptoms of anxiety include:3
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heartrate
- Continuous restlessness, nervousness, and tenseness
- Avoiding things and situations that trigger anxiety
- Heavy sweat
- Doing certain behaviors over and over again
- Anxiety from event that happened in the past (PTSD)
- Chest pains
- Tightness in chest
There are many different types and variations of anxiety. A few different types of anxiety are:
- Panic disorder: Panic disorder is when an individual feels fear or danger when there is none. These episodes can happen sporadically and cause the individual to feel as if they are not in control. These episodes can happen anywhere without warning.4
- Agoraphobia: An anxiety disorder that causes someone to avoid places or situations because they feel trapped or helpless. This includes things such as being stuck in an enclosed space or using public transportation. People who have agoraphobia usually do not go to public places or crowds.5
- Selective Mutism. This is when a child can speak comfortably in certain settings but not in others. An example would be a child having a hard time speaking at school, but is fine at home.6
Because there are various levels and differences in anxiety, consult with your doctor if you believe that you might have it. Your doctor will be able to work with you to understand the type of anxiety you have and how you can start overcoming it.
4 Ways to Help Deal with Anxiety
Anxiety can be a challenge because it can come at any time and without warning, but there are steps that you can take to help reduce anxiety and its effects. If anxiety goes untreated, it can lead to other issues such as depression and cardiovascular problems.
Here are 4 ways you can start coping with anxiety and working to overcome your fears.
Learn to Understand Your Fears
One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is learning to understand what makes you anxious. Is it a particular fear, such as heights? Or maybe you’re not quite sure but you know that certain places or people will cause anxiety.
Understanding your fears can help you work through them and allow you to take more control over your life. A few ways you can work to understand your anxiety include:
- Journaling. Journaling is a great activity to help you understand the trends in your anxiety. Write down your thoughts and what bothers you each night. Over time, you’ll have a log of items that you can use to learn more about your anxiety.
- Understand How You Plan Your Day. Do you plan your day in the morning where you avoid certain places or things that cause anxiety? If so, sit down and think about the reason. This can be the first step to learning about your anxiety and overcoming it.
- Know what calms you down. When you experience anxiety, you might feel like you’re helpless and unable to control your life. Knowing what calms you down can help you mitigate the effects of anxiety when you experience it.
Know what causes your anxiety to start taking control of your life today.
Exercise is a great way to help reduce anxiety and focus your mind on something productive. There are links between exercise and the positive effects it has on reducing anxiety and depression.
One way exercise helps alleviate anxiety is it promotes the creation of endorphins, which are brain chemicals that affect our mood. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the body that can help relax the muscles and diminish our perception of pain.7
There are also different types of exercises that focus on the connection between our mind and body. Two exercises that are relaxing and can help you cope with anxiety include:
- Yoga is a popular form of exercise for individuals with anxiety. There are yoga classes that focus on breathing techniques that help reduce anxiety and stress. Yoga also promotes relaxation and understanding the connection between the mind and body.
- Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a Chinese self-defense martial art that involves combining meditation with breathing techniques. There are many different styles and variations, but Tai Chi focuses on doing a series of slow movements with deep breathing. Tai Chi is low impact on the muscles and is generally safe for people of all ages to practice.8
Refocus on a Hobby
Another way to try to minimize your anxiety is to refocus your attention on a hobby. Oftentimes, anxiety can come when you are alone with your own thoughts or don’t have something to focus on other than your worries.
A new hobby can help you take your mind off of your fears and help you relax in your free time. Hobbies can also give you the opportunity to meet new people and cultivate talents you didn’t know you had before.
Some hobbies that are engaging and fun include:
- Learning to draw, paint, or color
- Playing an instrument
- Sewing or knitting
- Creating crafts
- Learning to speak a new language
- Experimenting with new recipes
You can start a new hobby on your own or find a group of people who meet each week for something you’re interested in.
If you find that your anxiety is getting in the way of your relationships and everyday life, you might want to consider going to a counselor who can help you work through your fears.
Counselors can help clients who have anxiety by using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques to help improve their daily life. CBT involves changing thinking patterns, such as helping someone understand the thought patterns of others or using problem-solving skills to deal with difficult situations.9
Counselors also help people face their anxiety through exposure therapy, which is when a counselor exposes someone to their fears and works to gradually change their behavior. An example of exposure therapy would be if someone is afraid of dogs, a counselor would expose their client to dogs and help them work through gaining a sense of control.10
A counselor is a great resource for discussing how anxiety affects your relationships with people. Counselors are experts at helping people rebuild their connections to others and pointing out how to solve social problems.
Counseling is also easy to work into your week. You can choose to meet with a counselor before or after work and pick a day of the week that works best for you.
Consider going to a counselor if you are looking to work through your anxiety.
Learn to Cope with Anxiety to Live a Happier, More Fulfilling Life!
Anxiety isn’t easy to deal with, but it is important to learn and understand how to cope with it.
Here at Saber Healthcare, we help our residents work through their challenges to help them reach their goals. Click here to learn more about our company and the services we provide.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety & Depression Association of America, adaa.org. Last Updated April 21st, 2021. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
- “Anxiety Disorders.” National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov. Last Updated July 2018. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/
- Cirino, Erica. Legg, Timothy J. “Everything You Need to Know About Anxiety.” Red Ventures, Healthline Media. September 16th, 2018. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety-symptoms
- “Panic Disorder.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. Last updated April 4th, 2016. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://medlineplus.gov/panicdisorder.html
- “Agoraphobia.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, mayoclinc.com. November 18th, 2017. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/agoraphobia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355987
- “Selective Mutism.” Cedars-Sinai, cedars-sinai.org. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions---pediatrics/s/selective-mutism.html
- Bhandari, Smitha, ed. “Exercise and Depression.” WebMD, webmd LLC. 2020. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
- “Tai Chi: A Gentle Way to Fight Stress.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, mayoclinic.com. Published February 26th, 2021. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/tai-chi/art-20045184
- “What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?” American Psychological Association, Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Published July 2017. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
- “Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.” HelpGuide, helpguide.org. Published September 2020. Accessed June 22nd, 2021. Link: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/therapy-for-anxiety-disorders.htm#