Symptoms of anxiety affect millions of people every day, and they can be overwhelming. Many people experience these symptoms during times of high stress or emotion, and outside of these times are able to function with minimal to no anxiety. Others suffer from anxiety attacks with little-to-no warning, and these emotions can prevent them from participating in things they love most. Fortunately, there are many strategies and therapies available to help you and those you love get your symptoms under control.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion most of us have experienced at some point in our lives. It is often associated with stressful times or emotionally charged moments. However, there are some who suffer from symptoms of anxiety much more frequently than others. When anxiety starts impacting your daily life, it can be a sign of a more serious condition that should be addressed.
Anxiety is associated with a variety of symptoms. Depending on the degree of anxiety and anxiety triggers, each person can experience these symptoms differently. General symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless or nervous, having a tough time concentrating due to worry, and trouble sleeping at night. Anxiety can also present with physical symptoms including increased blood pressure and heart rate, sweating, shaking, digestion issues, and hyperventilating. In some people, especially those with phobias or panic disorders, anxiety can cause them to feel like they are in danger without any real reason and can prevent them from participating in certain activities that they fear will trigger their anxiety.
Stats About Anxiety
Anxiety is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder among adults in the United States. A reported 18-19% of the adult population has an anxiety disorder, and up to 31% of all adults will suffer from some anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Surprisingly, anxiety is relatively common in children as well. Adolescents aged 13-18 years also experience anxiety disorders at a reported rate of 25-31 percent.
Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobias are twice as likely to impact women than they affect men, while social anxiety disorder is found equally between the two sexes. Regardless of the different impact anxiety can have between men and women, a shockingly low 35-40% of people who suffer from anxiety seek treatment.
7 Ways to Start Dealing with Anxiety Now
There are many effective therapy and medication options to help with anxiety, but there are also strategies you can implement now to help you manage your symptoms. Below are just a few of the ways you can help decrease your symptoms of anxiety.
1. Practicing Positive Self Assurance
Anxiety can cause you to focus on all the negative aspects of your life, and it can drive you to dwell on situations you feel you did not handle correctly. This can quickly spiral into destructive thinking patters that can worsen anxiety and other mental health disorders. In order to decrease or avoid these negative thoughts, try to focus on more positive aspects of your life. When you feel yourself starting to worry about things in your life that are not going well, take a moment to reflect on some things that are going well. If you are feeling bad about a recent interaction with friends or at work, try to think of how those interactions can help you learn and positively impact future interactions.
2. Keep an Anxiety Journal
When experiencing anxiety, it can be hard to identify what is causing your symptoms. One exercise that can help you work through this is journaling about your experience. When you start feeling anxious, write down everything that is causing you to feel worried or restless; include any other emotions you are feeling during this time. Sometimes, just the exercise of writing down your thoughts and fears can help you work through your overwhelming concerns. You can also go back to your journaling when you are feeling less anxious or bring them with you to a therapy session to reflect on the sources of your anxiety in those moments and eventually work through them.
3. Challenge Negative Thinking
Focusing on positive thoughts can help you overcome the negative worries and ideas that can take over when you experience anxiety. When you fear negative outcomes, this fear can consume your daily life. When you feel fear or worry creeping into your thoughts, try to think of a positive outcome in your situation. For example, if you are afraid of flying and experience nausea, sweating, and and increased heart rate when you have to get on an airplane, try to focus on the positives of your trip and all the things you have planned when you reach your destination. Think about the opportunity you have to take that trip as a positive experience to help shift your thoughts away from the negative moment.
4. Set Up a Routine
Routine can help you get through your daily activities and minimize any exposure to unexpected triggers for your anxiety. Setting up a routine can also help ensure you achieve everything you need to for that day, which can help reduce anxiety about leaving tasks undone. Incorporating healthy meals and exercise into your routine can also help your physical health, which in turn can improve your mental health. By establishing a daily routine, you can focus more on your schedule and the positive parts of your day without worrying about the uncertainty of what each day could bring.
5. Practicing Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can differ from person to person, as each individual finds peace in different activities. There are many techniques you can use to try to calm your anxiety. Practicing deep breathing can relieve tension and restlessness; take a moment to close your eyes and focus on your breathing when you feel anxiety coming on. Others find practicing yoga or meditation to be calming. Listening to or playing music, reading, and exercise are other activities that can help take your mind off of your fears and help you feel relaxed. Try a few of these techniques to see which are most effective for you.
