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How To Help Your Anxiety

How Much Worrying Is Too Much

How to help your child with test anxiety

Worries, doubts, and anxieties are a normal part of life. Its natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming job interview, or a first date. But normal worry becomes excessive when its persistent and uncontrollable. You worry every day about what ifs and worst-case scenarios, you cant get anxious thoughts out of your head, and it interferes with your daily life.

Constant worrying, negative thinking, and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can sap your emotional strength, leave you feeling restless and jumpy, cause insomnia, headaches, stomach problems, and muscle tension, and make it difficult to concentrate at work or school. You may take your negative feelings out on the people closest to you, self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, or try to distract yourself by zoning out in front of screens. Chronic worrying can also be a major symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder , a common anxiety disorder that involves tension, nervousness, and a general feeling of unease that colors your whole life.

If youre plagued by exaggerated worry and tension, there are steps you can take to turn off anxious thoughts. Chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more balanced, less fearful perspective.

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How To Help Your Child In An Anxious Moment

When your child is in the middle of a very anxious moment, they may feel frightened, agitated or worried about having a panic attack. The important thing to do in the moment is to help them calm down and feel safe.

These strategies can help:

Remember that everyone is different, and that over time you and your child can work together to find the things that work best for them in these moments.

Tips For Coping With An Anxiety Disorder

Having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life, but people with anxiety disorders experience frequent and excessive anxiety, fear, terror and panic in everyday situations. These feelings are unhealthy if they affect your quality of life and prevent you from functioning normally.

Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger

These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control. They are out of proportion to the actual danger and can cause you to avoid places or situations.

You should see your health care provider if your anxiety is affecting your life and relationships. Your provider can help rule out any underlying physical health issue before seeing a mental health professional.

While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes and coping strategies also can make a difference.

Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:

  • Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you’re physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
  • Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. Nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
  • Also Check: How To Deal With Sleep Anxiety

    When Should I Seek Professional Help For My Anxious Child

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and our experts, you should consult a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating children with an anxiety disorder when the childs behavior or anxiety:

    • Disrupts the household and interferes with family activities and life
    • When the child gets upset multiple times a day or week
    • When the frequency and intensity of the fears escalate .
    • When the anxiety leads to significant avoidance behavior. The child continually and consistently makes excuses to avoid school or other situations that may provoke anxiety.
    • When the disorder is making it difficult for the child to interact with, make or keep friends.
    • When sleep habits are disrupted
    • When you begin to see compulsive behaviors and rituals such as repeated hand washing, counting, checking things and when the child refuses or is unable to leave the house without performing these rituals.
    • When your child shows a pattern of physical symptoms that are disruptive and detrimental to the child
    • When your child experiences panic attacks characterized by heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, hyperventilation.

    Try The File It Mind Exercise

    How to support your child with school anxiety ...

    The File It technique works particularly well if youre lying awake at night thinking of all the things you have to do or havent done, or if youre rehashing something that happened during the day.

    These are the steps for performing this exercise:

  • Close your eyes and imagine a table with file folders and a file cabinet on it.
  • Imagine yourself picking up each file and writing down the name of a thought thats racing through your mind for example, the fight you had with your spouse, the presentation you have to give tomorrow at work, or the fear you have of getting sick with COVID-19.
  • Once the name is on the file, take a moment to acknowledge the thought and how important it is to you. Then, file it away.
  • Repeat this process with every thought that pops into your head until you start to feel calmer
  • The idea with this exercise is that youre taking a moment to name your triggers, examine them, and then consciously put them aside with a deadline to tackle them later. In other words, youre validating your own feelings and making a plan to deal with them, one by one, when its a better time.

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    How To Calm Down Quickly

    Something sets you off, and before long, you feel stuck in an endless loop of intrusive thoughts, pondering every possible thing that could go wrong. Your body tenses, your breathing quickens, and you can hear your heartbeat pounding in your ears.

    When you feel anxiety kick in like this, its time to calm yourself down. The first step is awareness. Its a good idea to learn to recognize the first signs of anxiety and get to work right away before experiencing an episode.

    How To Challenge These Thoughts

    During your worry period, challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself:

    • Whats the evidence that the thought is true? That its not true?
    • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
    • Whats the probability that what Im scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
    • Is the thought helpful? How will worrying about it help me and how will it hurt me?
    • What would I say to a friend who had this worry?

    Also Check: How Do I Get Rid Of Anxiety Without Medication

    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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  • Take some deep breaths.
  • When we’re anxious, our breath becomes rapid and shallow. Deep belly breathing helps decrease anxiety by stimulating the bodyâs relaxation response, lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Itâs a powerful technique that works because we canât breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. There are many variations to try, including this simple exercise:

    Inhale deeply for a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Repeat several times.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Exercise is one of the best anxiety remedies, immediately and long term. Going for a walk creates a diversion from worries and releases muscle tension. Grab your headphones or earbuds on the way out:studies show that listening to music brings its own calming effects.

