How Science Can Help
The way you cope or handle things in life has a direct impact on how much anxiety you experience tweak the way youre coping, therefore, and you can lower your anxiety levels. Here are some of the top coping skills that have emerged from our study at the University of Cambridge, which will be presented at the 30th European Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology in Paris, and other scientific research.
Do you feel like your life is out of control? Do you find it hard to make decisions or get things started? Well, one way to overcome indecision or get going on that new project is to do it badly.
This may sound strange, but the writer and poet GK Chesterton said that: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. And he had a point. The reason this works so well is that it speeds up your decision-making process and catapults you straight into action. Otherwise, you could spend hours deciding how you should do something or what you should do, which can be very time-consuming and stressful.
People often want to do something perfectly or to wait for the perfect time before starting. But this can lead to procrastination, long delays or even prevent us from doing it at all. And that causes stress and anxiety.
Using do it badly as a motto gives you the courage to try new things, adds a little fun to everything, and stops you worrying too much about the outcome. Its about doing it badly today and improving as you go. Ultimately, its about liberation.
Do Easy Workouts Help To Combat Anxiety
It might be helpful to pretend youre blowing out through a straw. Let out a tiny bit of air in a slow and steady stream so that it lasts a really long time.
Repeat this for as long as it takes. If you find your mind gearing up again, re-engage your busywork strategy . If you find yourself feeling ungrounded again, go back to those body sensations. Re-anchor. Start again. Do this until your breath feels more regular, and you can look around the room and notice all the things in it.
Congratulations, you have survived.
The 3 Bs are easy to remember and relatively simple. If you practice them outside of crisis moments, youll be even more likely to remember and use them . And if you train a parent, friend, or partner to slow down and guide you through the process when they see you struggling, youll find even more pervasive relief.
Of course, if you find yourself worried about having another attack in between attacks, and especially if you start avoiding people, places, or things youd otherwise be meeting with, going to, or doing, its probably time to find a professional to help navigate.
In the meantime, try to stay aware of your body so you can catch the earliest hint of anxiety. When your throat starts closing up or your mind suddenly fills with more Is and shoulds and nevers than usual, grab your 3 Bs and go to work.
Working Through Your Worries Mentally
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Knowing How Anxiety Works Can Help You To Better Support Loved Ones Without Inadvertently Making Their Anxiety Worse
When I first moved into my spouses house in 2001, she didnt want to include my name in our answering machine greeting. Because of our big age gap and same-sex relationship, she was justifiably anxious about how her parents would react to my having moved in so she kept it from them for several months. Though I felt a great deal of compassion for her and her situation, I was also frustrated that her anxiety was affecting meand I didnt like acting as though we had something to be ashamed of.
Scenarios like this are common when someone in your life is struggling with anxiety. Your loved one may feel so fearful that they avoid taking action, or act in ways that are inconsiderate or that increase your own anxiety. This might look like a boyfriend constantly putting off important tasks or discussions, a friend complaining about being lonely but refusing to date, or a boss always focusing on what could go wrong, making everyone miserable. Its difficult to witness anxiety in someone you know, and its even harder when their anxiety triggers yours.
But what can you do to help anxious people?
While its upsetting and frustrating to see these folks suffer, there are things you can do to help. Here are some of the strategies I recommend based on my book, The Anxiety Toolkit.
What Do Fear And Anxiety Feel Like
When you feel frightened or seriously anxious, your mind and body work very quickly. These are some of the things that might happen:
- Your heart beats very fast maybe it feels irregular
- You breathe very fast
- You have hot and cold sweats
- You get a dry mouth
- You get very tense muscles
These things occur because your body, sensing fear, is preparing you for an emergency, so it makes your blood flow to the muscles, increases blood sugar, and gives you the mental ability to focus on the thing that your body perceives as a threat.
With anxiety, in the longer term, you may have some of the above symptoms as well as a more nagging sense of fear, and you may get irritable, have trouble sleeping, develop headaches, or have trouble getting on with work and planning for the future you might have problems having sex, and might lose self-confidence.
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Practice Doing What Makes You Anxious
Once you have identified the situations that make you anxious and you have rated the hierarchy from least to most anxious, you are ready to confront your fears. We find it helpful to start with imagining each step in the hierarchy. So, imagine that you are thinking of going to the party and stay with that image until your anxiety drops. Then move on to imagining the next step in the hierarchy. You can also remind yourself of your rational responses to your negative thoughts. For example, when you imagine walking into the party and the thought pops up, Everyone can see I am anxious,” you can remind yourself that people have a very hard time noticing your internal feelings and that they are focusing on their own concerns . Keep imagining and let the anxiety flow out and away.
Then, you can start with exposurepracticing what you fear. Dont take that extra drink: Instead, go to the party, walk in, notice that your anxiety might be there, acknowledge it, and then say, I am going to do this even if I am anxious.” Its OK to be anxious when you do the exposurethat’s the point. You can learn that you can actually do things when you are anxious and there is no catastrophe.
Know When To Walk Away
But what if work isn’t accommodating? If it’s too much, consider whether you need to stay in your current position or walk away.
I realize that it’s a privilege not everyone has. I’m lucky to be in a place where I can be honest with my managers. And personally, I’ve never been in a place where I could just leave a job without worrying about the financial impact. I completely empathize with anyone in that place.
However, I’ve made the mistake many times in my career of prioritizing work over my own mental health. I hid in bathroom stalls in previous jobs to wait out my anxiety attacks. Through several traumatic work experiences, I’ve learned that the only one who can and will take care of me is meand my mental health team.
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Break Out The Journal
Journaling is an effective method for processing your thoughts and untangling your emotions. During your break, grab your journal and free-write about how youre feeling. Web-based journals like Penzu and Journey or journaling apps like Day One and Daylio are all great digital options.
Your journal is a safe place to brain-dump and overthink. Sometimes, when we see our thoughts on the page, it becomes easier to assess them objectively. In other words, we can literally separate our thoughts from our emotions when we write them out.
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.
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Remember That It Wont Kill You
Panic attack symptoms vary from person to person. Common ones include chest pain, nausea, increased heart rate, muscle tension, chills, and a fear of dying. For me, it normally starts with a heightened awareness of my breathing, which leads to shortness of breath. As the feeling intensifies, I break out in a cold sweat Im drenched head-to-toe in seconds. When the attack peaks, my vision blurs, my ears ring, I get dizzy, and I normally feel like Ive blacked out for a moment. It feels like Im about to die, but panic attacks are not dangerous. Its simply a misplaced surge of adrenaline, and it will not kill you. Quite the opposite in fact its a normal survival response.
Try to remember that the more you push back against a panic attack, the more intense it will become
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.
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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.
How To Do It
To practice 4-7-8 breathing, find a place to sit or lie down comfortably. Be sure you practice good posture, especially when starting out. If youre using the technique to fall asleep, lying down is best.
Prepare for the practice by resting the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your top front teeth. Youll need to keep your tongue in place throughout the practice. It takes practice to keep from moving your tongue when you exhale. Exhaling during 4-7-8 breathing can be easier for some people when they purse their lips.
The following steps should all be carried out in the cycle of one breath:
When you inhale again, you initiate a new cycle of breath. Practice this pattern for four full breaths.
The held breath is the most critical part of this practice. Its also recommended that you only practice 4-7-8 breathing for four breaths when youre first starting out. You can gradually work your way up to eight full breaths.
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