Ways To Deal With Anxiety
Everyone has feelings of anxiety, nervousness, tension, and stress from time to time. Here are 5 ways to help manage them:
When Is Anxiety A Mental Health Problem
Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem if:
- your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
- your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
- you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
- your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
- you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
- you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy.
If your symptoms fit a particular set of medical criteria then you might be diagnosed with a particular anxiety disorder. But it’s also possible to experience problems with anxiety without having a specific diagnosis. Our pages on self-care and treatment for anxiety offer suggestions for help and support.
Recognizing If You Have Social Anxiety
While social anxiety always involves a fear of being judged negatively, the actual situations that cause it can vary greatly from person to person. Many people with social anxiety feel nervous in most situations that involve interacting with or performing in front of other people. But some people only experience social anxiety in particular situations, such as speaking in front of others or hosting an event. For example, a person who is typically very outgoing and comfortable talking to strangers at parties might only have social anxiety when giving presentations. In fact, public speaking is one of the most common specific causes of social anxiety.
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Learn Strategies To Immediately Deal With Symptoms
Educate yourself by learning strategies to immediately deal with anxiety symptoms. The National Institute of Anxiety and Stress has just made available free information that can help you reduce anxiety symptoms quickly, easily, and effectively.
This free information contains audio and workbook exercises that show you:
- how to stop intense anxiety using a simple three-step formula
- how to deal with anxiety symptoms quickly
- what to do when youre having a panic attack
Introduction To Anxiety Attacks/panic Attacks
Anxiety attacks are not a psychological term, so their definition can vary a bit depending on the speaker. But anxiety attacks are often used either synonymously with the term “panic attacks” .
Panic attacks are short term moments of anxiety so severe, it can feel like you are about to die. During an anxiety attack, you’ll often experience a host of physical and mental symptoms that can leave you severely frightened and incredibly drained once they pass. These include:
It’s not uncommon to experience other unusual symptoms during an anxiety attack that all contribute to further fear. Anxiety attacks tend to peak around 10 minutes in and then slowly fade over the course of a few hours, often leaving the individual drained and anxious, and in some cases wondering what went wrong.
These panic attacks are rarely just feelings of nervousness or worry. They are very physical and mental events. Those that have never had a panic attack before dont always realize that they had an anxiety attack. Some people have first-time anxiety attacks so severe that they call the hospital because they think something is going horribly wrong.
Spend More Time Around People Who Appreciate You
For some reason, people with social anxiety have this tendency to spend a lot of time with and around people they dont actually enjoy being around.
- You really dont enjoy the people you work with, but youve got it into your head that you should enjoy spending time with them.
- So youre constantly stuck in this push-pull dynamic of telling yourself you should go to these social events you dont actually want to go to, then feeling anxious about it, then berating yourself for not wanting to go, etc.
- And then, when you do hang out with these people, you dont enjoy it, it quickly gets awkward and you start feeling anxious, and then you start criticizing yourself for being anxious and internalizing the whole thing as all the fault of your damn social anxiety.
Look, overcoming social anxiety doesnt mean that you magically start loving to spend time with everyone on Earth. And its completely normal to simply not enjoy certain peoples company, and as a result, avoid spending more time with them than you have to!
Just because you want to overcome social anxiety doesnt mean you have to constantly push yourself to spend all your time in socially draining situations.
In fact, the opposite is often true: It can be very helpful to give yourself permission not to spend time with certain people. And instead, use that time to hang out with people you actually enjoy and people who appreciate you exactly for who you are.
How Does Anxiety Build Up
Anxious thoughts chase each other like a dog chasing its tail.
Imagine a guy who thinks, What if my hair is thinning?’ suggests Dr. Bea. That creates anxious energy. He feels his head, checks in the mirror and asks his wife, who says, Youve got a nice head of hair.
That feels good for about 20 seconds, until he thinks, She wasnt really listening to me. Next thing you know, hes online, searching for baldness cures. One of them looks good until he sees its side effects include ED and thinks, Thats no good! Now hes 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. Bea.
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Take An Incremental Approach To Overcoming Social Anxiety
Keep in mind that working through a significant social anxiety habit is going to take time.
