In this brief guide, we are going to discuss how to overcome anxiety. This will include a list of things to do when you are feeling anxious.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety may occur when you are afraid or nervous about something. It may feel like an overwhelming fear.
You may have anxiety if you are experiencing any of the below:
- You feel frozen to the spot
- You can’t eat
- You have hot and cold sweats
- You get a dry mouth
- You get very tense muscles
- You sweat a lot
- Your stomach churns or your bowels feel loose
- Your heart beats very fast – maybe it feels irregular
- You breathe very fast
- Your muscles feel weak
- You find it hard to concentrate on anything else
- You feel dizzy
How to overcome anxiety
There are various ways to overcome anxiety, we will list a few proven ways to overcome anxiety below:
A very good way to overcome anxiety is by meditating. Meditating allows us to almost fall into a trance-like atmosphere where we can think much clearer, analyse the reasons why we are anxious, calm our nerves, dump out any negative energy, attract positive energy and plan our approach to deal with our anxiety. You can meditate wherever you are and it is a good way to deal with panic attacks etc
The 15-minute plan
Another important way to overcome anxiety is to use the 15-minute plan and try and overcome the anxiety you are facing by essentially disregarding it and ignoring it. With the 15 minute plan, you essentially find things and do things to distract you. This could be going for a walk, cooking, watching a movie, speaking with a friend etc.
This plan, of course, doesn’t help you get rid of your anxiety, it just defers it and the root causes of your anxiety will still remain but it is a short term win for the moment.
Imagine the worse
Another very unusual way to overcome anxiety is by thinking about the worst that can possibly happen. This is used as a way to chase the fear that you have by almost belittling it. If the worst that could happen would be you having a heart attack or falling or whatever then imagine this and see if your anxiety is still around. If this doesn’t work for you then, of course, don’t try it too often.
Another important way to overcome anxiety is to ensure you control your breathing. Your breathing is very important as it can escalate or deescalate your level of anxiety. Use your breathing to control how anxious you are feeling by doing very simple breathing exercises.
The HFNE app has a specific tool which allows you to do breathing exercises which help regulate and control your breathing.
Challenge negative thoughts
Sometimes it is important for us to challenge the very difficult and pointless fearful thoughts which we are having. This is because sometimes our thoughts can be so unreasonable and almost impossible to imagine. For example, someone who gets anxious because they are scared of using the stairs because they will collapse. Thinking about it and saying to yourself, what proof is there of stairs randomly collapsing may help you overcome your anxiety.
Stress balls are one of the good ways to overcome anxiety. You can get a cheap stress ball from Amazon and this may allow you to control your nerves when you are getting anxious. Stress balls are also very good as they can offer relative ease with little effort.
Best stress balls:
Some of the best stress balls are:
- 21 STRONG Grip Balls.
- PBPBOX Hand Therapy Ball.
- InsidersPro Stress Relief Ball.
- Elbo Star Hand Therapy Stress Ball
Another way to overcome anxiety is to practice the steps which will prevent you from being anxious. Some people practise visualisation techniques which allow them to visualise where they want to be and almost take themselves to be in those places, to the point where they can smell, feel and almost see things around them differently. This tends to be a very good coping mechanism.
Some other people may have coping techniques such as pinching themselves or rubbing their fingers. If you don’t know what your coping technique may be helpful to you then the next time you feel anxious, try a few things and see which one works out the best for you and then stick with it as your method of overcoming anxiety.
Destress your environment
Another very useful way to overcome anxiety is to destress your environment so you don’t feel anxious. This means avoiding people and things which may make you anxious. If tight places make you anxious then avoiding the lift in your workplace will help you reduce the amount of anxiety you have and may eventually help you overcome anxiety.
Anti-anxiety medication such as citalopram and escitalopram are very good when it comes to helping you overcome anxiety. These are antidepressants that can really help you reduce the amount of anxiety you are experiencing. Antidepressants should never be self-prescribed and you should not stop taking your anxiety medication without informing your doctor first. Anxiety medication is one of the sure-fire ways to overcome anxiety.
