our head is racing with distressing thoughts, you’re irritated and can’t concentrate, your muscles are tensing up, and you’re feeling on edge. In short, your mind is going places where it shouldn’t. We’ve all been there. Stress is a part of life almost all of us are familiar with. From jobs to relationships to every other aspect of living, we are continually being presented with new challenges. Sometimes, these challenges can be too overwhelming for us to handle, and ultimately they can lead to anxiety.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a primal human emotion we are all born with. You can define it as our body’s natural response to threats and fears regarding future events.
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. It’s like our body’s built-in alarm that goes off when there’s a threat. Some amount of concern and worry is vital for us to make the right decisions and stay out of danger. It helps us stay safe and keep on the right track.
Anxiety happens to the best of us. We all face tension from time to time, such as after losing a job, breaking a relationship, or worrying about a significant event of our life. Short-lived anxiety is normal and goes away on its own.
However, too much anxiety is not healthy. It can overtake our mind, and get in our way of living a peaceful life.
How to deal with anxiety?
Understanding and coping with anxiety is essential for us to live a healthy life. Fortunately, many practical approaches can help us tackle anxiety and stay calm in stressful situations. Let’s have a look at different ways with which you can deal with anxiety.
1. Be aware and observe yourself
Anxiety is mostly a convincing liar. Under stress, our brain can blow things out of proportion and make a mountain out of a molehill. Meaning your problems may not be as big and threatening as your mind is presenting them to you.
One of the simplest and most effective ways with which you can tackle your anxiety is to observe yourself when you’re having anxious thoughts. Stop, breathe, and be aware of your thoughts and what they are doing to you.
Ask yourself, what are these ideas and beliefs leading me to? As soon as you become aware of what you are thinking and observe your thoughts, you get the ability to stop your mind instantly from going in that direction.
2. Question your thinking pattern
To learn how to deal with anxiety, you have to understand that you have nothing to fear but fear itself. Negative thoughts can distort the severity of the situation. Anxiety is not always accurate or in accordance with reality. Try to sit down in a relaxed position, and rationally think about your fears and concerns.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Is there any evidence or facts to back up my fears and worries?
- Am I jumping to negative conclusions, and is my worry reasonable?
- Is what I’m worried about even that important in the first place?
- Is it really that unbearable and dangerous?
- Are there any positive aspects of this situation?
- What are the practical things I can do to make the circumstances better?
- Will this even matter in a few months/years? Etc.
Doing this, you will understand that you have the power to observe and change the way you think. Also, try to write your thoughts down on paper as this will help you be more rational.
Asking yourself such questions will help you understand the magnitude of the problem you’re in. When you think critically about them, you will find that they are often exaggerated, illogical, and even ridiculous in some cases.
3. Know your triggers and be ready
The first step to solve a problem is its identification. All of us have specific issues that can trigger our anxiety. It could be stress at work, financial matters, social situations, family concerns, health predicaments, a toxic person, or anything. These triggers can happen daily and cause anxiety on a daily basis too.
Identify your triggers and see what causes you anxiety. Look for the patterns that lead you to anxiety. Know beforehand that such a situation might induce a panic attack.
When you anticipate a problem, and when it happens, anticipation will take the shock out of it. Pick a particular set of issues and start working on them. Come up with an actionable plan on how you can gradually improve on your condition and handle things better with less stress.
4. Practice Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been around for well over thousands of years. This ancient technique has risen to popularity again because of its positive impacts on mental health. It’s simple yet highly effective. Even practicing for ten minutes each day can immensely help you.
Here’s a simple step by step procedure on how to meditate:
- Sit comfortably either on the floor or on a chair.
- Relax and observe your breathing without trying to change it in any way. Just simply follow your breath going in and out.
- You will get distracted by all sorts of thoughts, including anxious ones, when you find yourself distracted, simply bring your awareness back to your breath. Resist this urge to get distracted and stay focused on your breathing.
- Continue this non-judgmental and quiet observation for 10-15 minutes and keep bringing your attention back to your breath.
It will feel challenging at first, but with time you will adapt to it. Taking deep breaths will naturally calm you and help you feel more relaxed. Meditation is a simple practice, but its impacts are very complex. It will help you stay ground in the present moment, help relieve stress, and give you an idea of how your distracting thoughts can lead you to anxiety. And most importantly, how you can detect and replace them with positive ones.
5. Share and Socialize
Anxiety can be hard to process, especially if you’re on your own. If you keep to yourself and don’t share with others, your negative thoughts will only multiply, and you won’t properly understand the real gravity of your fears. Sharing your anxious thoughts with your family and friends will help you relax and get assistance from others.
Getting support from your circle won’t only help you decompress, but their thinking can also show you new ways to cope with your concerns. Being with your friends will give you less time to overthink negative thoughts and help you be happier overall.
6. Practice Gratitude
The good thing about anxiety and gratitude is that if you have one, you can eliminate the other. We are often too occupied in the rat race that we forget the achievements we now possess and the goods we already have. Gratitude can help us shift our view of how we see the world. It can help us turn our focus from all the pains in life towards the blessings we have been gifted.
Nothing is ever black or white. It’s different shades of grey.
There’s always good in every situation, no matter how bad you think it is. Write a gratitude journal and appreciate all the things you’re grateful for. You have to understand that being thankful does not always come naturally. You have to practice it to get its full effects. Gratitude helps you stay happier with less and improves your physical and mental health.
7. Nutrition, Sleep, and Exercise
Your diet, physical health, and routine have a direct impact on your mental health. Quit caffeine, alcohol, or smoking. Caffeine can result in increased levels of nervousness and irritability for some people and makes it difficult to sleep at night. Sugar and alcohol also negatively impact your mood, so consider making some dietary changes.
Exercise is another excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety. Physical activity helps us release the built-up muscular and psychological tension while reducing our fears, worries, and improving our overall mood.
You can also try yoga and other mind-body exercises to get increased benefits. Practicing such self-care routines will not only help you stay mentally sharp but also improve your overall mental well being.
8. Get involved in Activities
Isolation and inactivity are among the worst fuels for mood disorders. The more you stay alone, the more your negative thoughts reproduce. Try to develop a busy routine and engage yourself in enjoyable activities as much as you can. Find a daily routine and stick to it.
Go for a daily jog, join a book club, play your favorite videogames, develop a new skill, hang out with friends once in a week, try to do anything that keeps you occupied. When you are busy, you will feel better, and your mind won’t have the time to overthink.
Anxiety is a universal condition, and it stems from our distortive thinking. Look back five years and think of all the things that terrified you? Did all of your fears turned out exactly as you imagined? Even if they did, were they as intolerable and disastrous as you thought? The answer is probably No.
Once you analyze and correct your negative thinking patterns, you will find that anxiety should not be that concerning. It is nothing but our thoughts, and we can effectively handle it by changing our thinking. Using the techniques above will help you understand the importance of rational thinking and lifestyle when it comes to anxiety. With time and practice, you will learn how to deal with anxiety. You will start identifying your triggers, developing coping skills, and living a progressive and stress-free life.