Managing Anxiety In Anxious Times
Anxiety is one of the most pervasive, yet treatable, mental health conditions today. This may be surprising to someone experiencing it, because a person in the throes of an anxiety attack usually knows no way of dealing with it.
Anxiety is unpleasant and can be disabling. It can have powerful bodily effects such as racing heart, shortness of breath, chest constriction and pain. Anxiety usually also comes with mental effects such as fear, dread, panic, and worry. Anxiety results when a perceived stressor or threat is ongoing and can’t be relieved or avoided, or when a person has a traumatic experience. Avoidance of the stressor makes anxiety even worse and harder to overcome.
Many experience anxiety today – even children, and especially adolescents, but also many adults – in part because of the many stresses, demands, threats, impossible expectations, conflicts, and traumas of modern life, often associated with a consumer-oriented, competitive lifestyle and with the breakdown of community and family supports.
There is much a person can learn to do to relieve it, such as:
- Asking for and developing social supports to overcome isolation
- Re-assessing the basis of fears and worries, and putting them in realistic perspective
- Noticing and researching available resources and options
- Focusing on the positives and not the negatives
- Prioritizing, and developing an action plan. Taking action is one of the best anxiety relievers there is!
- Having realistic self-expectations and setting boundaries on oneself and with others
- Intentional breathing to oxygenate the body and brain (when anxious, we tend to hold our breath, and breathe shallow)
- Cardio-vascular exercise provides an outlet for that anxious energy and can provide much relief
- Remembering that anxiety is just a feeling and can pass as quickly as it comes
- Mindfulness training/ meditation can put you in a tranquil space
- Vividly imagining oneself not feeling or being anxious in anxiety-provoking situations
- Getting in touch with your higher power, and getting involved with a cause that contributes to making a better world
- Accepting things we cannot change, and finding the benefits in hardship and difficulty
- Getting coaching from a psychotherapist who can be a guide and mentor to support you in this.
The first and most important step is admitting that you’re having a problem, talking to somebody about it, and asking for help. It helps to know that anxiety is not a personal failing or something to be ashamed of. Everybody gets anxious sometimes, and we all need each other and do better when we get help. Seeking therapy from a professional can help with learning the skills to manage your anxiety.