Talk about it
Another way which you can use to overcome anxiety is by talking about it. You can talk about it to your friends, to your family, to your counsellor to your doctor and hopefully, they will offer you useful guidance and support on how unrealistic the things you are worrying about truly are.
Face your fears
Another way a lot of people overcome their anxiety is by facing their fears. If you are scared of heights then maybe doing a skydive may help you get rid of these fears. Confronting your fears may be a great way to overcome your anxiety and find a new you but at the same time, it could worsen your anxieties if you don’t fully confront your fears and let them over power you in your attempt to confront them.
Seek counselling to overcome anxiety
A very good way to overcome anxiety is by seeking counselling. Sometimes we have a variety of things which cause us to be anxious and there is no reason why we may be able to identify all of these things by ourselves. It is possible that we may know why we are anxious or we may be able to self diagnose ourselves but there is no reason why we should assume that we know more than a trained counsellor. Sometimes the human mind creates a lot of bias and does not allow us to fully understand what causes us to be anxious or what will allow us to find whatever we need to overcome anxiety.
Counselling may be through a variety of techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Depending on how serious your issues are counselling may last from a few weeks to a few years before you begin to feel like you have finally overcome anxiety
Go back to basics to overcome anxiety
A lot of people overcomplicate things by trying to hard to get rid of their fear and anxiety that they end up causing more problems and issues for themselves. People will usually resort to drinking, taking drugs and other types of behaviour as a means of getting rid of anxiety.
Sometimes all they really needed was to just have their 3 meals a day, eat lots of vegetables, drink lots of water and get a good night’s rest.
Reward yourself when you beat anxiety
Whenever you overcome your fears and anxiety you should always reward yourself with whatever you feel is necessary. This could be a massage, a night out, a holiday, going to a restaurant, a new bag or whatever. Rewarding yourself builds a nice structure in your head and allows you to excel more in situations where anxiety comes as you are now more willing to overcome your anxiety simply because of the reward. It is a great type of positive reinforcement.
Anxiety plagues our daily lives in some way, shape or form. However, some people are more predisposed toward anxious thoughts and feelings than others. Thankfully, there are several treatment options available for those who need help managing their own anxieties. In this article, we are going to discuss some different types of anxieties and treatment strategies that are commonly used to help ensure that you can still lead a happy, productive life.
A brief overview of anxiety disorders and statistics
Approximately 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder, according to the National National Alliance on Mental Illness. This fact makes anxiety disorders the most widespread and widely recognized psychological condition in the United States. Anxiety disorders often manifest themselves as an overwhelming feeling of fear and nervousness over situations that we encounter in everyday life [i.e. work, school, errands]. In severe cases, individuals with anxiety disorders may have consistent, strong fears that prevent them from carrying out their daily activities. Additionally, those with anxiety disorders are more likely to end up hospitalized for their condition as opposed to individuals who do not have anxiety disorders.
Treatment options for anxiety disorders span a broad range of possibilities. Some individuals use medication to help alleviate their anxiety, others seek behavioral therapy and others use a combination of both treatment modalities. Although anxiety is common in confronting a lot of life’s stressors, when it starts to interfere with your ability to do any activity, then it is possible you might have an anxiety disorder. There is no one factor that causes anxiety, but we will examine some in the section below.
Hereditary, Environmental and Traumatic Causes
Mental health professionals aren’t entirely sure what causes anxiety. Some believe that it is a combination of specific factors that increase an individual’s likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder. Some factors include, but are not limited to, genetics, a person’s environment, traumatic events and unknown medical conditions.
Genetic factors are a commonly studied source of anxiety disorders. Several research studies discovered that anxiety disorders run in families. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the genetic predisposition to anxiety might make someone more susceptible to developing an anxiety disorder. On the other hand, a genetic predisposition to an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean that you will develop one.
