Four Self-Help Tips for Anxiety
A Little Anxiety is Common
Everyone gets stressed out and worried from time to time. We all feel anxious, nervous or scared about certain situations such as public speaking, or the first day on a new job, going off to college, a first date, work deadlines, and so forth.
That kind of anxiety might get your adrenaline pumping for a short while as your mind strives to find a comfort zone of confidence, control, and personal empowerment. Feeling anxious like this is a normal and common human experience.
Once the anxiety-producing event is over, youíre back to your normal self again. The problem is time-limited, easily solved alone or with a little counseling click here to see how we can help you with that.
More Serious Types of Anxiety
But, did you know that more serious types of anxiety affect 40 million Americans every year? These types include:
Social Anxiety – extreme discomfort in groups
Agoraphobia – fear of leaving your home and being in public
Panic Disorder – physical feelings of terror, dread, unreality
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – panic, flashbacks, nightmares, inability to focus, getting startled easily
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – obsessions, compulsions, repetitive and ritualistic behaviors, intrusive thoughts
Specific Phobias – profound fear of snakes, heights, crowds, etc.
Generalized Anxiety – exaggerated worry, anticipating of the worst
The average age of first experiencing a serious type of anxiety is 11, and women are 60% more likely to suffer at some point in their lives from an anxiety disorder than men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Understanding the Anxiety Cycle
While itís possible that an uncommon medical condition is producing your anxiety, itís more likely attributed to a particularly unhelpful way that your mind is perceiving danger. When the mind perceives a threat, it reacts. Thatís instinctual, and is designed to be self-protective.
Sometimes the mind perceives situations as threatening when they really are not. When you have one of the serious types of anxiety, itís like your mind gets stuck in constantly perceiving danger even when itís not objectively there.
When that happens, the brain sends biochemical signals to the body to prepare to fight, flee, or freeze. Itís this physical, adrenaline-releasing mechanism that causes us to feel on edge.
This becomes a vicious cycle. The body feels on edge, so the mind becomes hyper-alert for danger which triggers the release of more adrenaline which in turn makes us more scared and anxious.
4 Tips for Reducing Anxiety Yourself
It is always advisable to consult a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or your primary care physician when you have reason to believe that your anxiety is out of control. Getting an expert opinion about whatís going on will help to set your mind at ease and assure that you get the best care most quickly.
You can also help yourself by practicing these three tips:
Reduce or eliminate the use of caffeine. Soda, coffee, tea, chocolate and even several over the counter medications Ė notably pain relievers Ė have enough caffeine to make many people over-anxious. Try going without these substances for a week and see if you feel less anxious or reactive to the perception of danger.
Distract yourself. Anxiety is reinforced by dwelling on it. Change your mental game by focusing your attention on activities that you enjoy, trivial conversations with friends, books or movies, going for a walk or getting to the gym.
Mutter a Power Message. The mind responds to the messages you feed it. Give yourself reassuring messages to reinforce the belief that there is no danger worthy of reacting to with anxiety. Chances are that when you start to feel anxious, you are in reality quite safe. A powerful statement for refocusing the mind is simply: In this moment I am safe.
Take Slow Deep Breaths. One of the best tools for reducing anxiety is already built into your body Ė the simple act of taking 1-5 minutes to practice long, slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes, and try to count silently up to 4 or 8 as you inhale, and again as you exhale. As you begin to feel the body relaxing, combine this slow deep breathing with your power message.
These four tips can be combined with any other treatment your psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or primary care physician has prescribed for you.
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