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Many people worldwide are affected by anxiety. The uncertainty of the world’s current affairs means that we may all need some coping mechanisms for anxiety.
The current difficulties of the world have surely heightened many people’s anxiety, and that’s understandable. I have experienced anxiety and from my experience, it is both mentally and physically draining.
What Is Anxiety?
It’s normal to feel fear or nervousness at the prospect of facing certain life events, for example, a job interview, or financial difficulties.
Anxiety is a persistent feeling of unease, fright, worry, or fear, and it can be mild or severe.
Some of the signs of anxiety include excessive sweating, trembling, breathing rapidly, panicking, having an increased heart rate and the heart pounding.
There are different types of anxiety disorders. Examples of anxiety disorders include social anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder.
What Triggers Anxiety?
Anxiety can be triggered by a number of factors. The most obvious reason may be a person experiencing traumatic life events and being prone to anxiety.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a person may be more prone to anxiety disorders if their biological relative has a history of anxiety.
Some people could experience anxiety as a result of their medical conditions.
Examples of medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include heart disease, drug misuse or withdrawal, alcohol withdrawn, and rare tumours.
Usually, the first point of call may be medication for some people, however, below are some alternative ways to cope with anxiety.
Coping Mechanisms For Anxiety
Deep breathing aids in a feeling of relaxation and evidence has shown that it helps relieve anxiety.
Deep breathing causes our lungs to fill with air and our lower bellies rise. This encourages gas exchange, which is the transfer of oxygen from our lungs into our bloodstream, and the elimination of carbon dioxide from our bloodstream into our lungs.
Deep breathing is beneficial for anxiety because it increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and promotes a state of calmness.
A simple yet effective method of breathing is to sit in a quiet place and breathe in through your nose for four seconds, holding for seven seconds, and breathing out through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this up to four times.
Soak In a Warm Bath
Raising the body’s temperature helps the muscles relax and can boost your mood.
Doing this at night can help regulate our circadian rhythm, which would lead to better sleep patterns.
I was advised to soak in a warm bath when I was experiencing anxiety. I remember as soon as I entered the warm bath, I would sweat and it seemed like when sweat left my body, so did my anxiety.
If you choose to soak in the bath, you could add some lavender oil, to make for a soothing and relaxing bath.
Go For Walks
Walking has several benefits for anxiety. It gets the body moving and depending on how fast you walk, it could raise your heart rate.
Walking, like other exercise uses up energy in the body which helps to alleviate anxiety.
It also provides a distraction from your thoughts. The act of walking, your feet touching the ground, the feel of the breeze, and the sights around you, all act as distractions.
Walking is beneficial for anxiety, and if you’re able, you could also do more vigorous exercise.
Physical activities produce endorphins, which is a natural pain killer. Exercise also reduces fatigue, improves alertness and concentration, and enhances overall cognitive function.
Scientists have found also, that regular aerobic exercise helps to relieve tension, stabilises the mood, improves self-esteem, and improves sleep. Improving sleep alone can have tremendous benefits for enhancing the mood and relieving anxiety.
Some people may begin to notice anti-anxiety effects after just five minutes of exercise.
Anxiety is the constant feeling of worry and fear, and it may seem impossible to think positively in the midst of feeling anxious. However, one study found that those with Generalised Anxiety Disorder could be trained to view the outcomes of their worry in a more positive light, than focus on negative possibilities.
Redirecting your worried thoughts to positive imagery or positive words can have beneficial effects and significantly reduce worry.
If you pay attention to the darkness, you will never find the light – Unknown
The benefits of practising gratitude cannot be quantified. Being grateful can lead to more positive emotions, better sleep, less stress, and even a stronger immune system. Science tells us that gratitude is good for us.
It is not necessary to wait for monumental achievements before expressing gratitude. Being grateful for the little things in life – the small wins – will help you to notice other positive things to be grateful for.
Excessive worry about the future can mean that you don’t stay calm, and appreciate the positive things going on around you.
Don’t worry about tomorrow, just take care of today.
Yesterday has passed and tomorrow is not yet here, so live in the moment. That’s the principle of mindfulness in a nutshell.
This may be a challenge at first but it’s possible. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the activity you are doing now, and not being eager or anxious about doing the next thing.
It also involves becoming more aware of the present moment, enjoying the world around us more and understanding ourselves better.
Mindfulness has been shown to improve anxiety. It is, however, more suitable as a relapse prevention activity than one to be used in the acute phase of anxiety.
Write A Journal
Journaling is useful for helping you get your thoughts out of your head and onto your paper (or desktop, or your phone – wherever you like really!).
Writing down your thoughts can help you work through those feelings that often get you or keep you anxious.
The best way to journal, to alleviate anxiety and other negative feelings, is to simply write down what is on your mind. Free-flowing writing is beneficial because it can help you feel lighter, happier, and more relaxed.
Once you’ve identified and written what the problems are, write down potential solutions to those problems. Then you can choose the most practical solutions for what is making you anxious.
You can journal at any time of the day. Some people swear by writing in their journals in the morning. Some prefer writing at night before bed. This is because it helps them offload their negative thoughts and prepares them for a good night’s sleep.
