Anxiety sucks. It drains your energy, your time, your sense of security, and more—and finding methods of dealing with it can be difficult, because what works for one person does not necessarily work for everybody. There is a difference between generalized anxiety disorder and anxiety caused by trauma, so for the purposes of this article, we will focus mostly on the former. If you suffer from anxiety, here are a few pieces of advice for managing your worries and keeping your mind on the track you want to:
Don’t fight it
Many people assume that they need to combat their anxiety in order to make it go away. One member of the Buzzfeed community notes that telling yourself that your thoughts are ridiculous or that you do not deserve to feel anxious will only make it worse. Instead, acknowledge your feelings, and remember it’s okay to feel the way you do—just keep in mind that it’s not your fault, and save yourself the energy of grappling with thoughts that are your disorder’s, not your “own.”
Identify your triggers
Whenever your anxious thoughts arise or feel particularly extreme, try to identify what—if anything—is exacerbating them. Recall other times and places when your anxiety was at its worst. Making a note of what induces your anxiety can help put your thoughts into perspective. For instance, if social media is a source of stress for you, it might be time to minimize your screen time. If you need social media for work, you can use resources like hashtagsforlikes to make your job easier. Most things you will not be able to avoid, but you can work on preparing yourself better for next time you encounter a trigger.
Pay attention to your diet
You’ve probably heard “eat healthy food” a million times regarding anxiety, and it’s true—junk food won’t do you any favors. You should pay attention to your diet in other ways, though. Some people have sensitive stomachs due to anxiety, which reduces their appetite. Instead of simply deciding not to eat at all, though (you could go into hypoglycemic shock), space the food you eat in smaller portions throughout the day instead of eating large meals. It’s also advisable to cut back on your caffeine intake; caffeine, such as from soda, excites your central nervous system and depletes other minerals and vitamins from your diet.
Practice different techniques
There are also a variety of calming techniques you can use, some of which are also applicable to PTSD anxiety.
Breathing: Belly-breathing is a popular method of calming down—and you can do it whenever you need to. Sit somewhere (as comfortably as you can make yourself), close your eyes, and focus on the air flowing in and out of your lungs, preferably through your nostrils. Anxieties.com provides a thorough guide to different steps and practices that make conscious breathing more effective.
Meditation: Meditation is another practice that deserves more recognition for its practicality for alleviating anxiety. According to Headspace, “Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate emotions. But research shows that a consistent medication practice reprograms neural pathways in the brain and, therefore, improves our ability to regulate emotions.” Headspace also provides an abundance of advice regarding meditation for anxiety.
EDMR: EMDR, an acronym for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is a kind of psychotherapy that is becoming an increasingly common treatment for panic disorders. Eye movements (such as following flowing motions), hand tapping, and audio stimulation can help unblock emotional processes and allow the brain to begin healing from trauma. Head to Very Well Mind for more information.
Grounding: There are also numerous ways of “grounding,” which you can use to calm yourself down quickly. Calling a friend, using your voice (such as when you are alone), counting objects in your surroundings, identifying different sounds, and writing down things that make you think about other subjects are all examples of practices that bring you back to reality by distracting you from your anxiety. BetterHelp.com lists other possibilities (you can encourage other people to practice grounding techniques as well, such as if you are dating someone with depression or anxiety).
You should talk to your doctor about taking the best medications available, but you can also approach them with the idea of taking CBD. Cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis that boasts numerous health benefits, including alleviating anxiety, but without the intoxicant effects of THC.
Talk with a therapist
One of the best and most important things you can do is speak with a therapist. A licensed expert can help you devise strategies for handling your emotions, prescribe appropriate medications, talk you through your feelings, and help you process your emotions.
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