What You Feel Is Real
When I had my first anxiety attack at work, I waited until I got physically ill to ask to go home. I guess, to me, it didnt feel like mental symptoms were as palpable, significant, or real as physical ones. Only physical symptoms could validate my troubles and make me feel less guilty and embarrassed about admitting that I needed some form of help.
Thinking that mental health problems are, in some way, not as real as physical ones is not uncommon. This year, millions of Internet users have asked Google if mental illness is real, and the Internet abounds with public awareness campaigns from the government and non-profit organizations answering with a resounding Yes!
Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes, write the ADAA.
Not only that, but Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States. In fact, the National Institutes of Health report that as many as 1 in 5 Americans are affected by anxiety disorders.
When I had my anxiety attack, my main worry was that my employer would think I was trying to skive my duties. If you feel the same, the good news is youre not alone. In fact, a recent survey on workplace stress and anxiety reports that 38 percent of those with an anxiety disorder do not tell their employers because they fear that their boss would interpret it as lack of interest of unwillingness to do the activity.
Tone Your Inner Power Daily
Think of your inner power as a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you use it, the more toned it becomes and the more you are able to accomplish. Every time you practice a healthy life strategy, you actually increase your ability to conquer your anxiety. What you couldnt do yesterday, you can do today. With practice, your new skills will become automatic. This is how you create lasting freedom from anxiety.
In the words of Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Set Small Achievable Goals
Anxiety sufferers tend to set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. To counteract this tendency, set goals that you can easily accomplish. This builds your confidence and your sense of accomplishment.
When you are learning skills to handle stress and reduce your anxiety, small steps work best. For example, if your goal is to integrate deep breathing into your life, start by practicing for one-minute intervals three or four times a day instead of for an hour all at once.
Setting small, achievable goals will help will take you farther than you can imagine over time. It will help you reach your final destination: a happier, low-anxiety life.
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How To Get A Sudden Spike In Anxiety Under Control
Whether youve lived with an anxiety disorder for years, or just started experiencing one during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, managing your mental health is more important than ever. Experiencing a sudden spike in anxiety is a common issueone thats being experienced by more and more people.
A 2020 poll released by the American Psychiatric Association reveals that 62% of Americans feel more anxious than they did , says Tonya Crombie, Ph.D., author of Stop Worrying About Your Anxious Child. That marks a sizable increase over APA polls of the , in which the number has ranged between 32% and 39%.
When you consider the significant stressors brought on by a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, social unrest, bitter political divisionsit is completely understandable why so many more people are feeling more anxious than ever before, Crombie says.
Here, learn what causes a sudden onset of anxiety, and how it can be managed.
Traces Of Deteriorating Physical Health
Everyone has habits that come out during high times of stress or anxiety. For me, the shorter and more ragged my nails are, the more likely Im restless. Picking at my nails becomes a quick and routine way to deal with my ongoing anxiety.
I first started having short and unkempt nails when I was in a romantic relationship that was pretty toxic. It started as a coping mechanism for my youthful anxiety and returns when I need to cope. Its a physical sign that Im not sure how to let things unfold or let things be.
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Don’t Drag Others Down
Office drama can be entertaining at times, but it ultimately makes the environment more stressful and lowers morale. Try changing the subject when people talk poorly of coworkers or the boss, or simply come up with a reason to leave the room. Dont respond to texts or emails that seek to drag others down.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop Worrying
Constant worrying can take a heavy toll. It can keep you up at night and make you tense and edgy during the day. And even though you hate feeling like a nervous wreck, it can still be so difficult to stop. For most chronic worriers, the anxious thoughts are fueled by the beliefsboth negative and positivethat you hold about worrying:
Negative beliefs about worry. You may believe that your constant worrying is harmful, that its going to drive you crazy or affect your physical health. Or you may worry that youre going to lose all control over your worryingthat it will take over and never stop. While negative beliefs, or worrying about worrying, adds to your anxiety and keeps worry going, positive beliefs about worrying can be just as damaging.
Positive beliefs about worry. You may believe that your worrying helps you avoid bad things, prevents problems, prepares you for the worst, or leads to solutions. Maybe you tell yourself that if you keep worrying about a problem long enough, youll eventually be able to figure it out? Or perhaps youre convinced that worrying is a responsible thing to do or the only way to ensure you dont overlook something? Its tough to break the worry habit if you believe that your worrying serves a positive purpose. Once you realize that worrying is the problem, not the solution, you can regain control of your worried mind.
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Obsession Or An Endless Thought Loop That Leaves You Exhausted
When I find myself writing Ill not control my family. Im not in charge of anyone else repeatedly, its probably a sign of anxiety and not a reaffirming practice to let go.
Sometimes this happens in my mind instead of on paper. When Im around my relatives, I start thinking about what each person is or isnt doing.
Did he load the dishwasher? Is she looking at her phone ? Did he just turn up the music? Are those his T-shirts on the couch?
The thought loop repeats.
Tip : Interrupt The Worry Cycle
If you worry excessively, it can seem like negative thoughts are running through your head on endless repeat. You may feel like youre spiraling out of control, going crazy, or about to burn out under the weight of all this anxiety. But there are steps you can take right now to interrupt all those anxious thoughts and give yourself a time out from relentless worrying.
Get up and get moving. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment because it releases endorphins which relieve tension and stress, boost energy, and enhance your sense of well-being. Even more importantly, by really focusing on how your body feels as you move, you can interrupt the constant flow of worries running through your head. Pay attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground as you walk, run, or dance, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the sun or wind on your skin.
Take a yoga or tai chi class. By focusing your mind on your movements and breathing, practicing yoga or tai chi keeps your attention on the present, helping to clear your mind and lead to a relaxed state.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation. This can help you break the endless loop of worrying by focusing your mind on your body instead of your thoughts. By alternately tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body, you release muscle tension in your body. And as your body relaxes, your mind will follow.
