Effective Tips For How To Beat Anxiety
Anxiety is a typical experience that can serve many beneficial purposes. For example, it acts as your body’s built-in warning system. While the human brain may be nature’s most complex organic machine, it is also prone to malfunction in various ways. If you have trouble processing anxiety, your body may get stuck in a constant state of threat awareness, even when you’re not in danger. Read on to learn more about anxiety, how its symptoms can affect your life, and a variety of practical tips to help you overcome its effects.
What Is Anxiety?
According to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) researchers, anxiety encompasses typical feelings of worry, fear, or threat awareness. Anxiety disorders can occur when you have trouble processing your anxious feelings, leaving your body in fight or flight mode. Anxiety disorders generally involve intense and persistent worry and fear that interferes with your daily life and causes functional impairment in one or more areas of your life, lasting at least six months.
“Many people worry about things such as health, money, or family problems. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For people with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.” — NIMH Overview of Anxiety Disorders
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Anxiety can look different for every person who experiences it—which is nearly 20% of American adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. One person may pace nervously while another reacts inwardly, going quiet and still by all outward appearances. However, there are some common anxiety symptoms mental health professionals use to help diagnose anxiety disorders.
Psychological symptoms such as a sense of impending doom, disorientation, trouble concentrating or “brain fog,” nervousness, difficulty controlling worry, and irritability
Behavioral symptoms like changes to your sleep habits or avoiding people and situations that may cause anxiety
Physical symptoms such as stomachaches and gastrointestinal problems, headaches, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, racing pulse, sweating, trembling, neck pain, and fatigue
Developing Effective Methods To Overcome Anxiety
The most effective step you can take to overcome anxiety’s influence on your life is to work with a qualified therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment for anxiety disorders, and it has a high success rate. Medication is also often part of a comprehensive treatment plan—alongside various lifestyle and perspective changes you can make on your own.
Identify Your Anxiety Triggers
Before you can overcome your reaction to anxiety, you must first identify what is causing your response. If you can pinpoint what is causing your feelings of fear, worry, or unease, you can examine the surrounding situations and find ways to cope with the reaction. Recognizing your triggers later can help you plan for and control your response.
Establish Healthy Sleep Hygiene Practices
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found a close link between inadequate sleep and negative mood shifts, showing that even temporary disturbances in your regular sleep habits can cause drastic changes in attitude and outlook, which are remedied when you resume healthy sleep patterns.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, your sleep hygiene habits can be as important as how well you care for your body or teeth. Good sleep hygiene usually includes the following:
Regular physical activity during the day that helps you sleep at night.
A regular sleep schedule where you sleep and wake at approximately the same time each day so your body knows when to expect rest.
A bedroom that is dark, quiet, and kept at a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
You’ll usually sleep better when you avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine before bed.
Avoidance of your phone and other electronics for at least one hour before sleeping.
Evaluate Whether You’re Facing A Real Threat
When you’re living with an anxiety disorder, it can feel like you’re always facing a threat of some kind because your brain doesn’t process feelings of worry, concern, or danger efficiently. Your body can get stuck in fight or flight mode, leaving you constantly feeling on edge and restless, expecting threats even when none are present. Take the time to evaluate your situation objectively and determine whether you are in danger or experiencing an anxiety symptom.
Assign The Appropriate Level Of Concern To The Situation
If you’re in a dangerous situation, you should be anxious. That is the purpose of the emotion, after all. Anxiety is your body’s early warning system, telling you when to be aware of potential threats. After making your risk assessment, give it some active consideration and assign an appropriate level of concern to the situation, confident that you are making a sound judgment and not letting anxiety control your reactions.
Challenge Anxious Thoughts And Set A Time For Anxiety
Remember that your instinctual reaction isn’t always how you actually feel; anxiety can heavily influence your thought patterns. Increase awareness of your anxiety symptoms and challenge your apprehensive, fearful, or worried thoughts. You can’t immediately control how your brain works, so if you determine your reaction is due to anxiety, set a timer—and when it’s over, move your attention toward more productive thoughts and behaviors.
Balance Fear And Negativity With Mindfulness And Positive Thinking
Personalize your anxiety disorder and visualize it as an external force that lies to you. This practice can help you balance the fear and negative thinking inherent to anxiety disorders with mindful positive thinking. When you feel uneasy and nervous, it can be helpful to remember that your anxiety disorder lies to you and that your first reaction isn’t always the best response to a given situation. Over time, you may be able to retrain your brain to demonstrate more balanced anxiety levels because you allow the emotion less power over your thoughts and behavior.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Many people with anxiety disorders find practicing relaxation techniques helpful in managing anxiety symptoms. Deep breathing exercises can help you calm yourself and focus your attention on something more productive. Yoga offers both physical activity and mindful introspection that can provide a broader perspective.
Maintain A Healthy Diet And Regular Exercise
Exercise is a proven stress reliever that benefits physical and mental health. According to many studies about the link between regular exercise and benefits to mental health, physical activity releases endorphins that help your body relax and reduce tension.
Keep A Journal
Many mental health professionals recommend keeping a daily journal to help you express and track the day’s events and your reactions to them. The act of writing requires you to examine the situation and how it made you feel, which helps you identify and process your emotions. A written record allows you to identify your anxiety triggers over time, along with the coping skills that worked and what didn’t help.
Self-Care Habits To Combat Anxiety
Establish practical, productive morning and bedtime routines.
Practice meditation or other mindfulness techniques to clear your mind.
Take care of your body with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep.
Prioritize your mental health.
When To Reach Out For Help
While some anxiety is a regular and expected part of life, it’s not normal for your worry and fear to interfere with your life to the point that you can’t function. Anxiety is meant to be a transient emotion you experience in response to something, which is then dealt with, and the feeling should fade soon after. If your anxiety is persistent, lingering, and even worsening with time, you may have an anxiety disorder and should speak to your doctor or healthcare provider for an assessment.
How Therapy Can Help You Manage Anxiety Symptoms
If you’re having trouble managing the effects and symptoms of anxiety on your own, consider seeking a therapist's professional support and guidance through an online therapy platform such as BetterHelp. Therapy can help you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors, consciously shifting your habits toward positive choices. With flexible appointment formats through phone, video call, or online chat, teletherapy makes it easy to fit treatment into your busy schedule at home or on the go.
According to a recent study, online CBT can be as effective as anxiety treatments in the traditional face-to-face format. Internet-based interventions are often less expensive and more accessible than in-person treatment, and many patients said the added distance made it easier to open up emotionally. Medical professionals agree that the effectiveness of treatment is increased by attending more sessions, and patients also said receiving therapy at home made it easier to reliably dedicate their time to improving their mental health, showing up to 82% adherence to appointment schedules.
While anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions, it is also one of the most treatable. As overwhelming as your anxiety symptoms can feel, help is available. The tips presented in this article may help you manage your anxiety symptoms and show how therapy is vital to a comprehensive anxiety treatment plan.
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