Anxiety can be a blessing and a curse. It can either push you forward or become so debilitating, to the point where you’re stuck in pit of negative emotions. This in turn becomes a cycle of thoughts that induce panic, fear, and worry.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, every year. Yet, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
While most seek professional treatment such as psychotherapy and medication, there are effective strategies you can use daily to manage symptoms of anxiety. Whether you suffer from a diagnosable anxiety disorder or experience the occasional anxiety, anxiety can find its way to you.
Here are 4 strategies to help ease anxiety in your daily life:
1. Confront your anxiety: Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious before taking a test or before making an important decision. Yet for people who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder the symptoms lasts longer in duration and can get worse over time. Facing your anxiety head on can help you identify the common characteristics you experience such as fear of losing control, feelings of restlessness, irritability, irrational fears, perfectionism, or relying on approval from others. By exploring these you gain a better understanding on how they affect your mental health and livelihood.
2. Create structure: Idle time is the recipe for overthinking, obsessing, and replaying negative scenarios in your mind. Creating more structure in your life will allow you to focus on productivity instead of worrying about trivial things. While working with my clients who struggle with anxiety, I encourage them to utilize planners (scheduling) and make to-do lists to plan out their daily activities. This helps them create healthy habits and also maintain a sense of control.
3. Get rid of distorted thoughts: Reframe, Reframe, and Reframe some more. Identify your negative thought patterns and try to replace the thoughts with something more balanced (positive). The key is to continue practicing and over time your thoughts will change. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is one type of psychotherapy that can help people with anxiety disorders. It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. I use this modality often with my clients and usually assign homework for them to complete between sessions.
4. Relinquish Control: In a perfect world, we’d be able to control the narrative of our lives and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, we aren’t in control and we should accept that. By relinquishing control we embrace how life unfolds and take things as they come. For individuals with anxiety, they’re living on edge often bracing themselves for potential danger. Navigating through these emotions creates psychological and physical stress.
HOTMTip: Remember – Although we can’t control our lives, we can control our reactions!
Bonus Tip: Practice Yoga: Yoga can help manage symptoms of anxiety by calming your mind and your body. Try focusing on your breathing for a calming/soothing effect, recite a mantra/inspirational quote, gentle poses, and deep stretching can release tension in the body.