Overcoming Anxiety - a little guide
The “What If’s” of our lives are many…We all seem to have these moments where we fear things without real, concrete facts. These fears are solely based on our own internal thoughts of what we perceive the outcome of a situation will be.
In order to overcome the anxiety you’re experiencing, you need to understand what it is to learn how to deal with it…So what exactly is anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety is your body’s internal reaction to stress.
Often, it’s related to the worries and fears of future events that have not yet occurred.
This can manifest itself in uncontrollable fears, worries, apprehension, or panic of something we perceive to cause us harm (even if it doesn’t actually cause us physical harm).
Anxiety is not limited to but can range from feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy to social fears about how others perceive us to disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
It’s important to note that anxiety isn’t an issue in and of itself. Anxiety is a natural response that makes us human.
It’s an innate response that is wired within us to protect us from danger.
However, sometimes we react to everyday situations with the same response that our ancestors had when they faced a Saber-toothed tiger.
In other words, we sometimes manifest anxiety even if there’s no actual danger present.
Generally speaking, anxiety is a feeling that we can manage ourselves, but sometimes it may become an issue…
Anxiety becomes an issue when it starts to interfere with our day-to-day lives and manifests itself in an intense form.
If you begin to lose sleep and/or obsess over your anxiety or feel like you have lost control of your life, then we need to take a closer look.
There are a variety of anxiety disorders that exist such as, Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Social anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, and various forms of phobia disorders.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is also linked to anxiety, since some people that worry also obsess with their intrusive thoughts. In other words, the “what if’s” that they can’t control.
Sometimes, the frustration of not knowing how to deal with anxiety can lead to depression, so if you feel you cannot manage your anxiety, please seek advice from a medical professional.
Now let’s learn some effective tips on how to overcome anxiety. Keep in mind that anxiety is not something that you overcome once in your lifetime. Anxiety is a natural emotion that we will feel many times throughout our lives, but these tips can help you manage anxiety effectively.
ACCEPT THE ANXIETY
Whether you feel you are dealing with normal bouts of anxiety or are struggling with an ongoing battle to control your anxiety, the first thing you have to do is to STOP trying to control the anxiety!
It may seem counterintuitive but trying to stop and fight the emotions brought on by anxiety only makes matters worse!
By actively thinking about wanting to stop it, you are actually increasing your anxiety!
Don’t try to control or resist your anxiety.
Instead, you have to breathe, relax, and simply accept these uncomfortable feelings.
The more you allow yourself to let the anxiety pass by, the more likely you are to regain control of yourself again.
Yoga is not only an exercise that increases strength and flexibility.
It is also an amazing practice that nurtures your mind and soul.
Yoga really aligns the mind, body, and soul, and even helps with anxiety.
Research shows that yoga reduces the stress responses of the body, which can help alleviate anxiety and depression.
BREATHE THE PROPER WAY
Exhale through your mouth first and then inhale through your nose.
Many times, I have seen people try to practice breathing exercises to only feel more fatigued, especially since they are already nervous and breathing frantically, which leads them feeling even more out of breath.
You should never just try taking a deep breath in, without giving yourself an opportunity to exhale.
Exhaling first will allow you to get a whole breath in and fill your lungs more successfully.
(Yes, there is actually a proper way to breathe!)
Another helpful tip is to breathe into your stomach. It helps if you think of your stomach like a balloon. Imagine you’re inflating your stomach with a deep, low breath. Just remember to exhale first and then take a nice, deep breath.
INCREASE YOUR MAGNESIUM INTAKE
Research shows that magnesium deficiencies may induce anxiety.
Research also shows that magnesium supplements can reduce anxiety symptoms.
Therefore increasing your intake of magnesium can alleviate anxiety.
I always prefer natural methods for bringing your body back to homeostasis, however always check with your doctor before you start taking any supplements.
Remember that when the body is not in balanced and there is too much or too little of something, then issues start popping up.
You can take magnesium supplements or also increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as dark chocolate, spinach, nuts, bananas, avocados, seeds, and brown rice.
BRING AWARENESS TO YOUR THOUGHTS
Make sure you are able to identify the thoughts and feelings that you’re experiencing.
Be mindful of your thoughts and bring awareness to your thoughts.
Mindfulness requires you to be present in the moment and allows you to process how you are feeling and thinking in an objective manner.
Mindfulness is all about being one with your body, environment, and yourself.
Mindfulness also becomes useful in practicing meditation to reduce anxiety by allowing you to quiet your mind. If you can bring yourself to a state of awareness in a moment that you’re experiencing anxiety, you will be able to process your thoughts in a healthier way.
Many therapists use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to change a person’s negative thoughts into a healthier and more positive thought process by changing how they view and perceive the thought they are experiencing.
By doing so, you learn to replace negative thoughts and control your thinking.
Here are a few things to help you change your thought processes to help reduce anxiety.
Make a worry solution list
Write down all your worries and come up with solutions to these worries. If you cannot come up with a solution to a worry then it is most likely something that is out of your control. If this is the case, you have to ask yourself “If I cannot change it, then what can I do to ensure I find a healthy way to handle this problem?” This will train your mind to look for solutions rather than stay focused on the perceived problem.
Replace your thoughts
Thoughts (whether positive or negative) affect feelings, which affect actions (behavior), so if you want to feel or act differently, replace your thoughts.
Fact Check Yourself
Ask yourself, “Are my worries justified and is there factual evidence to back up what I am feeling?” Most often than not, our worries are based on our perceptions. Perceptions are not facts or even reality, so if you change your perception, you can change how you feel.
ENGAGE YOUR SENSES
Engaging your senses is also an effective way to overcome anxiety.
Engaging your sense of smell is a great way to ease your anxiety because smell is strongly tied to emotions.
You can use a diffuser or a pot of boiling water and add some essential oils to calm your nerves. Try smelling scents such as lavender, vanilla, frankincense, jasmine, and basil to ease your anxiety.
You can also listen to music that will ease your anxiety. Try listening to instrumental music, nature sounds (ex. ocean waves, rainforest, rain falling, etc.), or soothing music, for example, “spa” type music. You can easily access this music for free on Pandora, Spotify, or Youtube.
USE POSITIVE IMAGERY
You can also ease anxiety by focusing on an image that brings you peace.
Imagery is very important when dealing with anxiety.
Positive images send feelings of euphoria to our brains, which in turn, helps calm our nerves.
Simply close your eyes and visualize positive imagery that brings you joy. Be sure to paint a vivid mental picture.
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR SCHEDULE
Create a schedule and routine that is healthy that gives you a sense of control.
Many of us pack on way too many things in our daily lives.
Instead of feeling productive we end up feeling depleted and overwhelmed.
Try creating a schedule that sets priorities and allows you to have freedom in between to set time for yourself.
Just as people should make savings a part of their expenses to ensure they save, you have to plan to take time for yourself to ensure you stick with it throughout the day.