Anxiety Isn’t Something You Can Confront, And That’s Okay

You may have heard people telling you that in order to get over your anxieties, you need to face your fears. You may have even felt there’s some truth to this and that by facing your fears, you can squash your anxieties. The thing is though, when we talk about anxiety in such a way, we’re reducing a complex illness to a single emotion. We’re saying that anxiety is the same as fear, but it’s not.

Image by Christopher Ott

The voices will not disappear simply because we made the decision to act out against them

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are psychiatric disorders that involve a dysregulation of the body’s stress response. They differ from one another in terms of what exactly provokes the fear, anxiety, avoidance, and associated cognitive symptoms, and what type of impact they have.

How to Deal with Anxiety

You can cope with anxiety caused by everyday stressors with some simple strategies on your own if you don’t have this mental disorder. However, an anxiety disorder requires treatment from a mental health professional. Get tips here.

Social Anxiety

Feeling anxious is a necessary, although uncomfortable, part of being alive. However, if your anxiety levels are getting out of control and causing problems when you’re around other people who pose no real or significant threat to you or those you love, you may have a mental health condition called social phobia or social anxiety disorder. 

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable,

yet only 36.9% of those diagnosed

receive treatment (ADAA)

Some general triggers:

  • A stressful job or work environment

  • Driving or traveling

  • Genetics — anxiety could run in your family

  • Withdrawal from drugs or certain medications

  • Side effects of certain medications

  • Trauma

  • Phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)

  • Some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma

  • Chronic pain

  • Having another mental illness such as depression

  • Caffeine

Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder(ADAA)

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Anxiety 101

So, What Can You Do?

There are many things you can do whether it be a quick solution or long term. Sometimes when you're in the moment you want something to help you quickly. Here are 5 quick solutions to help you when you are experiencing anxiety.

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Question your thought pattern

Negative thoughts can take root in your mind and distort the severity of the situation. One way is to challenge your fears, ask if they’re true, and see where you can take back control.

1

Write down your thoughts

Writing down what’s making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.

These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when they’re in a bind too!

2

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Practice focused, deep breathing

Try breathing in for 4 counts and breathing out for 4 counts for 5 minutes total. By evening out your breath, you’ll slow your heart rate which should help calm you down.

The 4-7-8 technique is also known to help anxiety.

3

Go for a walk or do 15 minutes of yoga

Sometimes, the best way to stop anxious thoughts is to walk away from the situation. Taking some time to focus on your body and not your mind may help relieve your anxiety.

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Use aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing.

Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain receptors in your brain, potentially easing anxiety.

5

If anxiety is a regular part of your life, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you keep it in check. It might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or it might just be a matter of cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger.

If you’re not sure where to start, it’s always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before. Till then, here are 6 long term strategies to help you cope with your anxiety.

Do a daily or routine meditation

While this takes some practice to do successfully, mindful meditation, when done regularly, can eventually help you train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise.

If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting with yoga.

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Try supplements or change your diet

Changing your diet or taking supplements is definitely a long-term strategy.

Some of these include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Green tea

  • Valerian root

However, it can take up to three months before your body is actually running on the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor.

Ask your doctor about medications

If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Keep your body and
mind healthy

Exercising regularly, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, and staying connected to people who care about you are great 

Adopt cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral.

Identify and learn to manage your triggers

Long-term problems, such as financial or work-related situations, may take some time to figure out — is it a due date, a person, or the situation? This may take some extra support, through therapy or with friends.

When you do figure out your trigger, you should try to limit your exposure if you can. If you can’t limit it — like if it’s due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.