Coping with Adult Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment, even though the disorders are highly treatable.
Anxiety helps us get out of harm’s way and prepare for important events, and it warns us when we need to take action. But you may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
The term “anxiety disorder” includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.
No one wants to live with anxiety. If you’re starting to feel as though anxiety and panic are starting to make it difficult to maintain emotional and physical stability, it’s time to take action and to learn strategies that will help you cope with that anxiety.
In addition to medication, certain changes in your lifestyle can go a long way toward alleviating anxiety. You should always consider professional help. There are countless skilled therapists and counselors that can train you in new ways to treat you for your stress.
Coping with anxiety is about commitment, so if you don’t make certain changes in your lifestyle chances are your anxiety will recur.
One of the most important things to remember about anxiety coping is that coping actually happens inside of you. There are many strategies to help you cope, but what will eventually help you cure your anxiety forever is your own mental strength. Everyone has it, but it often requires taking care of your body and re-training your mind for how you should react to anxiety and stress.
The following list will help promote better coping and give you an opportunity to control some of the issues that lead to anxiety symptoms:
- Exercise/Physical Activity: Exercise is not just about getting fit. The overwhelming majority of those that experience anxiety do not engage in enough physical activity, and many experts believe that this is one of the issues that causes anxiety. Physical activity improves the immune system, releases calming neurotransmitters (known as endorphins), tires the muscles, and burns away stress hormones. It’s incredibly important for controlling stress and anxiety, and incredibly important for coping.
- Herbal Tools: There are several herbal supplements you can consider to help you cope with anxiety. Chamomile, Kava Kava, Valerian, Passionflower, and St. John’s Wort all produce sedation/relaxation without side effects. Always talk to a doctor though before starting any herbal anxiety treatment.
- Meditation and Yoga: Both meditation and yoga have the potential to improve your ability to cope with stress. They teach healthier breathing, and poor breathing is one of the issues that makes anxiety symptoms worse, especially during anxiety and panic attacks. Many people believe the spiritual qualities of meditation and yoga are also helpful for curing anxiety.
- Positive Thinking: Learning to think positive is also an important step in learning to cope with your anxiety. It may sound a bit “new age,” but the truth is that anxiety really does cause very negative thinking. There are ways to train yourself to think positively, including faking positivity, writing in a positivity journal, and spending time with more positive people. These really will have an impact on your ability to cope with stress.
- Learning to Accept It: It’s also important that you accept your anxiety rather than run away from it. Anxiety may cause you to have fears – but many people also fear anxiety, and that fear can actually make your anxiety works. Learn to talk about it openly, and don’t try to hide when you’re suffering. The more you’re able to find your anxiety less intimidating, the easier it will be for you to overcome it.
- Learn to relax: As well as getting regular exercise, learning how to relax is important. You may find relaxation and breathing exercises helpful, or you may prefer activities such as yoga or Pilates to help you unwind.
- Avoid caffeine: Drinking too much caffeine can make you more anxious than normal. This is because caffeine can disrupt your sleep and also speed up your heartbeat. If you are tired, you are less likely to be able to control your anxious feelings. Avoiding drinks containing caffeine – such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and energy drinks – may help reduce your anxiety levels.
- Avoid smoking and drinking: Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Only drinking alcohol in moderation or stopping smoking if you smoke may help reduce your anxiety.
These things may not cure anxiety on their own, but they will help you learn to control the way anxiety affects you, and you’ll often find that they assist your ability to mentally cope —in some cases enough to cure it completely.
Anxiety is treatable with medication and psychotherapy, and there are many effective strategies to manage symptoms and lead a more enjoyable life.