Have you ever felt a rapid heartbeat after a dangerous or frightening meeting? You may have noticed that your breasts start to feel tight when you know you are having a difficult conversation. Everyone experiences anxiety in their life, but different factors can influence how often you experience anxiety, how severe your symptoms are, and what might trigger your anxiety.
If you’re looking for quick ways to manage your symptoms at the moment, as well as long-term strategies to minimize the amount of anxiety you experience, check out these tips and expert advice from Jefferson Center clinician Katie Baur.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural reaction of your mind and body to stressful situations. According to Baur, “stress is anything that threatens your well-being.” This threat can be physical, emotional or psychological, causing you to react in different ways. Anxiety can manifest itself as a physiological reaction, such as heavy breathing or sweating; an emotional reaction, such as anger or anxiety; and behavioral responses such as changing eating and sleeping habits. In most cases, the event that triggers your concern is temporary and the symptoms disappear.
Since anxiety can be triggered by a number of factors and often multiple factors, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the root cause of your anxious thoughts, especially during events such as a pandemic. The coronavirus poses a multitude of threats to health and well-being, from our health to work and daily life and normal lifestyles. Baur states that “when you are in a pandemic, the threat will never go away.”
Dealing with difficult stressful situations – short-lived or with no obvious endpoint – is an excellent tool for maintaining mental health. Here are some easy ways to get rid of anxiety when it comes up in your life.
1. Identify your warning signs
While everyone experiences anxiety, how people experience it can vary greatly depending on their personality, genetics, and past experiences. These can include trembling hands, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, feeling anxious, and jumpy thoughts. Also, things of concern can vary from person to person. Everything from difficult work to financial problems and smoking to alcohol consumption can affect your anxiety. Knowing your unique triggers and warning signs can help you recognize when you need to take a step back and correct the situation.
2. Take a few deep breaths.
Grounding exercises are a common technique used to restore the connection between the mind and body and calm anxious thoughts. Baur recommends doing deep breathing exercises when you notice that your anxiety is increasing. To practice this, inhale through your nose, count to five, then exhale through your nose and count to five. Repeat this process for five minutes until you feel your body begin to relax.
3. Practice awareness
When you are overwhelmed by stress, it often feels like you are losing control. Awareness and mindfulness are great tools to help you regain some control and manage your emotions. Activities like yoga and meditation have been shown to naturally relieve anxiety by focusing on self-soothingness. If you are not in a place where you can meditate or move your body, Baur recommends testing and reconnecting by counting your five senses. Y You may need to repeat this process several times before you feel relaxed.
4. Prioritize your exercises
Another exercise is an evidence-based approach to solving mental health problems such as depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. Experts recommend doing aerobic exercise for at least XNUMX minutes five times a week to improve your mood and burn stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol. This can be running, cycling, hiking, walking, biking, dancing, or whatever you enjoy doing that keeps you moving and your heart rate.
5. Get quality sleep
Sleep is at the core of our health and wellness because it is time for our bodies to relax and recharge every day. Without quality sleep or enough sleep, your performance at work or school can suffer, your risk of injury increases, your mood drops, and you become more at risk of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Adding exercise to your day, creating time for mental relaxation, and a brief mindfulness exercise can help you sleep faster and get better rest every night .
6. Find healthy distractions.
When your anxiety builds up, it can be difficult for you to think about anything else. However, looking for a healthy distraction can give your brain something else to do, and you can take some time away from stressful thoughts. Baur recommends keeping a journal, listening to music, playing with a pet, being creative, talking with friends, and praying for distraction.
7. Take a look at the bright side
When it comes to managing anxiety symptoms, the power of humor and gratitude cannot be underestimated. Negativity can easily take root in your mind and distort how bad a situation seems. On the opposite side, humor helps restore a sense of strength, and laughter lowers stress hormones while increasing endorphins in the body. Shifting your focus on what’s going on in your life and finding ways to be grateful is a big step in releasing anxiety.
Focus on what you can change
As Baur says, “The reality is that we don’t have much control over the pandemic right now.” It can be hard to hear, especially in a situation that doesn’t have a specific end date, but focusing on what you can change can make you feel better than thinking about everything that you can’t change. Instead of worrying about the health of your loved one, be sure to spend time with them (if you can) and express your gratitude for having them in your life. Even when your fears and concerns are justified, you can still choose how you approach the situation.
When your anxiety becomes harmful
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life, but it is important to monitor your symptoms and determine when they begin to appear. If you notice that your anxiety is starting to significantly affect your relationship, work life, or your health, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Anxiety is a normal response to stress, but you have the ability to calm your thoughts and restore the connection between body and mind. By practicing compassion for yourself and others, you can learn to acknowledge your fears without getting stuck in them.
To learn more about the tools and techniques to help you deal with anxiety at this moment, watch Katy Baur’s full webinar: Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress During COVID-19 , Check out our other Blog Posts , and visit our website to view the Services we offer. Want to take these tips with you wherever you go? Download the visual guide !