Practical Powerful Ways To Help Manage Anxiety
Understand why it feels the way it does.
Understanding why anxiety feels the way it does will be one of your greatest tools in managing it. Think of it like this. Imagine being in a dark room that is full of stuff. When you walk around in the dark, youre going to bump into things. Youre going to scrape, bruise and maybe drop a few choice words. Turn on the light though, and those things are still there, but now you can navigate your way around them. No more bumps. No more scrapes. And no more having to hold your tongue in front of people who can confiscate your phone. Heres what you need to know
Anxiety happens because a part of your brain thinks there might be something it needs to protect you from. When this happens, it surges your body with a mix of neurochemicals , designed to make you stronger, faster, more alert and more powerful so you can fight for your life or run for it. This is the fight or flight response. Its normal and healthy and its in everyone. In people with anxiety, its just a little quicker to activate.
The amygdala acts on impulse. Its a do-er, not a thinker all action and not a lot of thought. It just wants to keep you safe, because safe is a lovely thing to be and because thats been its job since the beginning of humans. The amygdala cant always tell the difference between something that might hurt you and something that wont and it doesnt care. All it wants to do is keep you safe.
You might feel dizzy or a bit confused.
Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
What Are The Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Emotional Stress
Symptoms of emotional stress can be both physical, mental and behavioral.
Physical symptoms include:
- Heaviness in your chest, increased heart rate or chest pain.
- Shoulder, neck or back pain general body aches and pains.
- Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.
- Shortness of breath.
- Losing or gaining weight changes in your eating habits.
- Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Gastrointestinal problems including upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation.
- Sexual difficulties.
Mental or behavioral symptoms include:
- Being more emotional than usual.
- Feeling overwhelmed or on edge.
- Trouble keeping track of things or remembering.
- Trouble making decisions, solving problems, concentrating, getting your work done.
- Using alcohol or drugs to relieve your emotional stress.
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Listen To Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too .
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why theyre often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
Reduce Caffeine And Alcohol
Caffeine is a great stimulant, and many nonprofessionals believe that it is good for fighting depression. For this, you need to be careful, as Caffeine being a stimulant may worsen anxiety.
On the other hand, alcohol is a depressant. While you may seem to notice that alcohol is helpful in making you fall asleep during the night, it does not automatically mean that you get quality sleep. Instead, it can harm you even more, as alcohol and depression have a reciprocal need and interaction.
For instance, alcohol intake can worsen the symptoms of depression, and depression makes a person attracted to alcohol use.
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How Can You Help Yourself
Stress is a natural reaction to many situations in life, such as work, family, relationships and money problems.
We mentioned earlier on that a moderate amount of stress can help us perform better in challenging situations,34 but too much or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems. This can include lower immunity levels,35 digestive and intestinal difficulties, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome ,36 or mental health problems such as depression.37 It is therefore important that we manage our stress and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to our bodies and minds.
How Can I Manage My Stress
Use your strengths and skills to make a positive plan to address the stressful events in your life and how youre reacting to stress.
Whether your stress is internal or external, relaxation techniques can help you manage stress and boost your ability to cope. There are many different techniques, and its important you find the ones you connect with. Examples include slow breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and exercise.
Read more here on relaxation techniques for stress relief.
A friend or family member can also be a great source of support, but at times you may feel that you need help from a professional. Consider talking with a counsellor, psychologist or social worker to work with you to identify the source of your stress and build strategies to better manage it.
Psychologists and other therapists use a range of approaches to help manage stress and anxiety. One evidence-based approach is a technique known as cognitive behavior therapy which is based on the idea that how you think and act affects how you feel.
Watch this video from This Way Up about ways to cope during stressful or difficult times.
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Get Involved In Your Community
Find a way to volunteer or be active in your community.
Science shows that helping others may influence levels of oxytocin in the brains of volunteers, according to a study in Hormones and Behavior by Michael J. Poulin and E. Alison Holman. Oxytocin helps the body manage stress.
Helping others also allows people to focus on something other than their anxiety.
Listen To Good Mood Music
Music can have a powerful effect on your mood and on anxiety. They key however is to not just choose songs you like. but also make sure that you are listening to music that represents the way you want to feel. Happy or relaxing music can directly impact your mood and the way you feel.
While many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when theyâre angry or sad music when theyâre sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. That won’t help you feel better. When you’re trying to stop anxiety, you should listen to music that will help you feel the way you want to feel.
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Emotional First Aid Kit
An emotional first aid kit can provide an immediate, although temporary, positive effect on the way we think and feel. Having an emotional first aid kit readily available can help people who are struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety, low self esteem, or other mental and emotional issues.
Is It Stress Or Anxiety
Life can be stressfulyou may feel stressed about performance at school, traumatic events , or a life change. Everyone feels stress from time to time.
What is stress? Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body’s reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.
If that anxiety doesnt go away and begins to interfere with your life, it could affect your health. You could experience problems with sleeping, or with your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. You also may be at higher risk for developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Read more about anxiety disorders.
