Getting stressed, feeling nervous, and worrying is a normal part of life. Some people are naturally more anxious than others. Many people handle it in different ways. However, there is a difference between stress and anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states the difference very well: stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to stress.
Having anxiety can be scary, and it can make your anxious feelings worse. Furthermore, society commonly views anxiety as “a sign of weakness” or not as a real medical illness. Remember that if you have anxiety, you are not alone: 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders. Thankfully, there are techniques you can use to manage your anxiety and help you feel better.
Take deep breaths, or meditate
Slow, intentional breathing is one of the best ways to release muscle tension and activate the body’s relaxation response. Your body goes from fight-or-flight mode to relaxation with a few deep, slow breaths. When you begin feeling anxious, try this practice: slowly inhale through your nostrils for 4 counts, filling your belly and chest with fresh air. Gently hold your breath for 4 counts. Then, slowly exhale for 4 counts through your nostrils. Concentrate on the sensations of your breathing and try not to focus on anything else. Repeat this 4-4-4 breath technique as many times as you need.
Through this breathing technique, you practice mindfulness, an important part of meditation. Studies have shown 10 to 15 minutes of mediation per day reduces stress and increases serotonin. Give it a try with a meditation app like Headspace, and take your mindful breathing even farther.
Focus on and accept how you are feeling right now
Anxiety often crops up when you worry about what’s going to happen. Come back to the present and talk yourself through your feelings as they happen. Inhale, exhale, and focus on the now. For example, you might be nervous about an important interview. Instead of thinking “I’m going to fail, I’m going to ruin everything” you might say out loud, “I’m very nervous, but I’m as prepared as I can be. I’ll do the best I can. Parts of it will go well and parts of it might not, and that’s okay.” Replacing negative thoughts with positive, rational thoughts will help you manage the situation, and get your brain into a new pattern of thinking about your worries.
Talk to someone
When you’re overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, talking to a professional often helps. Getting an outside perspective can help you view your worries and fears for what they really are. A therapist can give you further techniques for managing your anxiety, like staying healthy through diet and exercise, determining your anxiety triggers, writing down your feelings, and more. Counseling sessions with a professional can really help, especially if anxiety is significantly impacting your quality of life.
Learn how Mind Balance Counseling can help
At Mind Balance Counseling, our experienced therapists help individuals treat their anxiety through awareness and coping strategies. Everyone is different, and we tailor treatment to your unique needs so you can begin your healing process. Contact us for more information or to book an appointment now.