Developing techniques to deal with anxiety is not only good for your mental health, it’s good for your overall well-being. Here I will be defining anxiety and providing 7 best ways to reduce anxiety with my story. I’ve been there and I want to help you. In my earlier years I’ve known people that suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, but I couldn’t comprehend what it was and why these people would freak out. The notion I had was that these individuals weren’t strong and that they were just making excuses to avoid various situations. However, my perspective changed once I experienced my first anxiety attack 2 years ago, which was a blessing in disguise for me. It literally happened while I was driving on the highway and it crippled me with fear for almost a year. So much that I wasn’t able to drive long distance, or even on the highway, especially by myself.
I was very aware of what my trigger was. A year prior, 2014 to be exact, I had a lot of personal, work, school and more life related things going on. But what really pushed me over the edge was a car accident that I was in. Seeing the state of the other parties in their vehicle had me break down in tears as I made the 911 call – It was a flash of a life and death moment for me. It took a while for me to mentally process the incident and how deeply it affected me because being a black woman and Caribbean at that we are taught to be strong and toughen up through everything. It was a pivotal moment in my life. I realized how precious life is and how much we don’t take the time to enjoy and live in every moment. Not many people are self-aware to realize what their triggers and cause of anxiety is; nonetheless, understand what anxiety is. I will outline my perspective and researched definition of anxiety, causes, coping techniques and diet to help you overcome this condition.
Please note that I am not an expert and the information here is strictly my views and opinions. If you suffer from a severe case of anxiety please see a licensed professional.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
There are different types of anxiety – social anxiety, panic and anxiety attacks, phobia or fear. What is anxiety? It is the fear or worry about future uncertainties, or future events. When you have a lot of things going on in your life it can become overwhelming, especially when you begin to think about what the future or that specific moment’s outcome will be. The body’s immune response to this feeling is an increased heart rate, flushness of the face, light headiness and shakiness to name a few. It’s almost like an outer body experience where you momentarily become excessively reactive or non-reactive to a current situation or event that is a trigger. The best way to explain is that it’s a fight, flight, or freeze response. Understanding the facts and defining anxiety is the first step to coping and overcoming the symptoms. Don’t worry, you’re completely normal. Everyone has experienced anxiety or had symptoms of being anxious a few times in their life.
CAUSE AND TRIGGERS
Usually revisiting, or encountering a similar situation reminiscent a tragic event, toxic relationships, stress, juggling multiple tasks and being in unfamiliar situations can be triggers. Identifying the cause and developing coping techniques will not only alleviate anxiety symptoms it will prevent you from having an episode. We encounter people on a daily basis and dealing with different personalities and characteristic in these individuals may not be healthy for you. Knowing that it’s ok to withdraw, or avoid these types of relationship is ok for you to do. Your health and mental well-being is more important than being involved in a situation or relationship that doesn’t help to make you better.
Enforcing various coping techniques will uplift you to new heights in your daily life. It will also provide you with a routine and train your mind to accept a positive life-changing habit. Here are 7 strategies that may help to alleviate anxiety.
Confide in someone
Talking to a professional, or a friend that you can trust when you’re feeling overwhelmed is a great way to relieve mental stress. They might be able to help you to rationalize your thoughts and give you peace of mind.
If you are not comfortable sharing or verbalizing your feelings, journaling is a great outlet to release all your thoughts and emotions. For some people it brings solace to their mind.
This allows you to be more in tuned with your body and mind. It teaches you how to live more in the moment. The breathing that is involved in meditation also helps to slow your heart rate and relaxes you.
Listening to Music
Good old music. It can have a positive effect on our emotion, depending on the genre. I’m sure you agree. It’s considered an effective intervention tool for stress and anxiety management. When you hear your favourite song or a soothing genre of music, the body’s physical and emotional response is to either to sing, or relax.
Getting your adrenaline pumping is a great way to mentally distract you from your thoughts. Exercising (eg. running) increases your cortisol level that is responsible for your stress hormones. Your body begins to produce good stress hormones that will also train your body how to handle anxiety episodes.
Walking or sitting near water helps to bring a sense of healing and calming to the mind and body. Water is transformational and symbolizes rebirth. The soothing sound opens you up to be balanced and have clarity.
When you are not getting enough sleep combined with daily stresses this too can trigger anxiety. Getting the daily recommended 7-8 hours of sleeps per night is not only good for your health, helps to boost your mood and energy.
These are some of the many techniques and strategies that I have used to overcome my anxiety and it does help. Everyone is different in terms of what method works best for them. Either way, it’s worth a try. It’s important to take it one day at a time. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones as it is a step toward healing. Knowing your triggers saves you from physical and mental exhaustion. “To whom much is given, much is expected”. There is definitely some truth to this saying that we as individuals are never given more in life than we can handle.
What are some strategies or techniques you’ve used to relieve your anxiety or anxiousness?