6. Get Some Exercise
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can benefit you physically and help achieve better mental health. Incorporating an exercise routine you enjoy into your daily schedule can help you achieve healthy lifestyle goals. Participating in various exercise activities can also take mental and physical energy away from the negativity associated with anxiety and channel that energy into a positive outcome.
7. Practicing Acceptance
There will always be things in life that are out of our control, and many times these are the things that create the most anxiety. It can be challenging to overcome the fears and worries associated with the unknown, but it is important to understand that spending time focusing on these unknowns does not change them. Identify some of the situations or concerns that cause you the most anxiety, and ask yourself if these things are under your control. If the answer is yes, identify the tasks you need to complete to erase this worry and go do them. If the answer is no, realize that there will always be aspects of our life and the lives of others that we cannot change and remind yourself it is okay to accept this.
What Are the Traditional Treatments for Anxiety?
While anxiety impacts millions of people in the United States and around the world, a low percentage of them choose to receive treatment. There are a variety of treatment options available for those who suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related disorders.
Therapy for Anxiety
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is most commonly used to help those with anxiety overcome their symptoms. Working with a therapist who can help you identify your triggers and find effective strategies to deal with and overcome those triggers can help you get back to living a healthy, quality life.
Therapy has evolved over the years, and there are many formats available for you to work with a therapist and participate in therapy. Traditionally, therapy sessions are held in the therapist’s office where you talk with the therapist and they coach you through the session. As technology has advanced, options for participating in therapy have become more accessible. You can now find a therapist online and participate in therapy sessions through video and online chats. There are also support groups available for those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Medications for Anxiety
There are a variety of medications that can be used to help you manage your anxiety symptoms. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to help people manage their symptoms. These medications can be effective for calming your nerves and helping you through a situation that is known to cause anxiety. However, they are best used on an “as needed” basis because they do not help treat the cause of the anxiety and they can become addicting.
Many medications used to treat depression are also used to help with anxiety. SSRIs are often prescribed to those who suffer from anxiety. Buspirone is another medication commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety. These medications are usually prescribed to be taken every day to reduce anxiety episodes.
What Are Other Ways of Dealing with Anxiety?
There are other specific strategies that have been used to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Some target specific types of anxiety disorders, while others are newer therapies that continue to be explored.
Exposure Therapy for Anxiety
Exposure therapy is often used to help those who suffer from panic disorder or phobias. It is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that tries to minimize the anxiety a person might experience when it is associated with a specific event or situation. The theory behind this strategy is to gently expose the person to the triggering event and then help coach them to build confidence in their future encounters. By exposing the person to the triggering situation in a controlled environment, the therapist can help show them that they are capable of handling that event and their worst fears are often not realized.
Meditation/Mindfulness for Anxiety
Meditation and mindfulness meditation have been shown to improve anxiety for those who practice this technique. Another benefit of this strategy is it does not have to consume a lot of time in your day. There are many different types of meditation, and some, like mindfulness meditation, have been shown to be more helpful for anxiety than others. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be as easy as taking a few minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. The idea is when you recognize a thought or worry during your breathing, you acknowledge it and then “push it aside” and focus again on your breathing. This can help those who suffer from anxiety take a break from their worries and help manage their overwhelming thought processes.
CBD Oil for Anxiety
CBD, or cannabidiol, oil is currently being studied in a variety of medical and mental health conditions. There is some evidence to support its use in patients with anxiety disorders, although most studies have been done on animals or in small groups of humans. As more evidence becomes available for this therapy, CBD oil could prove to be an effective way to help people manage their symptoms of anxiety. If you are interested in trying this therapy, research different brands to ensure you are purchasing a quality product and talk with your physician or therapist to learn more about the research behind this therapy.
How to Find a Therapist
Finding a therapist can be the biggest challenge to starting therapy. Online therapy is a great option for those looking for a convenient, accessible way to talk to a therapist. ThriveTalk has many therapists available with a wide variety of qualifications and experiences to help you receive the help you need. Online therapy allows you the ability to work with a therapist on your own schedule and in the location of your choice, and it allows you to receive the coaching and guidance you need in your everyday environments.
Dealing with anxiety can be challenging and frustrating, especially for those who feel isolated in their struggle. There are many strategies you can implement in your daily life to help improve your symptoms and change your thought patterns to focus on the positive aspects of your life. There are also proven therapy methods that can help you overcome your triggers and get back to doing the things you love most. Reach out to a therapist today to start your journey to a happier, healthier life.