    Long term, regular exercise triggers the release of feel-good neurochemicals in the brain, building up resilience against stormy emotions. It boosts confidence and mood, and we donât need to run a marathon to feel the benefits. Washing the car, hiking, gardening, a pick-up game â anything that gets us moving counts. Research shows that 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week can help to significantly improve anxiety symptoms, but even 10 minutes can make a difference.

  • Sip some chamomile or green tea.
  • Green tea, long used in Chinese medicine to treat depression, contains the amino acid L-theanine, which relieves stress, and reduces blood pressure and muscle tension.

  • Get distracted.
  • Read Also: What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    Instead Say: Lets Go To A Quieter Place Or Go For A Walk

    If you want to try to help your friend get out of anxiety mode , you can try grounding them back in reality. Anxiety makes people hyper-focused on the thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that are causing the distress, so to get your friends mind off of those things, ask if they want to take a walk, listen to some music or go to a quiet corner.

    Sometimes we need a supportive push to help break us out of our vicious cycle of panic and panicking about panic. Techniques like this are similar to what trained psychologists and therapists use as part of cognitive behavioral therapy, the gold standard of treatment for people who have anxiety disorders.

    Normal Anxiety Or Anxiety Disorder How To Tell The Difference

    Every person, child, and adult, is going to feel anxious at some point, says Eli R. Lebowitz, PhD, director of the Program for Anxiety Disorders at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. Anxiety is a normal emotion that has a dual purpose. It prevents us from doing something dangerous and can motivate us as well, says , director of Alvord, Baker & Associates, a psychotherapy practice that specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents and adults with anxiety and other disorders. For example, anxiety might motivate a child to practice the piano for his recital or be the encouragement a child needs to do their homework so they can be prepared for class.

    What differentiates normal from problematic anxiety is the degree to which the anxiety interferes with functioning that you would expect for a child of or developmental stage, says Alvord. Children with anxiety disorders inevitably begin to avoid situations, things, people, and places that make them anxious, says Alvord. Avoidance is the hallmark of anxiety disorders.

    Read Also: Can A General Physician Prescribe Anxiety Medication

    Public Events Or Performances

    Public speaking, talking in front of your boss, performing in a competition, or even just reading aloud is a common trigger of anxiety. If your job or hobbies require this, your doctor or therapist can work with you to learn ways to be more comfortable in these settings.

    Also, positive reinforcements from friends and colleagues can help you feel more comfortable and confident.

    Natural Remedies For Anxiety And Stress

    How to support someone with anxiety

    Natural remedies are generally safe to use alongside more conventional medical therapies.

    However, alterations to the diet and some natural supplements can change the way antianxiety medications work, so it is essential to consult a doctor before trying these solutions. The doctor may also be able to recommend other natural remedies.

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    Find A Mindfulness Exercise That Works For You

    While mindfulness is sometimes dismissed as a pseudo-science, studies such as this 2010 study at the American Psychological Association, have shown that meditation is a great way to reduce stress hormones and thereby manage anxiety. Mindfulness meditation is a practice that helps you regulate your breath, connect with your body, and calm the mind.

    As Braje explained, “There are a lot of studies that support mindfulness meditation in improving stress management. Luckily, there are many apps which can help people who may struggle with meditation. Like exercise, people may have to do it in small doses, like 2 minutes, before working up to 10 or 15 minutes.”

    How To Help Your Child Overcome Separation Anxiety

    Whats Inside this Article: An overview of separation anxiety disorder and the official diagnostic criteria in the DSM V. Plus, helpful resources to help ALL children who struggle with separating from a caregiver, regardless of diagnosis.

    Feeling a bit anxious when separating from caregivers is a normal part of childhood development and generally nothing to worry about.

    Most kids are overcoming this worry by the time they enter kindergarten. By then, theyre separating from their parents regularly and learning that its safe and their parents will soon return.

    Unfortunately for some kids, these anxious feelings just continue to intensify. Were going to talk about how to help these children overcome those fears.

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    Treatment For Childhood Anxiety Disorders

    If you suspect your child has a disorder, the first step is to see a trained therapist who will take a full history, talk with and ask questions of the parents, family members, and the child about the fears and behavior. The therapist can diagnosis the childs specific anxiety disorder based on the information collected through these interviews.

    Cut Back On Alcohol And Caffeine

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    Alcohol and caffeine may seem like the perfect distraction or remedy to anxiety, but in reality, they have both been shown to make the symptoms of anxiety worse. One 2017 study by the Society for the Study of Addiction, for example, suggested that a reduction in alcohol consumption could improve the frequency and severity of anxiety, while a 1992 study from the journal JAMA Psychiatry demonstrated that caffeine caused an increase in sweating, blood pressure, and feelings of anxiety in people with generalized anxiety disorder.

    Both alcohol and caffeine are addictive substances, so cutting back may seem tough in fact, at the beginning, it may temporarily make you feel even more anxious. Make the transition easier by switching to herbal tea or hot water and lemon in the morning and a tasty mocktail in the evening.

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