Anxiety can actually be good for us. It provides us a surge of energy, splash of wakefulness, and
intrinsic drive to get through the day. It was useful when our ancestors needed to be alert to dangers and it’s useful today.
Unfortunately, anxiety can get out of control and interfere with our work, social lives, and health. It can progressively increase if we do not attend to it. Here are helpful tips to attack everyday anxiety so it doesn’t become a problem.
- Acknowledge it
Anxiety is characterized by intense worry. In general, people report anxiety as an uncomfortable feeling with overwhelming thoughts. While some people sense anxiety as soon as it enters their body, others can’t recognize it. It can manifest differently in different people. It may be accompanied by physiological reactions such as sweating, palpitations, and shortness of breath.Anxiety signals the brain that a possible danger is present. By acknowledging the anxiety, you address the signal rather than dismissing it.
- Stomach breathing
Anxiety activates the flight-or-fight response, and it’s not easily shut down. In acknowledging the anxiety, we prepare our body to calm down, but we can still be left with a pounding heart and flushed face.For example, you may feel calm until you set foot on a stage. Walking off stage can shut the process down. What is it about walking off stage that shuts off this reaction? Breathing.
Breathing regulates your sympathetic nervous system and regulates the release of hormones that cause the physiological reactions. In breathing with your lower stomach, you are able to breathe in the most oxygen and release the most carbon dioxide. In using your full lung capacity with stomach breathing, you will be able to shut down leftover physiological reactions more quickly.
- Be present
In experiencing anxiety, you are worrying about something that possibly could happen. Is a person who’s deathly afraid of rabbits really going to get killed by a rabbit? Probably not. People with this phobia, however, aren’t thinking about what is happening in the present because they are worrying about what the rabbit might do to them in the near future.When you are experiencing anxiety, your mind is tricking you into thinking of the worst-possible outcomes to any situation. It is crippling to live with a constant fear of the future. In learning to be present, you aren’t ignoring the future but accepting it as it comes. You cannot control what happens in the future, you can only control what you are doing here and now.
- Make use of the anxiety
Anxiety can be useful. Use that surge of energy you feel when anxious to complete an activity. On days where you are feeling elevated distress, try going for a run or taking a trip to the gym. It would be a waste of energy not to use that natural injection of dopamine and serotonin your body has given you.
- Don’t ignore it
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Ignoring it won’t cure it. It’s a temporary solution. Meanwhile anxiety will accumulate and leave you weak after so many attempts to suppress it.In attending to the anxiety, you are choosing to take control of it. It is much better to attack the monsters in your closet than to close the door and pretend they don’t exist.
- Let your mind help
The mind is a powerful tool that can help make our lives easier. Our brains are also imperfect, however, and we should strive to know our weaknesses as much as our strengths.
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