Anxiety – steps to help you cope
We have all experienced anxiety to some degree in our lives. It is that unpleasant dread that washes over you when anticipating the consequences of and action, actions or events. Sometimes its intensity is so great as to make us recoil from being in situations where it is a possibility. If someone is anxious about dogs they may avoid going to the park etc.
Why do we have anxiety?
Anxiety is an important biological system. It helps prepare our bodies for action when we feel threatened. You may have heard of the “fight or flight” response and anxiety drives this, releasing hormones such as adrenaline to help you run from attackers in dark alleys, get out of burning buildings and other threats to your person. Yet if there is nothing to be done, then there is nothing to use up the pent up energy created. When this state becomes the norm then it becomes hard to deal with everyday life. Almost anything can trigger a reaction. Some of the attacks may make you feel out of control or in a panic.
Yet you can gain control of your anxiety. You can bring it under your control. You can turn down the sensitivity again.
Practical steps you can take
A simple first step is acknowledging your anxiety. By acknowledging it you are open to the possibility that some of the symptoms might be anxiety based rather than something more serious. You are also accepting that you know what the problem might be and could (if you choose) take action. It is about accepting that part of you that is anxious.
There are many practices which can help you to feel calmer and you can use them. Practices like meditation, mindfulness and gentle exercise have all been shown to help. At the same time it is worth mentioning that while alcohol and drugs, may seem to help in the short term, they do just the opposite in the longer term. Be gentle with yourself while you deal with your problems.
Learn to challenge unhelpful thoughts by examining them. Look at the facts that support the unhelpful thought and notice facts that undermine it. Remember that feelings are not facts. Now is there a less extreme thought that better fits the facts. Usually you will find that this helps to lower your anxiety.
Taking time for yourself is a great way of lowering your stress. Remember that you need to look after yourself if you are going to fight the stress and that means in addition to your physical health needs, taking time to do things that make you calm and make you happy so that the level of you anxiety gets a chance to fall. So go for a swim, a walk, a run or read a book, talk with friends, do whatever works for you and do it regularly. It is important that you are healthy so that you can help yourself and others.
Finally if all this seems a bit daunting, perhaps it is making you anxious. You could choose to see a counsellor. They will work with you to help you learn to control your anxiety. They will help you to be able to make the changes you need to make improvements to get back to the person you want to be.
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