Have you ever been in a situation that brought on sweats, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath? You probably weren’t having a heart attack but an anxiety attack. If you suffer from anxiety disorders, learning to manage it is the first step to overcoming it. I’ve written about how I recently had an anxiety or panic attack and how scary it was for me. I can’t say I have an anxiety disorder but I can tell you I have family and friends that do and my heart goes out them. I’m not a doctor or expert but these tips are based on what I’ve learned for myself and what I’ve told is helpful from friends and family. If you suffer from anxiety please share your own personal tips and experiences to help others.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is characterized as extreme reactions to fearful situations. When someone follows you into a dark alley, those anxious feelings of a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms gives way to heightened senses and a rush of adrenalin that can save your life. This is the fight or flight syndrome. I’m sure you know this well, I’ve certainly had the sweaty palms, racing heart and anxious feelings!
In the case of frequent anxiety, the fearful feelings are dread of a particular situation and not the situation itself. Getting caught in traffic can cause an anxiety attack over what might happen when you get to work late. Starting a new job can bring on anxiety attacks. You don’t know anyone and fear of that unknown can send you into a panic.
Everyone experiences panic or anxiety in small ways. Like the fight or flight example, it can save your life. In new situations, we get panicky but when the outcome we fear fails to materialize, the anxiety stops. For someone with chronic anxiety, this is not the case.
Every situation that brings anxiety is not life-threatening. More than likely it is an extremely stressful situation that has brought on the anxiety as a way of dealing with it. Unchecked anxiety of this type can lead to depression. I’ve personally had friends and family suffer, like I’ve mentioned and when they reached out for help life was so much better for them!
Tips for those Suffering with Anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety attacks on occasion or a more frequent anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to keep your anxiety under control or in my case I use these tips to help with just minor anxiety issues and hopefully these will help you too!
- See a professional. This is always a good first step. Self-diagnosis of any type of physical or mental condition is unwise and can be dangerous. A professional psychologist can help you understand your anxiety and prescribe medication or other effective techniques. I highly suggest doing this if you think you have an issue, your physician can be very helpful in guiding you through next steps.
- Get a good night’s sleep. During the sleep cycle, your body repairs itself. You feel more rested after several hours of restorative sleep, reaching the REM stage. Most people need eight hours a night which varies within an hour or two each way. When I’m well rested I can react better to situations and it really helps overall with my quality of work and my mood.
- Exercise on a consistent basis. Exercise helps you to use oxygen more efficiently. It helps to get more oxygen to the brain. It also increases focus which may help you see solutions to problems rather than simply worrying about them. When I go for my long walks my brain clears itself, I can think and focus. It is very helpful and when I don’t exercise I can feel the difference mentally as well as physically.
- Manage the worry. When you feel your pulse start to quicken, count backwards from ten and take very deep breaths. As you count, focus on the situation. What has actually happened? Resist the urge to read anything more into the situation. A good friend suggested taking deep breaths throughout the day and I found this to be a very useful tip.
- Find some relaxing activities. Stress can rob you of your energy. On a regular basis, do something you like such as gardening, painting, reading or listening to music. For me it is reading and going for long walks by myself.
- Don’t use alcohol. You might think that the glass of wine is relaxing your tension but alcohol is a depressant. In anxious situations you could rely too heavily on it and gain another problem in the process. I know, I know it is hard to resist on some evenings but if I calm my nerves with a glass of wine I actually end up feeling worse. What about you?
Anxiety can come into your life at any time. It’s normal. When the anxiety becomes frequent you could be at risk for more serious conditions. If you feel your anxiety is starting to take over your life or increasingly causing you problems, seek professional help immediately. There is no need to suffer this terrible condition in silence and I’ve seen way too many friends and family members suffer.
Do you suffer from anxiety issues? What have you done about it or what tips do you have for others?