Overcoming anxiety isn’t always easy, but there are different ways to manage its symptoms. Keep reading to learn how.
5 Tips for Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety
What is anxiety? It is a nagging and persistent worry, fear, or nervousness. The subject of anxiety is usually the future rather than the present.
1. Avoid Physical Symptoms with Regular Exercise
Anxiety brings a variety of physical symptoms. When some people become anxious, their muscles either weaken or tense up.
Exercise helps you become more mindful of your body. On top of that, it can also help lower overall tension in your body.
In fact, regular exercise has been shown to significantly lower anxiety levels in adults with panic disorder. As an added bonus: regular exercise can also help improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Some people who deal with anxiety also experience bothersome sleep issues, such as insomnia. Regular exercise not only reduces stress, but it also tires you out and makes it easier to get a good night’s rest!
2. Prevent Gastrointestinal Problems with a Proper Diet
A common symptom of anxiety is gastrointestinal issues. When some people become anxious, their stomachs begin to churn or ache.
Some even experience loose bowels. These symptoms can be quite troublesome and inconvenient—especially when you’re overcoming performance anxiety.
A balanced diet can help prevent the exacerbation of gastrointestinal issues that come along with anxiety. On top of that, there are certain diets which also increase the risk of anxiety.
Studies show people and animals on a high-fat diet or a high-sugar diet exhibit more anxiety-like behaviors. These types of diets also have a negative impact on your overall well-being.
So, if you’re dealing with anxiety, you may want to skip fatty and sugary foods. Instead, opt for more fruits and vegetables in your regular diet.
3. Manage Stress by Identifying Your Triggers
Stress is a natural part of life, and everyone experiences it. It’s important to remember that stress isn’t inherently a bad thing.
Stress is the body’s way of responding to threats. So, it’s actually adaptive when it’s a short-term experience because it can help you survive certain challenges.
However, stress can become problematic when it triggers anxiety. Normal stress is supposed to go away once the threat is gone, but anxiety allows it to linger and affect you for longer than it should.
To prevent this, it’s helpful to understand what triggers your stress and fears. If you know what causes it, then you can find ways to manage it.
While other people may try to avoid their triggers altogether, it’s best to gradually confront your fears. If you keep avoiding your triggers, it may become more difficult to manage your anxiety in the long run.
Over time, you may find yourself avoiding more and more triggers. For example, overcoming test anxiety is impossible if you avoid all tests.
You may even end up missing out on great opportunities at school or at work. When you allow yourself to try situations which you would normally avoid, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to manage your fears.
This is also a great way to develop coping mechanisms which you can use in the future. Hopefully, you’ll also discover that it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be.
4. Beat Irrational Thoughts with Logic
One of the hallmarks of anxiety is having irrational thoughts or exaggerated worries about ambiguous situations. These irrational thoughts usually revolve around two central ideas:
- The worst will surely happen.
- I’m helpless and incapable of handling it.
When confronted with these ideas, the best way to battle them is with logic. Challenge your thoughts and think them through.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you’re confronted with irrational fears:
- How bad would it really be if it happened? – If the worst-case scenario did happen, would it really be that catastrophic? It may not be ideal, but would you be truly helpless?
- What are the odds of it really happening? – Does this usually happen? Do you know of many people who experience this worst-case scenario?
- What is the most likely outcome of this scenario? – What are the more realistic outcomes of this situation?
- If the worst does happen, what can I actually do about it? – How would you cope with the worst-case scenario? If the worst-case scenario does happen, what are the first steps you’ll take to move forward?
- What resources do I have to help manage the worst-case scenario? – Do you have any skills, relationships, personal strengths, or other assets which can help you during the worst-case scenario? If you do, what are they?
Big “what if” questions about worst-case scenarios can be overwhelming. Imagine being confronted with questions like: “what if I lose this job?” or “what if this ship sinks?”
It helps to break it down by asking yourself specific questions which require specific answers. After reflecting on these questions, you’ll probably realize that the worst-case scenario is unlikely—but if it does happen, you aren’t completely helpless against it.
5. Neutralize Physical Stress Responses with Relaxation Techniques
Restlessness, rapid heartbeats, shortness of breath, and excessive sweating are normal responses to fear and stress. It becomes problematic when you experience them regularly.
Unfortunately, when you’re prone to anxiety, you may experience these responses more often than you need to. Relaxation techniques can help you manage these physical responses to stress.
Here are a few relaxation techniques you can try:
- Deep abdominal breathing – Take long, slow, deep breaths. With each breath, try to disengage from your worries and fears.
- Body scan – Take a few minutes to mentally examine your body. Focus on the areas of your body that are restless or tense and slowly relax those areas.
- Meditation – Sit down and focus on your breathing. Try to stay in the present moment by setting aside thoughts about the past or future.
- Visualization – Slowly build a mental image of a calming scenario where you can let go of your anxiety. You may also try using listening aids like guided visualization apps or sound machines.
Overcoming fear and anxiety doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time and effort, but you don’t have to do it on your own.
There are trained professionals who can help you on your journey. If you’re interested in meeting mental health practitioners who can help you manage your anxiety, contact LIV Health today.
Do you regularly experience anxiety? What do you do to manage it? Let us know in the comments section below.