Butterflies in your stomach, skin tingling, brain running 100 mph. All are potential symptoms of anxiety. You might also find it difficult to concentrate or focus. In other words, anxiety is very disruptive and uncomfortable. The nastier form of anxiety is panic. Your heart might pound and breathing is difficult. Your whole body feels electrified. And, if it happens in public, you’ll most likely want to leave the scene.
Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18.1% of the population, yet only 1/3 of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
Anxiety leaves you with the feeling that something is wrong or that something bad is going to happen.
However, there are several things you can do to minimize anxiety.
- Self-Talk. Listen to the “mean” voice in your head. What is it telling you? Negate that nasty talk with positive affirmations (https://www.mentallyinteresting.com/blog-affirmations). Positive affirmations, with the help of positive self-talk can help wipe those negative thoughts away.
- Self-care. Take good care of yourself. Take a warm shower or bath. Eat a small meal. Smell scents that bring you comfort. Go outside and soak up some sun. Exercise. Take nice, deep breaths (often you will find yourself holding your breath).
- Contact a friend via phone call, text, email. Just bringing your anxiety out into the light can make it feel less menacing. And sharing it can reduce the burden.
- Take medication. You’ll most likely need to see a psychiatrist to receive medications. They might prescribe benzodiapenes (benzos) or beta-blockers. Medication isn’t right for everybody and benzos are addictive, so keep in close contact with your doctor.
- My previous psychiatrist joked that she didn’t realize I had anxiety until we were two years into our therapeutic relationship. I explained to her that I always felt anxious and, therefore, it felt like my normal mood. You may feel the same. Have you been anxious since you were young? Therapy can help with anxiety too. A professional can give you additional tools to cope with your anxiety and serve as a sounding board for the things that are making you anxious.
- Try a brain dump. Get a piece of paper and write down everything that is bothering you. It feels good just to get it out of your head. Often, just the process of writing it all down can help you see where your faulty thinking lies.
- Get out of the house. It feels empowering to break free from your home. And being around other people can be soothing as well.
- Along the same lines as a brain dump, you can journal about what is bothering you. Journaling is also a good way to track your anxiety and what it does over time.
- Spend time with a pet. They are very therapeutic.
- Tap into your “warrior spirit”. We all possess the warrior spirit, it’s just a matter of awakening it. I picture myself as strong and determined.
- Talk to a therapist. They can help you sort your thoughts out and provide more coping skills for you to use.
The next time you feel anxious, try one or more of these techniques. They will at least lessen your anxiety so you can catch your breath. If at any time you feel suicidal, go to the emergency room or contact your doctor.
You can conquer anxiety, it just takes some practice and persistence.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. December 2017