It’s normal to feel anxious about transitions. People usually feel nervous about starting life with another person, looking for another job, taking a major exam, giving a public speech, or leaving home.
Anxiety can manifest emotionally, mentally, and physically. For instance, it can make you feel uneasy around expectations of people or upcoming events with unspecified outcomes. Even if the perceived threat isn’t real, this can increase your blood pressure, interfere with your sleep, and, at times, make you irritable.
The Difference Between Normal And Extreme Anxiety
Anxiety is your body’s natural reaction to stress and fear, which can be helpful in some circumstances. The right amount of anxiety motivates you to do your best and break away from what’s familiar in order to grow and improve. It can help you pay extra attention and gear up for what’s to come. At times, this kind of anxiety is all you need to put yourself out there, challenge your wits, and share your talents with others.
Anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but for others, it can be an extreme emotion that hinders one’s ability to enjoy life and function normally. Perceived danger around situations can prevent a person from doing regular activities, even something as seemingly simple as leaving their room. Anxiety can also manifest as bodily sensations and symptoms, such as restlessness, rapid breathing, dizziness, trembling, and sweating.
Even if the sense of danger is out of proportion to the situation, it’s enough reason for the person to avoid it to prevent symptoms from surfacing. In turn, this excessive avoidance and fear can significantly affect one’s performance in school, personal relationships, and quality of life.
Diagnosis For Anxiety Disorders
People diagnosed with anxiety disorder typically have recurring excessive concerns and intrusive thoughts. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5) outlines how those individuals’ fear, anxiety, and avoidance can impair their occupational, social, and daily functioning.
Intense thoughts and feelings might be with the person all the time to the point of becoming debilitating. When it gets more severe, anxiety can trigger attacks, which can be difficult to manage at times. If left unaddressed, this condition can worsen over time.
There’s no shame if you become intensively anxious for no particular reason. However, it’s best to speak with a mental health professional to assess and uncover the root cause of that feeling.
If the symptoms occur longer than six months and affect how you live your life, you might be diagnosed with anxiety disorder. On top of that, the symptoms shouldn’t be due to another medical condition, according to DSM 5.
Treatment For Anxiety Disorder
Take note that anxiety disorder is an umbrella term for various conditions, including generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. Your doctor can rule out symptoms of any underlying medical problems and give you a proper diagnosis.
Getting the right diagnosis is one step toward recovery. This’ll enlighten you and your doctor about the type of treatment suitable for you to get back to your regular activities and lead a productive life.
Treatments for anxiety typically include medication and talk therapy. Your doctor will prescribe medicine to ward off severe symptoms and anxiety attacks. Apart from medication, counseling can help you be more at ease.
Speaking with a psychologist or psychotherapist can equip you with the right methods to cope better as anxiety arises. Anxiety counseling San Diego involves compassionate counselors who can work with you so you can receive the best treatment and adequate support moving forward. Although anxiety disorders have unique manifestations, most patients respond well to therapy.
Self-Help Tips And Strategies To Manage Anxiety
Aside from seeking therapy and taking medication, you need to arm yourself with the right techniques to prevent episodes of anxiety and make your treatment plan more effective.
You might discover that some of these methods are taught and practiced during therapy as you go through the list. While these tips can’t treat anxiety, they can certainly empower you and enable you to ease and manage symptoms in the long run.
1. Journal About Anxiety Episodes
As mentioned, there are different kinds of anxiety disorders. Getting the proper diagnosis allows you to identify your triggers and have an in-depth understanding of your symptoms. This knowledge can help you refine and strengthen your coping strategy to manage your anxiety better.
However, even if you have the same diagnosis as another person, your experiences can still be distinct from theirs. Anxiety manifests differently depending on the individual. Some people might feel detached from their bodies, while for others, the condition may present itself through painful dreams and memories. Common themes include but aren’t limited to giving a presentation, experiencing your first day at school or work, or recurring distress about getting separated from your partner.
Determining how your body reacts to different perceived threats can help you find out and learn more about your unique triggers. Of course, getting to know your anxiety takes time and insightful introspection. To make things easy, keep a journal. Write in detail and record when and where you typically feel intense anxiety. For certain people, it could be during big social gatherings and family affairs. For others, it can start when they have to leave home.
Likewise, journal about how intense your anxiety was during those times. Perhaps making a speech in front of your classmates is more unpleasantly nerve-wracking compared to riding public transportation alone.
Writing down those events the moment they occur can help you know all the ways your anxiety can present itself and identify common themes and patterns. You can also make journaling a nighttime activity where you reflect on how your day went. You can share these insights with your doctor and therapist so you can plan for the worst.
2. Perform Slow Breathing
Another tip to help you handle anxiety episodes is to practice slow breathing. This technique is also taught during therapy.
When you’re anxious, your breathing becomes shallower and faster. This shortness of breath might make you feel as though you’re going to faint. This results in increased heart rate, feelings of choking, chest pain, and nausea, among others.
While symptoms will vary per person, shallow breathing is a common one during a panic attack. For this reason, it’s important to know how you can control your breathing. Slow breathing sends your brain a message that you’re fine. Hence, it slows your heart rate, helping you calm down gradually.
Lie down on a flat surface or find a comfortable space. Try breathing in for four counts and breathing out for another four counts. While you’re at it, put your hand on your abdomen. Make sure to fill your belly with enough air before you exhale. You’d know if there’s enough air in it when you see it rise slightly. Perform this for five minutes or until you feel calm.
3. Practice Meditation
Anxiety management techniques typically have to do with relaxation strategies. When you’re able to step back from daily stressors and pause for a moment, you can clear your head and manage your anxiety.
While there are different relaxation techniques, meditation is one of the most popular and effective. Practicing it helps you focus and bring yourself back to the present moment. It’s a continuous and active effort to become aware of your thoughts and not judge them as they pass, whether they’re positive or negative. Over time, this practice can help you identify thoughts that are and aren’t real.
This deep state of relaxation can help you reduce tension in your body, train your mind to dismiss anxious thoughts, and manage anxiety gradually. As you practice this every day, you can discover how it feels to be calm, which might just encourage you to look forward to this activity.
Take note that meditation doesn’t need a lot of time. To get started, you can simply block off a few minutes each day to sit, concentrate, and calm your nerves. However, if you think meditation is quite challenging, you can start with yoga. Going to a yoga class can help you learn how to meditate successfully.
Apart from practicing meditation, you can listen to calming music and light scented candles in your space. Taking the time to introduce calming activities into your routine can help you eventually overcome your anxiety.
4. Eat Healthily
Another tip for managing anxiety is to practice self-care. Nurture your body by making better dietary choices. Prepare meals at home rather than ordering takeout. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help boost your mental health.
Read up and ask your doctor about foods you should eat daily. Consuming brain-boosting foods may decrease the severity of your symptoms.
Moreover, spending time cooking food with your loved ones can benefit your well-being, making you happier. Doing activities you enjoy lets you release any pressure building up inside you, which may stave off anxiety.
Apart from eating nutritious food, limit your alcohol intake as this can trigger anxiety attacks. If you can, avoid sodas, beverages, and food items with caffeine. These include everything from tea to chocolate to energy drinks.
Living with anxiety is challenging, but there’s always hope for recovery. By taking proactive steps and trying the tips above, you can manage your symptoms so you can lead a productive life. Also, by consulting a doctor and following your treatment program, you can overcome anxiety and get better.