How To Deal With Anxiety
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
The last thing I want to do is trivialize anxiety. I wish that was the universal position of
humanity but unfortunately it is not. More information has been shared on mental health
over the last few decades which has led to improved understanding and treatment of
persons who struggle with and or suffer from any kind of mental ill-health.
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress, change and uncertainty. It is important
to understand that at some point in everyone’s life, they will experience some for of anxiety.
The fight-or-flight response is hardwired into us and therefore anxiety is quite normal.
WITH THAT BEING SAID
Let me hasten to say that there is an enormous difference between anxiety as a natural
response, and anxiety disorder. Those two are very distant cousins, not twins.
This is very important to understand, because it is very easy to get the two confused...if
you do not suffer with the disorder. Persons who struggle and suffer from anxiety disorder have no challenge telling that there is a difference.
The pitter-patter of racing hearts before an important interview, or sweating palms
before a first date, the meltdown you experience when things spin out of control, or
even the goosebumps along your spine as you walk down a lonely road at night, is very
real and quite natural. That however is nothing compared to the feelings of asphyxiation
and nausea, or gripping dread that manifests in sometimes humiliating ways, that
persons who suffer from anxiety disorder experiences.
Because the two are so very different, we should never expect that they can be treated
in the same way. If you or someone you know is struggling with this disorder, please
extend and exercise grace. It is not voluntary and it will not simply go away by telling
yourself or that person to “shake it off” or “get over it”. If you don’t know what to say to
someone who is suffering with this disorder, the best thing to do is to be silent and find
someone who does.
Anxiety disorder is not something that anyone should ever consider fighting alone.
Isolation is a weapon of the disease and will ultimately cause more harm than good.
I am not a doctor of any kind, nor do I hold any scientific degrees so I won’t make any
prescriptions on how to deal with anxiety disorders but I do want to give some useful
tips on how to cope with anxiety in the general sense.
1. Change your input
This includes the shows you watch, books you read, whatever you listen to and your
association. Anxiety is a hormonal response to external stimuli which means it can be
adjusted by external stimuli as well. Have you ever breathed a sigh of relief when you
walked into a room and saw a friendly familiar face? Or felt better after chatting with
friends or listening to a great song? The mind is impressionable and that never stops.
So if you find that you’re struggling to keep your wits about you, phase out the negative
input in your life and swap it all out for more positive input.
A lot of the times we get ourselves worked up about our current situations (though often
times we get more worked up about things that haven’t even happened yet!).
Sometimes, when this happens, what we need is a bit of perspective. If we shift our
focus from ourselves and decide to help others, then we may get motivated to take a
different approach to our own situation.
3. Take Control
Anxiety often times makes us feel as if everything is on fire and the world is out of our
control. We visit a dark place inside ourselves and our own inner voices turn on us.
Taking control helps us to regain our balance when things fall apart. Find that one thing
in that moment that you can control and hang on to it. Execute that one task and
acknowledge your usefulness. When you have completed that task, find another. These
tasks can be as grand or miniature as your circumstances will allow. It doesn’t matter!
Find something to control in that moment (preferably not another person). It will help
you to find your centre and you can start to find your way out from there.
4. Keep a journal
Get it out on paper. Everything that you are feeling in the moment, the thing that
triggered the response and your thoughts in the moment. It can help you
figure out how not to stress by giving you a comparative point of reference. Sure, in the
moment, the source of your anxiety can feel quite overwhelming, but after you have survived and made it out on the other side, you will never remember just how great the anxiety was. Having it in writing will help you see the extent of your anxiety in comparison to the outcome which is often times not as severe as we imagined.
This is good for all sorts of reasons. Increased blood flow elevates the “spirit” is a mild
and very unscientific way of saying that exercise works wonders for your overall health. Even 20 minutes a day will help to clear you mind and refocus your energy.
In the grand scheme of things your mental health is very important. In most instances if your mind isn't right it throws off the other areas of your life. Anxiety disorder is known to take over the lives of people, ripping everything part from the inside out. If you are currently suffering from anxiety I do hope these tips prove useful. Remember as well that it is okay to seek external help to cope with this disorder. Furthermore if stressful situations often trigger your anxiety then here are some tips on how to deal with stress.
"Calm mind brings inner strength and self confidence, so that's very important for good health."- Dalai Lama