Reducing Anxiety: Tips to Help You Cope

Anxiety is a fickle ailment that doesn't adhere to a distinct, easily identifiable cause. Environmental factors from the stressors of personal relationships, your job, school, finances, or a traumatic event are major contributors involving anxiety. Genetics, brain chemistry, use or withdrawal from an illicit substance, medical factors including side effects from a pharmaceutical, symptoms of a condition, or stress from a serious underlying medical condition trigger it as well. Many times there's a crossover involving more than one of these factors affecting the anxiety experienced by the individual, as well as the severity to which it affects them. 

Excessive anxiety is most commonly triggered by the stress of day-to-day living, along with a combination of these other factors listed above. Outside forces prove to be most triggering, yet anxious feelings can emerge from a person telling themselves that the worst will always happen. From a minor inconvenience that simply sets the heart aflutter to downright debilitating effects that render the individual immobilized, there's still a common goal in reducing anxiety: how to find the coping mechanisms that will give you back control over your life.

Those first few moments of experiencing anxiety not only seem like a lifetime but may exhibit the symptoms of something more serious and life-threatening. The impending doom associated with a fast pulse, racing heart, cold sweats, and feeling faint may have you convinced you're about to give way to a cardiac episode. The compounding fear of the unknown coupled with the already present anxiety is what sends many reeling into a crippling, unmanageable fear spiraling out of control.

Being surrounded by others who are aloof and dismissive of this disorder can also exacerbate the episode you're experiencing at the moment. Once you're aware of your anxiety and understand that you don't suffer alone, you can take control by pinpointing the factors that cause it, along with finding the right approach for reducing anxiety.

What Is Anxiety?

Scared girl is experiencing anxiety

Image by Kian Hall from Pixabay

Approximately 40 million people in the United States are affected by some sort of anxiety disorder. It's classified as a mental illness that is also the most common. So maybe it's you or a loved one that has been suffering the ill effects of anxiety, and it's time to take back control and actively live a life without fear. The first step in doing so is to understand the roots of this ailment and where it stems from. Anxiety in a general sense is a normal, human function. The "fight or flight" response was a valuable tool for our ancestors when they were subjected to the wild elements and survival was a daily struggle.

Anxiety is the natural response to inevitable stressors such as those and happened to be a life-saving mechanism. With living in a very different modern world, anxiety still plays a fundamental part in motivation, preparing us for hardships, and creating energy to take action if needed. The problem with modern day anxiety lies within how we start to view threats and crises that come our way.

With anxiety disorders, manageable life tasks spiral out of control and everything surrounding you become a potential crisis. It's important to distinguish normal feelings of anxiety from the disorders that require medical attention. Anxiety knowingly becomes problematic when physical symptoms start to manifest and disrupt your daily life. Numerous symptoms ranging from mental to physical start to appear when anxiety becomes a problem, such as troubles eating, sleeping, and concentrating. Headaches, upset stomach, and panic attacks, the feeling of a pounding heart and lightheadedness, also progress with unmanaged anxiety.

Overlapping depression and the inability to cope with day-to-day activities is a sign that this has spiraled into a more serious ailment that needs to be addressed and properly maintained. Understanding the manifestations and severity of this ailment will be the first steps taken in your arsenal of remedies for reducing anxiety and getting back to living a quality, productive life.

Why Maintain Anxiety?

Man wearing hoodie experiencing anxiety  is seating in front of the lake

Image by jwvein from Pixabay

As mentioned earlier, anxiety is a natural built-in human mechanism that exists for good reason. It is a common emotion along with fear, anger, happiness, and sadness, and it has a very important function in relation to survival. In preparing to deal with a perceived threat, blood pressure, heart rate, and sweating increase, blood flow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immune and digestive system functions are inhibited. This heightened state of alertness drives you into focus with the intention of assessing and addressing the threat.

When confronted with unpleasant and potentially harmful stimuli such as foul odors or tastes, PET-scans show increased blood flow in the amygdala. In these studies, the participants reported moderate anxiety. This might indicate that anxiety is a protective mechanism designed to prevent the organism from engaging in potentially harmful behaviors. This may all still come across as prehistoric, so let's put this into modern day scenarios.

Anxiety can be viewed as a warning sign needed to bring awareness to your current situation to make the necessary changes in your life. Recurrent worry and nervousness can be an indication that some areas of your life are off track and need adjusting. From a relationship falling apart to your job causing a great deal of stress, financial issues or a family tragedy, initial feelings of anxiousness creep in to bring this awareness to the forefront so you can hopefully tackle the issue at hand and move forward.

It can also be a beneficial tool in motivating and preparing you for challenges. Studies have shown that students and athletes who experience some anxiety have displayed improved performance on tests and while competing in competitive sports. Slight anxiety has also proved enhanced performance on cognitive tests.

Simply understanding that this is a natural bodily function that you have the ability to control should help you in getting started with taking back your life. Prolonged anxiety can be toxic to our bodies and mind, causing diseases and emotional problems if left untreated. Even though there can be some potential benefits to experiencing anxiety, and it is worthwhile to point these out to yourself, it can also become a real hindrance to many aspects of your life. Your career, relationships, and personal aspirations may be negatively affected by your struggle with anxiety.

Tips on Reducing Anxiety

When certain symptoms present themselves, the key to reducing anxiety starts with seeking the help of a medical professional. Concerning factors to watch out for:

  • Your constant worrying has become problematic, interfering with your work, relationships, and other aspects of your life.
  • Your fear, worry, and anxiety is overly upsetting and becoming difficult to control.
  • Feelings of depression, abuse of alcohol and drug use, along with other mental health concerns related to feelings of anxiousness.
  • The emergence of physical health problems along with your anxiety.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Your first line of defense is getting diagnosed and discussing your issues in depth with your health care provider. Depending on the severity, there are numerous medications that can be prescribed along with a change in certain lifestyle habits. In actively reducing anxiety, incorporating healthy lifestyle changes can reduce medication to just a stepping stone in your full recovery without having to rely on it as a long-term treatment. Beneficial lifestyle changes include:

  • Limiting alcohol and caffeine
  • Adhering to a well-balanced, nutritional diet
  • Ample weekly amounts of exercise
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Mindful actions including deep breaths, slowly counting to ten, and meditation
  • Talking it out with a friend or family member
  • Seeking counseling with a therapist or physician for professional insight
  • Online private mental health screenings that secure your anonymity while pointing you in the right direction for the help you need. Start here to find your path

There's an astounding amount of resources available when you're willing to explore the right avenues. If you're comfortable enough talking with your health care provider, or you'd rather search privately online in the comfort of your own home, know that many others out there share this affliction with the support groups being readily available and plentiful.

Conclusion

Man at the beach is experiencing anger and anxiety

Reducing anxiety may seem like a lifetime away while attempting to cross a treacherous path when you feel yourself scrambling for relief from the physical and mental anguish that encompasses you. Trying to make sense of such a crippling hindrance while attempting to navigate life is a frightening, suffocating experience that leaves one trying to keep frantically things together.

Too many individuals feel stifled and afraid, unsure of where to look for answers. Just knowing that you're not alone should give you the courage to acknowledge the issue, take a courageous step forward, and demand your life back. It's imperative to understand you don't have to accept these false constraints and you deserve to be free from their limitations.

The internet has many wonderful tools to help you start reducing anxiety and tackling such a debilitating, stifling ailment – without having to worry about conquering the outside world to get there. It's a slow, step-by-step process that you're in control of in making the life improvements you deserve. Live up to your potential on your terms and take back the control that is rightfully yours.

Featured Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas from Pexels

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