Anxiety is a common and sometimes overwhelming struggle. It can affect anyone for a variety of reasons. While it's natural to feel anxious in certain situations, chronic anxiety can be debilitating and can interfere with your daily life. Luckily, there are effective strategies for managing anxiety, which we can delve into below.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural response to stress or perceived threats. It can manifest as feelings of unease, nervousness, or fear. While occasional anxiety is normal, chronic anxiety can negatively affect your mental wellbeing and quality of life.
Recognizing the Signs of Anxiety - Mental and Physical
It’s important to know the signs of your anxiety so you can identify a ‘flare up’. It also helps to be more mindful of what you are feeling and what is going on around you, in order to prevent any setbacks or triggers; and to be educated about your anxiety struggles.
Remember: not everyone may experience all of the below signs of anxiety, and each of these signs can look or manifest differently.
Tension, nervousness, and inability to relax
Sense of dread and fearing the worst
Perception of time distortion (world speeding up or slowing down)
Feeling like others notice your anxiety
Inability to stop worrying, fearing consequences if you do
Anxiety about anxiety itself, including anticipation of panic attacks
Seeking excessive reassurance and worrying about others' feelings
Concerns about losing touch with reality
Experiencing low mood and depression
Persistent rumination on negative experiences
Depersonalization: feeling disconnected from oneself
Derealization: feeling disconnected from the world
Excessive worry about future events and outcomes
How Anxiety Affects Your Body and Mind
Anxiety is interconnected with our body as we go into a fight or flight response. Thus, anxiety has physical symptoms too and is the reason we may experience sudden panic attacks.
Here are some physical symptoms you may experience. Remember: it’s important that we are aware of these symptoms as they give us insight into our anxiety and how we are feeling.
Churning feeling in the stomach
Light-headedness / dizziness
Pins and needles sensation
Headaches, backaches, or other bodily aches
Increased breathing rate
Rapid, irregular heartbeat
Sweating or hot flushes
Teeth grinding, especially at night (bruxism)
Nausea or feeling sick
Altered frequency of urination
Changes in sexual desire
Experiencing panic attacks
Some tips for managing the above physical symptoms include:
Progressive Muscle Relaxation - Systematically tensing and then relaxing muscle groups.
Scented oils in baths and gently massaging aching body parts with scented oils
Sleeping with weighted blankets
Teaching your child to learn these physical symptoms as a way of expression
Lifestyle Changes for Anxiety Management
Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
Sleeping enough hours and establishing a calm bedtime routine creating a sleep-conducive environment can improve sleep quality.
Have a pen and paper by your bed if you get rushing thoughts.
Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques
Meditation has been shown to be just as good, if not better, than medication. Meditation is super helpful with intrusive thoughts and thought management. Practizing the below techniques consistently is where you can start to see the change.
Using meditation apps or YouTube
Listening to calm music
Using your 5 senses for grounding
Deep breathing - slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth (x4/ x6)
Guided imagery can transport your mind to a calm and peaceful place
Stress Management Strategies
The Connection Between Stress and Anxiety
As stress is a trigger for anxiety, it is really important to know how to manage our stress levels and how to respond to any external stress. Be compassionate and gentle with yourself by making an effort to practice the below techniques:
Listening and respecting your stress/anxiety needs
Effective time management
Using lists and reminders
Asking for help
Using level of emergency/importance scale
Step by step technique
Setting clear boundaries and sticking to them - you are allowed to
Identifying Your Anxiety Triggers
Identify the specific situations or thoughts that trigger your anxiety. Noticing, understanding and being conscious of your anxiety triggers is essential for effective management. It is also important to notice if there is a pattern to your triggers. Once you identify your triggers, develop coping strategies to face them head-on by practizing the below:
Gradual exposure to the triggers/fears at your own pace (using anxiety management techniques during).
Take small steps to confront your fears and anxiety-inducing situations.
Work around your anxiety triggers - be mindful of them
What is and isn’t in my control
Staying Consistent with Your Anxiety Management Plan
Consistency is key in managing anxiety and your mental health. Make anxiety management techniques a part of your daily routine to maintain long-term well-being.
When to Seek Professional Help and Medication
If anxiety continues to interfere with your life, despite your efforts, don't hesitate to seek professional help or book an appointment with us at BreakingTheChalk.com.
In our private practice, we specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) , a well-established therapeutic approach for managing anxiety. It focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety.
CBT teaches you how to recognize and reframe irrational or unhelpful thoughts, helping you to regain control over your anxiety. CBT provides practical tools and strategies to manage anxiety in real-life situations.
Conclusion: Taking Control of Your Anxiety
Managing anxiety is a journey that requires dedication and self-compassion. You can start to feel a little more control over your life by understanding your anxiety, implementing healthy lifestyle changes, practizing mindfulness, and seeking professional guidance when necessary. It’s key to remember that you are not alone in this journey and that support is always available.
If you are struggling with anxiety and need professional help or a safe space, please contact us at www.breakingthechalk.com