If you’ve ever had anxiety for just a day or chronically, you know how awful it feels. A cold sweat, feelings of unease and nervousness that something terrible is about to happen. It can make you feel crazy because you know you are overreacting to something. It can take control of all your senses and you’re overwhelmed with an anxious feeling that makes you think you may be having a heart attack.
There are power tools that prevent anxiety from taking over your moments, days, and life. Things you can do before you even leave the house can set you up for a successful day of serenity. When you learn how to observe your moments, you can prevent an onset of anxiety before it even begins. You will give yourself extra confidence because you know you can deal with anything.
1. Meditation When You Wake Up
I noticed recently that Life Magazine had a special edition specifically on Mindfulness and what it means. It is clear that the key to our peace and happiness as humans is to practice being mindful. This includes looking at what you have and being grateful to just experiencing what it is to be in your own body. Mindfulness meditation has shown to ease psychologic stress like pain and depression but also anxiety. 1The finding of these studies was published in JAMA Internal Medicine Journal.2
The studies were based on people who suffer from general anxiety disorder which includes worries that are hard to control, insomnia, and irritability. When they put them through a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, they improved through meditation more than the group who didn’t do meditation.
2. Yoga At Lunchtime, Before Or After Work
A study in 2009 by the Health Department of Harvard Medical School documented the importance of how yoga affects the mind against many mood disorders, including anxiety.3
The studies have revealed that all kinds of yoga can reduce the impact of over-the-top stress responses. This can help stave off anxiety and depression. Health professionals explain that yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques which include exercise and having fun with your friends.
The study also said that yoga seems to modulate stress response systems as it reduces anxiety and stress. Yoga reduces the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and makes it easier to breathe which all helps in reducing anxiety. There is evidence that yoga can assist the heart rate variability which helps the body respond to stress more easily.
3. Breathing Exercises
Breathing deeply can be done constantly throughout the day, easing the body from stress which could otherwise build up through the day. Quite simply, if you feel stress coming on, take a deep breath, and hold it for few seconds, then breathe out. You may have noticed your body wants to do that anyway through certain experiences or times of the day. The great big sigh you don’t consciously take is your body’s way of telling you it needs more oxygen.
When you breathe deeply, you reduce anxiety because you activate the body’s relaxation response. The body can go from the fight-or-flight response to the relaxed response quickly. A study was done in Barcelona Spain on the “efficacy of the controlled breathing therapy on stress: biological correlates.” Through management breathing control therapy, the study shows that students who did this showed a decrease in cortisol (also known as public health enemy #1) which is what causes stress in the body.
4. Question What You Are Thinking
Your brain may be playing tricks on you which could be part of the reason you’re suffering from anxiety. The mind can make you believe you’re going to die when you’re in the middle of a panic attack. When you can calm down during a bout of anxiety through the process of breathing and being mindful, you can begin to relax and let the anxiety pass.
Kelli Hyland, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has seen patients suffer from panic attacks and the symptoms look the same as someone dying. Knowing that your mind is playing tricks with you at this moment will allow you to go overtop of the problem and it will be done before you know it. Dr. Hyland suggests that you remove the shame, guilt, pressure, and responsibility to fix or judge yourself. Be kind to yourself and nurture yourself.
5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
While there are many studies being done on why anxiety occurs, it is a state of mind which makes it difficult to pinpoint. Many doctors believe that cognitive behavior therapy can help anxiety disorders through the perspective on behaviors. Psychotherapy has been shown as a way to treat anxiety disorder. Talk therapy techniques are found to be more effective than drugs that may try to alter the chemistry of the body to negate anxiety.
Anxiety is common with 18% of U.S. adults suffering from it, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. There are many different types of anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder is what the majority of people suffer from. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder also sit in the same category. The one therapy umbrella that is making a change no matter what type of anxiety you suffer from and that is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. The American Psychological Center highly recommends seeing a therapist once a week.4Through the therapy, you will have a chance to release some of the issues that are causing anxiety. You also learn how to use the tools as described above in-depth.
It may take some time to learn how to manage anxiety on a daily basis but it can be done through conscious effort, taking care of yourself, and perhaps seeking professional help when necessary. Know that you’re not alone in your struggles and that it will pass as soon as you start taking the steps to heal your mind.
|↑1||Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress. Harvard Health Publications|
|↑2||Goyal, Madhav, Sonal Singh, Erica MS Sibinga, Neda F. Gould, Anastasia Rowland-Seymour, Ritu Sharma, Zackary Berger et al. “Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” JAMA internal medicine 174, no. 3 (2014): 357-368.|
|↑3||Yoga for anxiety and depression.Harvard Health Publications|
|↑4||Beyond Worry: How Psychologists Help With Anxiety Disorders.American Psychological Association|