Another factor that has an impact on whether or not someone develops an anxiety disorder is the environment in which someone works, lives and spends time. Some of these environments can be particularly stressful and may not meet an individual’s needs on an emotional level. This lack of attentiveness to what someone may lead someone to feel incredibly anxious in their environment. Someone was once quoted saying “When I don’t have the nuts and bolts — nourishment, water, wellbeing, security — I am preparing myself for anxiety. On the off chance that I am working at minimum wage and I don’t have health insurance for myself or my two kids, I will likely be in a constant state of stress.” When the body is under a significant amount of stress, your mind undergoes biological changes that make you more vulnerable to anxiety disorders.
Certain populations, particularly ones that face some sort of discrimination, are also highly prone to developing anxiety disorders. For example, members of the LGBTQ+ community unfortunately face higher levels of bias and discrimination than their straight and cisgender peers. This makes LGBTQ+ individuals about 2.5 times more likely to be predisposed toward anxiety, depression and substance abuse, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Anxiety affects people of all communities, backgrounds, and beliefs, which is one of many reasons why it is so widely recognized by mental health professionals.
Traumatic events, such as the unexpected death of a loved one, serving in combat or fleeing from an oppressive country are all circumstances that can trigger the development of an anxiety disorder. “Anxiety is the consequence of the body’s regular capacity to make us aware of peril and dangers outside of our control,” said Tamara Hill, a mental health therapist who is certified in trauma therapy. “The body is carrying out its responsibility to keep us safe through sending signals to our mind. However, after a traumatic event happens, the body and the mind may react to external stimuli even if there is no danger or threat posed to the individual.” Military veterans often face trauma and stressful circumstances throughout their time in service, which may cause anxiety and be an early sign of post-traumatic pressure disorder (PTSD).
Another example in which individuals have experienced trauma are survivors of sexual assault or rape. These trauma victims are highly likely to experience distressing levels of anxiety, according to a recent study conducted by Rebecca C. Thurston of the University of Pittsburgh and distributed in JAMA.
Undiagnosed Medical Problems
In some people, undiagnosed or underlying health conditions can cause you to feel anxious. By visiting your primary care provider, you can likely rule out the following causes for a physical condition behind your anxiety. Some of the health conditions that carry anxiety as a main symptom include, but are not limited to:
· Immune system disorders (lupus, fibromyalgia, provocative conditions)
· Nourishment sensitivities
· Head trauma
· Heart problems
· Lyme sickness
· Medications, herbal supplements, caffeinated drinks
· Neurological conditions
· Poor nourishment, (for example, vitamin B12 inadequacy)
Anxiety can also develop as a result of taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications. Some medications that commonly cause anxiety are birth control pills, weight loss medication, decongestants, steroids, asthma medications and medicine that helps treat Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, stopping other medications [i.e. Cymbalta] can cause withdrawal side effects, which often manifests as anxiety. When starting or stopping any anti-anxiety medication, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider / prescribing physician before you make any changes to your medication regimen.
GAD and Other Common Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a broad term that covers a group of disorders. While heightened fear and stress are defining characteristics of the disorder, the disorder itself can come to light in several different ways. A research was once quoted as saying that “Anxiety can run from OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder], detachment anxiety, and anxiety related to agoraphobia and extreme panic attacks,” said Hill.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness categorizes anxiety into four different areas: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder (PD), and phobias.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
About 6.8 million American adults suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. Individuals with GAD often experience anxiety on a continuous basis throughout their everyday lives. The stress usually lasts for a long period of time. GAD can also carry physical symptoms such as migraines, fatigue, nausea and exhaustion. Prolonged stress not only interferes with daily routines but it can also have a large impact on someone’s quality of life.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by an extreme fear of social interactions. SAD affects approximately 15 million American adults. Individuals with SAD often fixate on or become extremely embarrassed by being out in the open. They’re often apprehensive, are critical with themselves if they “say something stupid” and fear judgment from their peers. These intense fears often cause people to withdraw themselves from social gatherings, meeting new people and making new friends. They often experience panic attacks as well in the face of socially anxious situations.
