Do you suffer from anxiety? You’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders among adults in the United States. Anxiety affects over 18% of the population each year.
Anxiety may affect you in a number of different ways. It can lead to depression, irritability, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety tremors, and more.
If you are dealing with anxiety, it’s important to know that your anxiety doesn’t need to control your life. Learn how to manage your anxiety with these 4 simple steps.
If you’ve ever talked with a friend or family member about your anxiety, you’ve probably received this advice: just breathe. It can seem foolish on its face; after all, we’re always breathing. However, learning to breathe the right way can be a way to quickly get a handle on growing anxiety.
The science behind breathing and anxiety is actually pretty simple. When people feel anxious, their breaths become quicker and more shallow. As a result, your body and brain are deprived of oxygen. This can lead to increased heart rate, muscle tension, and many other symptoms you probably associate with anxiety.
Next time you start to feel anxious, focus on slowing your breath down. A good technique is what’s known as the 4-7-8 method.
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds
Do this 8 times. It will allow your body to get properly oxygenated and can even distract your brain from your anxious thoughts.
Does your anxiety leave you with racing thoughts? If so, you may want to try journaling to calm yourself down. Journaling can help you slow down your thoughts and think more logically. It can also help give you a different perspective on the things that are going through your head.
There are lots of different ways to use journaling to manage anxiety. Here are a few to try out:
- Next time your thoughts start racing, write every one of them down. Next, reread each thought and challenge it. What do you know that proves this isn’t true?
- If a relationship is causing your anxiety, write all the things you want to tell that person. Even though you may not ever say them, it can be cathartic to simply get them out.
- Are you experiencing a fear of a particular situation? If so, describe the situation that you’re afraid of. Next, ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen? You’ll likely find that the worst consequence isn’t nearly as bad as you think.
Journaling can also help you identify patterns in your anxiety that you may not otherwise recognise. Recognising these patterns is the first step to changing them.
Believe it or not, meditation can be a powerful tool when it comes to managing your anxiety. Not only does it require slow, steady breathing, but it also teaches you a technique known as mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing all of your attention on the present moment, including what you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing, without placing any judgment on it. It can teach you to experience feelings like anxiety without letting them take control of your life. Best of all, mindfulness can teach you to make space between yourself and your thoughts, so that you can escape the smothering feelings of anxiety.
Talk to a Professional
The best thing you can do for your anxiety in the long term is to get help with it. For one, a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can teach you tools and techniques for managing your anxiety and getting it under control, before it leads to a panic attack. More importantly, however, a therapist can help you understand the underlying cause of your anxiety in an effort to reduce it, or even eliminate it.
I hope these tips help you gain some control over your anxiety, share your thoughts in the comment section below!
This is a guest post. Alycia Coloma is a mother to four beautiful girls and loves to craft DIY projects in her spare time. She enjoys finding new ways to work with tight budgets and spreading her knowledge to parents everywhere. Alycia is a staunch advocate of continuing education and believes that insatiable hunger for knowledge is the key to better finances, a warm family, and fulfilling life as a whole. She’s also a kitchen connoisseur on the side and has been known to whip up some mean empanadas.