What is Anxiety and How Can You Cope?

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anxietyAnxiety is a terrible thing. It can range from mild to severe. Anxiety is defined as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes.” Basically, anxiety causes a person to worry excessively about things that haven’t happened, or worry over things that have happened and what they should have done differently, or any of a million and one things. Everyone worries from time to time, but anxiety is an entirely different beast.

People with anxiety overthink everything. I personally have over analyzed past situations in my head, replaying them over and over and over, thinking about what I could have said or done differently, replaying the scenario if I had done something differently. I struggle in social situations. I usually do okay in small groups, but I hate being in large crowds. At parties, I end up being a wallflower. I don’t like to be awkward and I’m always afraid of interrupting other people’s conversations, so it’s easier to sit on the sidelines.

Sometimes severe anxiety leads to panic attacks. I have had a few of these and they are terrible. I’ve hyperventilated until my arms felt numb, my heart racing, crying uncontrollably, unable to catch my breath. There are various triggers for panic attacks, and a person can’t always predict what those triggers might be. This informative article from WebMD gives more information on panic attacks.

How can a person cope with anxiety and reduce the effects?

As always, please remember I am not a doctor and this article is presented for informational purposes only.

Calm Yourself Down

In the grip of anxiety, it can be difficult to calm yourself. Sometimes I experience irrational thoughts and it always seems to be worse when I’m alone. If my husband is with me, he seems to know exactly what to say and the best way to calm me down. It’s important to get your breathing under control. I tend to hyperventilate, but some people hold their breath in an effort to calm down. Taking deep, calming breaths can alleviate the symptoms much more quickly.

There are some methods that are helpful whether you are experiencing mild anxiety or a full-blown panic attack.

One technique that is helpful is the 54321 method. It goes like this:

  • Name 5 things you can see in the (such as a chair or photo)
  • Name 4 things you can feel (such as my feet on the floor, the air on my skin)
  • Name 3 things you can hear right now (such as the radio, people talking outside)
  • Name 2 things you can smell right now (such as food, perfume)
  • Name 1 good thing about yourself (such as I am strong)

There are other techniques that can help, too. If you Google “grounding techniques for anxiety” you will find plenty of ideas.

Reassure Yourself

The following statements can help when you’re in the grip of anxiety:

  • I know this will fade away.
  • I know a panic attack can’t hurt me.
  • I know that I am not in danger.
  • I know I will be okay.

A lot of my anxiety stems from self-esteem issues. This isn’t something that can be fixed easily. After a bad episode with anxiety, it can help to remind yourself that you are valuable. The following statements are a great way to reassure yourself:

  • I am not my mistakes.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • I am enough.
  • I choose to be positive.
  • I matter. I am allowed to say “no” to others and “yes” to myself.

Other Methods of Dealing with Anxiety

Sometimes you need a little more to calm your anxiety. There are several essential oils that can alleviate anxiety. You can put these oils in your diffuser or inhale directly from the bottle. These include:

  • Lavender oil is calming
  • Ylang ylang helps with optimism and soothes fearfulness
  • Bergamot relieves stress as well as helping with depression and anxiety

Another product I love is Rescue Remedy, made by Bach Flower Remedies. Amazon carries it here. It comes in drops, spray, cream, and a few other forms. I personally love the spray. When I’m anxious I just spray in the back of my throat and it helps almost immediately.

Make sure to get enough sleep and eat right. It’s hard to function when you’re tired or not anxietyproperly nourished. Make sure to give yourself some me-time. Take a walk, work on a hobby or project, or soak in a hot bath. Do something that will help you relax and leave you feeling refreshed.

What helps you with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!

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