5 tips on How to Understand and Cope With Anxiety

November, 2020

There come moments in our lives when we’re feeling very low. These moments are filled with stress, fear, and panic. It feels really overwhelming and it seems like there’s no way out of it. I think most of us have already experienced these feelings, most of us have gone through anxiety. Today I’d like to focus on what you should know about anxiety and how to cope with it.

What does anxiety look like?

Anxiety can manifest itself in various ways. There are symptoms that could be really clear but also those which you may not connect with this phenomenon.

As it’s written in Erica Crino’s article, ‘anxiety symptoms vary from person to person.’ Among the most common mental symptoms, you can find nervousness, panic, feeling danger, tension, problem to focus, obsessions about certain ideas, avoiding the problem that triggers you, and causes anxiety. Very often physical symptoms are sleeping problems, trembling, weakness, rapid breathing, and rapid heartbeat, gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea.)

Normal anxiety or disorder?

In Sheryl Ankrom’s article, you can read that it is normal to have anxiety sometimes. In fact, it could be a useful response to a dangerous or critical situation and prepare the organism for dealing with it. In the same article, you can also learn about the differences between ‘normal anxiety’ and ‘problem anxiety’. Let’s explore it more into the details.

‘Normal anxiety’ very often comes after rational and obvious triggers, for example, family problems, stressful work, or going through any other difficulty that life can bring.

‘Problem anxiety’ tends to have irrational causes and manifest themselves chronically. Symptoms of ‘problem anxiety’ are more intense and could cause you some difficulties in your personal life, at work or school, it could cause problems with concentration. This anxiety leads to or could be a sign of anxiety disorder.

Keep in mind that some cases of anxiety could also require a consultation with a professional. Make an appointment with a doctor if:

You have a feeling that anxiety has a negative influence on your life and it’s impossible to handle it.

You could see that your anxiety symptoms are getting worse, more intense.

You’ve noticed some new symptoms during your anxiety.

You have suicidal thoughts- in emergency call ambulance service.

You can find this information in Tanya J. Petterson’s article. I really recommend reading that article if you have any questions or doubt about the severity of your anxiety or about seeing a specialist.

What should I do?

Now we know a bit more about anxiety so let’s focus on how to cope with it. You can find many articles and studies on this topic. Again, everyone is unique so different things could work for us while we’re going through this. There are a few tips you could try

1. Get your breathing under control

Our breathing is irregular and rapid when we’re experiencing anxiety, this can lead to hyperventilation. Therefore it’s important to get our breathing under control. We can accomplish that by doing breathing exercises. I really like the relaxing deep breathing exercise described in Diana Wells’ article. Here you go:

‘Sit comfortably.

Breathe in through your nose for 6 seconds (try to fill your abdomen first, then up through your upper chest).

Hold your breath for 2-3 seconds.

Release your breath slowly through pursed lips.

Repeat 10 times.

Sit comfortably

Close your eyes

Take one deep breath and release it while saying the word ‘relax’ either silently or aloud.

Breath naturally 10 times while counting each breath (try to relax your face muscles as well as shoulders and other areas).

After counting from 10 to 1, open your eyes.’

However, you can also find some audio recordings with breathing exercises on youtube. For example here is a video that guides breathing through a panic attack and may help you stop it.

2. Run away from anxiety

Several psychological studies showed that running and physical activity in general help to decrease the level of tension and relieve stress. It is also a good depression prevention. So put on your shoes and get out. If you can’t run due to your health condition, just take a walk, it’s also effective.

3. HALT!

There are some ways to prevent anxiety and reduce the time it takes to manifest. Cindy Turner’s article shows a nice mnemonic device that is well known among people dealing with anxiety. This mnemonic device could help you take care of yourself and prevent anxiety. It’s hidden in the word ‘HALT’ which in the German language means ‘STOP’. How does it work? The word ‘HALT’ is an acronym. When you’re feeling low, check if you’re not:

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired

Why? It’s proved that all of these things could cause anxious feelings. So next time when you’ll be experiencing anxiety try to look out for these triggers. If you find you’re at the moment Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, fulfill these needs. Get some food, do some exercise which could help you to deal with anger, call your loved ones, or try to get some sleep.

4. Pen and paper

During anxiety, sometimes it feels like your mind just can’t stop. Your head is filled with harmful, chaotic, and irrational thoughts. Are you familiar with these feelings? Try to write it out. Ginger Wojcik in her article described two ways how could writing help to overcome anxiety:

Facts vs Fiction: Grab a pen and paper and write down information about your situation. Try to focus on the facts and also on what you can do about the situation.

Journal: Write a diary, describe your feelings, your mood, and the reasons why you’re feeling uneasy. Also, put in words some happy memories and things you’re grateful for. Journaling could really help with self-reflection and expressing feelings.

5. Relax and be kind to yourself

When you feel anxious, relax, and do what you love. Is it relaxing for you to take a hot bath or shower? Do you enjoy painting or performing other creative activities? Is there a TV show that always makes you laugh? It could be really anything. Let yourself indulge in these things. When our loved ones are feeling miserable, we are trying to do our best to make them feel better. We are entertaining them, talking to them, we have empathy for them. It’s important to treat ourselves as those loved ones when we’re feeling low.

When it’s not enough…

If you tried everything but it doesn’t seem to be working and you’re still feeling bad, please don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. There are psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists that could help you deal with anxiety with therapeutic methods and medication. This treatment can really help you improve the quality of your life.

I hope you find this information and tips useful and I wish you strength on your journey leading towards better tomorrows.

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