So, how do you know when to seek help?
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Am I Experiencing Stress Or Anxiety
Chances are that you are probably experiencing a little bit of both, but one may be more overwhelming. Here are some signs that can help you distinguish between anxiety and stress:
Begin Your Recovery Journey.
Do I Need Treatment For Anxiety
Thereâs a lot you can do on your own to relieve anxiety, but sometimes you need help. Psychotherapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety disorders.
Signs that itâs time to talk to a mental health professional include:
- Constant or nearly constant anxiety
- Anxiety that gets in the way of your daily activities, like work or social life
- Anxiety about things that donât actually threaten you
- Panic attacks
Check your health insurance policy to see what mental health services your plan covers. Then, review a list of your in-network providers to find one to connect with.
âYou donât want to add to your anxiety by paying big out-of-pocket fees,â Kissen says.
Your primary care doctor may also be able to recommend a mental health professional with experience treating anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Rosmarin notes that itâs important to find a provider you click with and trust. He also says therapy doesnât need to go on indefinitely to be effective.
âA course of cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety may be eight to 10 sessions,â he says. âThereâs also data to suggest that people feel substantially better after just one therapy session for panic disorder.â
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Smoking Drinking And Drug Use And Stress
You might find that you smoke, drink alcohol or use recreational drugs to reduce stress. However, this often makes problems worse.28
Research shows that smoking may increase feelings of anxiety.29 Nicotine creates an immediate, temporary, sense of relaxation, which can then lead to withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Similarly, you may use alcohol as a means to manage and cope with difficult feelings, and to temporarily reduce feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol may make existing mental health problems worse. It can make you feel more anxious and depressed in the long run.30 It is important to know the recommended limits31 and drink responsibly.
Prescription drugs, such as tranquillisers and sleeping tablets, which may have been prescribed for very good reasons, can also cause mental and physical health problems if used for long periods of time.32 Street drugs, such as cannabis or ecstasy, are usually taken for recreational purposes. For some people, problems start as their bodies get used to repeated use of the drug. This leads to the need for increased doses to maintain the same effect.33
Tips From Our Activists And Bloggers On Dealing With Anxiety
I really wish I could tell 17-year-old Emily to just tell someone. Believe me, it feels so much better to get your worries out of your head and be honest about what youre going through.
, try to remind yourself that theres no danger with your family or friends, and that you are safe with them.
Write a letter to yourself explain how you feel and why. Be as open and truthful with yourself as you can be. A few days later, read it back imagining someone else wrote it to think how you would help them.
Sometimes all you need to do is stop and focus on your breathing. I have learned many techniques over my time in counselling, and finding one that works for you is important.
Ive found that imagining my anxious thoughts physically leaving my brain and floating off into the sky really helps me.
As stressful and anxiety-inducing as seeking help can be in itself, talking to someone and receiving support is the only way to overcome it.
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Simple Steps To Deal With Stress And Anxiety
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
Do you wonder if you may worry too much? And how much anxiety is officially “too much?” To answer these questions, you may need to deepen your understanding of stress and anxiety, and how they help and hurt you.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you or someone close to you is experiencing an emergency, or is at risk of immediate harm, call triple zero . To talk to someone now, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you have tried relaxation techniques and reaching out to someone you trust, but still feel overwhelmed, you can check in with your doctor or speak with a mental health professional.
Stress is not itself a diagnosis but rather a clue that something else is going on. Chronic stress could be a sign of depression, anxiety or a symptom of another mental health condition. GPs and psychologists are trained to know how to recognise when stress is a sign that you need extra support, so dont hesitate to reach out for advice.
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If You Would Like More Advice Or Information You Can Contact Our Advice And Information Service By Clicking Here
- Most people feel stressed sometimes.
- Some stress can be helpful. Too much stress may make you ill.
- Stress affects everyone differently, but there are common signs you can look out for.
- There are many different causes of stress. Stress is not an illness itself. But it can make you unwell if it is very bad or if it lasts a long time.
- You might not be able to avoid stress but there are things you can do to manage it.
How To Stop Severe Anxiety Disorders
If you feel your anxiety is out of your control and significantly impacting your ability to function in life, go see your primary care provider immediately. Each additional day you go without treatment reinforces the anxiety, making it stronger. Because anxiety affects so many individuals, there are several options available.
Other anxiety reduction strategies like relaxation exercises and meditation may be less effective for severe anxiety, because the severity often makes spending time on those activities harder to accomplish. They may be useful in combination with other techniques, but should not be used alone.
It is highly recommended to seek therapy to better tackle long term management of severe anxiety.
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Helpful Organisations For Money Worries
It is important if you are worried about your finances and debts that you do not try to deal with them alone. There is a lot of help and support available to you through organisations such as Step Change and Citizens Advice.
You should also talk to your GP or a trusted health professional if you are worried about how debt is affecting your mental and physical health.