Three tips to help you cope with your anxiety disorder
It is the most common mental disorder in the UK today - anxiety - with one quarter of us suffering in our lifetimes. Anxiety disorders take normal worrying to another level, where the anxiety becomes a constant and begins to take over our life.
The American Psychological Society of America has this to say on the subject:
“People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat”.
It is easy to get a picture of how overwhelming anxiety can become, perhaps then it is not surprising to learn that sufferers are more likely to have time off work and often feel embarrassed or disempowered to ask for help.
The causes of anxiety are many and varied, but fall broadly into two categories - those to do with your environment and those to do with events that happen. It may be that life events like pregnancy or Christmas make you anxious. It may be illness or loneliness; it may be your financial or work situation. All of these have the power to start the thought processes that lead to anxiety.
Yet there are simple steps that you can take that will help with your anxiety. Steps that when travelled, can start to ease the fear.
Physical activity has been shown repeatedly to make a difference. This can be anything that gets you moving, ideally for around 30 minutes a day. As well as the health benefits for the immune system and the cardio vascular system, it also releases endorphins making us feel better about ourselves. Exercise also helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol. (As ever, if you have health concerns talk to your GP first).
Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. While talking to a professional can (and should) make a difference, there is a huge benefit to be had to someone listening to your concerns. A good friend or family member will happily listen to you and help to support you. Opening up and being heard can make a surprising difference and has been shown to make people feel better although the situation has not changed. Speaking our fears and laying them out helps us be specific. Often the light of reality helps us to diminish, dismiss and control anxious thoughts. If your anxious thoughts are persistent, you should consider professional help.
Breathing exercises can make a big difference with anxiety. You can control your breathing simply and easily. Breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for two and breathe out for six. The whole process should have a relaxed feel about it. Stay in the moment and focus on your breath and your anxiety will slowly subside.
Anxiety can be a very harsh condition to deal with on a daily basis, but with self-care and the help of others, you can overcome it and fully enjoy your life.
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