Panic Disorder (PD)
Panic disorder, or PD, affects approximately 6 million Americans and women are twice as likely as men to experience PD. Panic disorder surfaces randomly and without a known trigger. This causes people to suddenly feel fear and dread, often accompanied by chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath. People with panic disorder often avoid places that are likely to bring on their symptoms.
People who experience phobias are deeply afraid of something. Phobias often trigger panic attacks and people who experience phobias do everything in their power to try and avoid the thing that frightens them. Phobias usually start at around the age of seven, and women are twice as likely as men to have a phobia. Approximately 19 million American adults have phobias.
Below are some examples of common phobias:
· Acrophobia: fear of heights
· Aerophobia: fear of flying
· Arachnophobia: fear of spiders
· Astraphobia: fear of thunder and/or lightning
· Claustrophobia: fear of small spaces
· Cynophobia: Fear of dogs
· Emetophobia: fear of vomiting
· Glossophobia: fear of public speaking
· Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
· Trypophobia: Fear of the sight of irregular cluster of small holes or bumps
· Xenophobia: fear of the obscure or new, (for example, outsiders)
Treatments for Anxiety
The most commonly practiced form of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy centers around helping people change their responses to stressful situations by utilizing tools and techniques to address a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another type of psychotherapy that assists people in healing from anxiety and PTSD. War veterans and other individuals who have lived through trauma often utilize EMDR in their therapy regimens. EMDR works by utilizing reciprocal eye development and talk therapy to remember traumatic events and help the individual process them, changing the manner in which they deal with trauma.
Exercise and Yoga
Studies have shown regular exercise can work as well as medication to control anxiety in some people, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In fact, even a 10-minute walk can make a difference. Exercise helps alleviate stress and calm the mind by stimulating chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins create a feeling of calm and a positive mood, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Even gentle yoga focused on meditation can help.
“The very nature of acupuncture is calming,” said licensed acupuncture physician Samadhi Artemisa. “There are specific points on the body for calming the nervous system. We call it the Shen in Chinese medicine. Studies involving over 400 patients found that acupuncture produced twice the reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment with drugs and therapy, according to Evidence-Based Acupuncture. Research shows that acupuncture releases endorphins and calms the release of neurochemicals implicated in the brain’s response to stress.
Deep Breathing and Meditation
Breathing and meditation techniques can manage anxiety and panic attacks when practiced regularly. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness, according to The American Institute of Stress. Breathing goes hand-in-hand with meditation. About 30 minutes of meditation each day may lessen your feelings of anxiety and depression, according to a review of studies by researchers at Johns Hopkins.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on how to deal with anxiety:
- How can I deal with panic attacks?
While panic attacks are extremely uncomfortable in the moment, it is important to remember that they always pass. Some strategies that you can use to help get yourself through a panic attack involve meditation, breathing exercises, grounding exercises or talking to a loved one.
- Is anxiety curable?
While there are several treatment options for managing anxiety, there is no singular option for curing all of your anxious symptoms. Practicing meditation, attending talk therapy sessions and taking medications are just some of several ways in which you can help manage your anxiety. Any medication you take for anxiety should be discussed first with your healthcare provider.
Interested in Learning More? Check out these books on dealing with anxiety:
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, loneliness or any similar mental health issue then seeking help for it may be a good option. Mental health issues such as depression, loneliness and anxiety can affect anyone of us.
If you are under 18 then CAMHS, an NHS run programme may just be the answer for your mental health struggles.
You should look to see if you meet the CAMHS referral criteria and then fill in the CAMHS referral form.
In this brief guide, we discussed how to overcome anxiety and provide you with a list of things that may help you overcome anxiety.