Anxiety is one of the most common complaints affecting people of all ages, races and classes, it can be a stressful, exhausting and scary condition. Symptoms include racing thoughts, difficulty breathing, excessive worry, problems sleeping, phobias, fear of “going crazy” and compulsive behaviors. While some level of anxiety is normal, and even part of what motivates us in life, when it interferes with functioning and general happiness, it may be time to get some support.
Here are some things to think about when dealing with anxiety.
Treat yourself, the way you treat others. So often we are quick to provide others empathy, support and comfort when they need it most, but we consider doing the same for ourselves indulgent, selfish or not important. However, when feeling anxious, self-care is especially important. Some ways of taking care of ourselves include…… eating healthy meals, exercising, meditating, getting enough sleep, taking a warm bath, seeking support from friends, reading, baking, etc. Make your own list of things that make you feel cared for and comforted, and try them when you feel anxious or unsettled.
Find out what’s really going on. Oftentimes, anxiety is caused by emotions we are not even aware we have. For example, you may, unconsciously, be worried about your relationship with your partner, children or work stresses, but rather than experiencing feelings associated with that, such as fear, sadness and anger, you experience anxiety about taking an elevator, crowds or seemingly nothing at all. By taking a few moments to identify and write about what’s really going on, you make the underlying feelings conscious and can deal with them, rather than have them unconsciously lurking in the background.
Anxiety can strike unexpectedly at any time. It is normal for anxiety symptoms to appear out of the blue. Having coping skills on hand is important to help manage anxiety versus having it overtake you. Here are a few things to try in the moment:
- Drink a glass of water
- Count backwards from 20 as you walk around the room
- Name 6 colors you see in the room
- Push your hands against the wall or door slowly and notice your muscles pushing.
- Look around the room and pay attention to anything that catches your eye.
- Notice and name the sounds inside and outside.
Anxiety is treatable. While there are successful treatments for anxiety, less than a third of those suffering ask for help. Treatment options include talk therapy, relaxation techniques, medication and coping skills. Asking for help can be difficult, but it can also be the first step in empowering yourself to live the life you want.
Author: Stephanie Macadaan
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles. I love working with couples and individuals to find strength, growth and empowerment through their struggles and challenges.