When I write in my journal, I offload my negative thoughts. In my journal, I also write my future dreams and aspirations as well as the things I’m grateful for.
Your journal is yours to write what you wish in. There are many possibilities, so give it a go.
Active Problem Solving
Problem-solving is an evidence-based intervention for dealing with anxiety. It works by tackling your problems one at a time and developing specific action.
When someone is going through anxiety, it may seem ideal to ignore the problems that cause anxiety. For example, someone may be tempted to ignore their bills, and for a while, this may alleviate anxiety.
However, in the long run, those bills would compound and could lead to worse consequences. This could be the case for other problems that may cause anxiety and not just bills.
Problem solving requires identifying one problem at a time, listing all the possible solutions for that problem, and identifying the pros and cons of each of the listed solutions.
Next thing would be to write down an action plan of the things that would be done to address the identified problem. It would be more effective and thorough to include who, what, why, when, where and how in the solutions.
It’s no news that, ahem, the news can be filled with bad, erm, news, which can increase anxiety😕.
I get that it’s important to have information about what’s going on in the world around us, but too much negative information overload does nothing for our mental health.
We have been faced with a global health issue, and the fear that the daily news has imposed on us can be insane.
To alleviate anxiety, limit your consumption of the news to about 15 or 30 minutes and be strict with your limits.
Another media that needs to be limited from time to time is the social kind.
The relationship between social media and people’s mental health, most especially young people, has gathered a significant amount of attention in recent years.
Scrolling through people’s feeds and seeing luxurious clothing and accessories can leave a feeling of anxiety. Never mind that many of the posts have probably been touched up by one or more of the number of photo editing apps available out there.
Another thing that could cause anxiety or some other detriment to mental health is the failure of gratification that could be experienced from not seeing ‘likes’ or ‘follows’.
Failure to see ‘likes’ or any interaction on status update may lead to a person constantly refreshing their screen, in the hope of seeing ‘likes’. Anticipating ‘likes’ and interaction on social media could worsen anxiety.
A periodic fast from social media would do your mental health a lot of good. Only you can decide how much of a social media fast you need.
I don’t know about you but when I don’t get enough sleep my body aches the next day. Sometimes I’m even a bit cranky. Okay, maybe a lot cranky!
Sleep and anxiety have a sort of cyclical relationship – the less sleep you get, the more likely you are to feel anxious, and if you are feeling anxious, the less likely you are to sleep!
Sleep deprivation causes more problems than just increasing feelings of anxiety. In addition to anxiety and mood disorders, those who are sleep deprived are at risk for other health problems.
To avoid a number of health issues, get an adequate amount of sleep as this would recharge your brain. This, in turn, would improve your focus, concentration, and lift your mood.
Have a Morning Routine
Who am I to tell you to have a morning routine? The routine I created for myself was more or less chucked out of the window a few weeks into the world health frenzy!
Nevertheless, I’m hopeful that when things return to normal I’ll be back on track!
In your morning routine you can decide to do whatever will relax you and gently ease you into the day. For example, you could write in your journal, read a book, burn some aromatic candles, or recite affirmations. It’s really up to you.
Having a morning routine is useful because it makes it easier to banish negative, or anxious thoughts regarding the day when you know how the day will go.
Eating foods without much nutritional value has been shown to have a negative effect on mental health. Junk food can lead to Dementia by causing high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can disrupt the blood supply to the brain.
Poor diet has a likely causal link to depression. The study does not conclusively show that eating lots of junk food causes depression per se. However, related lifestyle factors – such as being less active – could contribute to the link between eating junk food and developing depression.
There may not be a definitive reason why eating junk food is linked to depression, but there has been some research into the benefits of eating certain types of foods for improved mental health.
Eating what is described as a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to be beneficial for mental health. This type of diet is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, herbs, nuts and pulses. In this diet, moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, seafood and eggs are consumed, and red meat is eaten sparingly.
Other foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts, and foods contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. They are anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory, which is good for brain health.
Have a Support Group
Talking to people going through similar experiences can help you with not feeling alone in your situation. You can also share your experiences and possible interventions that help you, which may also help someone else.
There are a number of ways to find support groups:
You could find a support group through the Mind support group finder.
Mind also runs an online support community Elefriends, which is open to anyone over 18. Very soon, Elefriends will be replaced with a similar service called ‘Side by Side‘, so be on the lookout.
You may visit Mind’s website for a comprehensive list of other organisations that could help😊.
You could also speak with a therapist. Free psychological therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are available through the National Health Service.
Connect With Friends And Family
Support from friends and family can be very helpful if you are experiencing anxiety.
You may feel like you don’t want to burden your loved ones, but telling them your feelings may be effective for your healing.
Discussing your worries with your family members could also offer you some options you may not have considered before.
It may take some time for these coping mechanisms to become effective, and not every tool will work for everyone. However, it is important to allow enough time for them to become effective.
If you have anxiety, you are not alone. Hopefully some of these coping mechanisms will help you.
Which one will you start doing? Do you have any other coping mechanisms for anxiety you can recommend?
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- Strategies to find inner peace Part One
- Strategies to find inner peace Part Two
Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share with a friend, and stay uplifted.