Relaxation techniques can change the brain
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Avoidance Or Ignoring What You Need
Even though I want to feel less alone, less crazed, and know that Im not the only one to go through this when anxiety takes over, I avoid talking it out.
As a follow-up to obsession and a prelude to restlessness, I start to lack perspective on everything else thats happening to me. While there are plenty of trusted folks who could offer a sympathetic ear and help get these pressing and troubling thoughts out of my brain, I tell myself Im too busy doing and planning to have someone listen to me.
Avoidance of talk therapy a recommended tool to manage anxiety can be dangerous for people who need help with anxiety and mental health issues. When I wont talk about my problems with another person, the problems tend to feel secretive and larger than what they really are.
Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
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Tip : Challenge Anxious Thoughts
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and worry, chances are you look at the world in ways that make it seem more threatening than it really is. For example, you may overestimate the possibility that things will turn out badly, jump immediately to worst-case scenarios, or treat every anxious thought as if it were fact. You may also discredit your own ability to handle lifes problems, assuming youll fall apart at the first sign of trouble. These types of thoughts, known as cognitive distortions, include:
Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.
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Is Your Worry Solvable
Productive, solvable worries are those you can take action on right away. For example, if youre worried about your bills, you could call your creditors to see about flexible payment options. Unproductive, unsolvable worries are those for which there is no corresponding action. What if I get cancer someday? or What if my kid gets into an accident?
If the worry is solvable, start brainstorming. Make a list of all the possible solutions you can think of. Try not to get too hung up on finding the perfect solution. Focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than the circumstances or realities beyond your control. After youve evaluated your options, make a plan of action. Once you have a plan and start doing something about the problem, youll feel much less anxious.
If the worry is not solvable, accept the uncertainty. If youre a chronic worrier, the vast majority of your anxious thoughts probably fall in this camp. Worrying is often a way we try to predict what the future has in store-a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesnt work. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesnt make life any more predictable. Focusing on worst-case scenarios will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. To stop worrying, tackle your need for certainty and immediate answers.
How Can You Overcome Fear
AWARE is an acronym standing for:
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Try Some Aerobic Activity
During periods of anxiety, your body is filled with adrenaline. Putting that adrenaline toward aerobic activity can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise has numerous advantages for controlling your anxiety symptoms:
- Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension.
- Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can improve overall mood.
- Exercise is linked to healthier breathing.
- Exercise is a healthy distraction.
Aerobic activity, like light jogging or even fast walking, can be extremely effective at reducing the severity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the anxiety itself.
How Does Anxiety Work
Anxious thoughts chase each other like a dog chasing its tail.
Imagine a woman who has a headache, and the very next thought that jumps into her mind is, Oh no, maybe its a brain tumor, says Dr. Albers. That creates anxious energy. She tells her husband about the headache, who says, This is the first headache youve had in years. Its probably just a headache.
That feels good for about 20 seconds because its true. But then she thinks, This is unusual, Ive had this headache for 30 minutes. He wasnt really listening to me. Next thing you know, shes online, checking out symptoms for brain tumors. She doesnt meet any of the criteria until she sees headache on the list and thinks, Thats no good! Now shes back to square one.
This is one small example of how trying to quell anxiety with reassuring thoughts, or to fix anxious thoughts with other thoughts, just doesnt work. Its also exhausting.
Reassuring thoughts are like a short-acting drug they wear off quickly, says Dr. Albers. Then, the irrational thoughts come flooding back in.
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How To Manage Your Anxiety
We all feel anxiety at times. It becomes problematic when it feels unmanageable, which means different things for different people.
- The key to managing anxiety is learning to identify it, understand it, and respond to it with self-compassion.
- Mindfulness techniques like breath work, meditation, and yoga can reduce anxiety and improve cognition.
- Routines help reduce general feelings of anxiety and are often effective antidotes for those with more serious mental health disorders.
- If your anxiety is holding you back, simply imagining success, and encouraging yourself as you would a friend, has also been correlated with motivation and the achievement of goals.
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When I was nine, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder by my first-ever therapist. My parents dragged me into treatment after repeatedly catching me cleaning their bathroom. I didnt mind, but I was confused. I didnt see anything wrong with what I was doing: organizing their medicine cabinet by color and size, throwing out expired antibiotics and sticky bottles of cough syrup. My favorite part was wiping down the sink with warm water, feeling my worries wash away with stubble and soap scum. Cleaning gave me the sense that I could find inner order among the outer chaos our cramped New York apartment, murmurs of my parents struggling marriage, the growing pains of adolescence.
Its all a practice.
How Can I Calm My Anxiety Fast
Medication is an option for long-term anxiety. But, they are not always an instant fix. Anti-anxiety medications, such as Ativan, Klonopin, or Xanax, can work quicklywithin minutes or hours. Antidepressant medications, sometimes used to treat anxiety, can take a few weeks to reach maximum effectiveness. As Heathman explains, Medication can take much longer to work as medication must be ingested, digested, absorbed, and then transferred in the bloodstream.
If youre experiencing anxiety for the first time or youre having an unexpected spike of anxiety, there are some techniques you can employ in the moment to help with your developing symptoms. Sudden onset anxiety is best controlled with relaxation techniques, Heathman says, which can work instantly after being employed. Some calming strategies include:
All of these techniques work by changing your brains focus, so that anxiety symptoms can pass. One of the keys to calming anxiety is also recognizing when and why it is happening. If you can sense that it is spiking, Saxena explains, then you can challenge yourself to use the same thought pattern to understand that it is a passing feeling.
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