There are no quick fixes or silver bullets, tempting as that possibility is.
Unfortunately, many people start strong in their journey to overcome social anxiety only to have a setback or two, get discouraged, and then give up.
There are a couple reasons why this happens:
The solution to both of these issues, I think, is to foster an incremental attitude and approach to overcoming your social anxiety.
For example, after reading this guide, homely there are at least a handful of good ideas and strategies you want to implement in order to overcome your social anxiety.
Dont try to do them all at once!
Instead, pick one and focus on that until you start to see some progress and it feels more automatic for you. Only then move on to implementing another.
Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
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Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily.
Here are 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who dont exercise .
There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your bodys stress hormones such as cortisol in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
- Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
- Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
Activities such as walking or jogging that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
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Be A Distant Observer
Constantly thinking about anxiety entraps us. We become tangled in our anxiety so much that its difficult to free ourselves and our thoughts. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. In reality, you are not your anxiety. This fact is helpful as you stop thinking about anxiety.
Begin to just observe yourself and your thoughts from a distance. When you are aware of your thoughts about anxiety, you can catch them. Tell yourself, without judging or berating, Im thinking about my anxiety. Then, intentionally shift your thoughts to something else. This might seem unnatural at first, but with repeated practice, youll not only find it easier, youll find that you need to do less and less .
Being a distant observer combines well with meditation. When you sit in quiet meditation, you can simply let your thoughts come and go. When you notice yourself thinking about anxiety, point it out non-judgmentally to yourself and let it float away. Again, at first your entire meditation session might involve doing this, and thats okay. Its part of the process.
What Makes You Anxious
Because anxiety is a type of fear, the things weve described about fear above are also true for anxiety.
The word anxiety tends to be used to describe worry, or when fear is nagging and persists over time. It is used when the fear is about something in the future rather than what is happening right now.
Anxiety is a word often used by health professionals when theyre describing persistent fear. The ways that you feel when youre frightened and anxious are very similar, as the basic emotion is the same.
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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:
How To Stop Your Anxiety From Screwing Up A Great Relationship
It doesnt necessarily get easier when youve gotten past the dating phase and are ready to get serious: You want to commit, but worry that your anxiety might sabotage an otherwise great relationship.
It doesnt have to, though. Below, therapists share six ways to keep your anxiety in check during the beginning of a relationship and as it progresses.
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How To Stop Thinking About Anxiety: Create A Calm Mind Plan
Borrowing from the idea of a Life Stability Plan , you can create a calm mind plan. This is a plan for replacing thoughts about anxiety with positive affirmations for anxiety relief, which bring a sense of contentment.
As you create your plan of thoughts and action, think of who you are at your core, beyond anxiety. What brings you joy? What induces a sense of peace despite anxiety? What are your strengths? Interests? Use what you love to take the necessary action to replace your thoughts about anxiety with thoughts about the good in your life.
Consider the following elements for your calm mind plan:
- What self-care practices can you incorporate into your everyday life?
- What are some positive activities that you enjoy? Make a list and do at least one thing daily.
- How can you cultivate a sense of awe, an appreciation for something greater, something beautiful that captures your attention and thoughts? Examples include stargazing, water , art, music, and much more. Awe clears away inner turmoil with a wave of outer immensity .
- Get outside. Nature calms mind and body and reduces stress. Both soothing and invigorating, nature shifts our thoughts away from anxiety.
Self-care, being a distant observer of your thoughts, and creating a calm mind plan are intentional actions that enhance each other. Together, they comprise an effective plan for how to stop thinking about your anxiety.
Expert Tips On How To Overcome Social Anxiety
- In Guides
As a psychologist who specializes in anxiety, I get asked all the time about how to overcome social anxiety.
And while I know what a struggle social anxiety can be, I have good news
With the right mindset shifts and some new habits, you can overcome social anxiety.
And thats exactly what Im going to show you how to do in this guide.
- What social anxiety is exactly
- Some specific examples of what social anxiety looks like
- Where social anxiety comes from and what causes it
- A collection of practical tips to help you work through your social anxiety in a healthy way
Okay, lets dive in!
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