Managing Anxiety: A Guide to Coping with and Overcoming Anxiety

How To Deal With Anxiety

Anxiety is like salt. It can be a natural addition to life or completely beat off the taste. It’s one thing to worry about before an exam or because of deadlines. It is quite another to constantly experience the fear that something bad is about to happen. We tell you how to reduce anxiety and curb fear of the present and future.

Anxiety is a response to fear

The human body is a system in which Everything is not just that. Anxiety is a sign that your safety is threatened. You are afraid of something. The body feels as if it is in direct physical danger. Breathing and heartbeat become more frequent, palms sweat and adrenaline level rises in the blood. The person shakes. He cannot sit still, sleep or eat.

There is a working level of anxiety – when experiences do not interfere with life, the body reacts in a healthy way to something terrible or unpleasant. Each working level has its own. If you’re worried about the pandemic and your friend isn’t, her working anxiety level is lower. There are no non-anxious people: many are worried about public speaking or moving because of the first date. These are objective grounds for concern.

But for some, anxiety goes beyond the working level. Such people never feel secure. The fear that lives in them is like a radioactive capsule. She distorts reality, in which, in fact, Everything is fine. Due to constant anxiety, you can lose your appetite for a long time, earn insomnia, and experience panic attacks. See a psychologist or therapist if anxiety has taken control of your body. You can overcome this only with a specialist.

When quarantine began, Anna’s dream came true – she was transferred to remote work. But now she can’t work with the same dedication and passion. Anna cannot concentrate on anything. She feels constant helplessness. All food seems unappetizing and even disgusting. It is impossible to cope with anxiety and to build a plan – even more so. You just have to sit and wait for the unknown. But Anna just can’t sit: she jumps up from anxiety every now and then and walks around the apartment, rearranging things from place to place.

Anna worries about sudden changes in her life. The changes turned out to be too deep – she was even forbidden to go to work! The world seemed to have lost its norm and stood upside down.

Peter always checks his alarm three times when he goes to bed. The alarm clock has to be set for exactly seven in the morning. Otherwise, Peter will be late for work – and worse, only leave work on time. They don’t take it that way. In the morning, Peter keeps looking at his watch. He understands he cannot be late – it takes only fifteen minutes to get there, and he has a whole hour and a half to spare. But Peter is preparing like a fire and descends from the ninth floor only by the stairs: what if the elevator gets stuck? On the go, he looks through Internet maps – suddenly they dug up the road, suddenly there are accidents and traffic jams?

Peter only exhales when he gets to work. Anxiety again covers him at the end of the day when he has to get up and go home in front of everyone. Peter has chronic insomnia: he can never fall asleep immediately because he is afraid of oversleeping.

Peter is anxious about how he is judged by others. He is afraid of being fired and will have nothing to live on. He is also afraid of public humiliation. Suddenly Peter leaves work on time, and everyone after him says: “Not good, Peter. You work like it’s just for the money.” Peter can’t help his anxiety.

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How To Deal With Anxiety

Anxiety is Due to a Trauma That a Person Once Experienced

In the life of an anxious person, something constantly happened that deeply hurt him. For example, because of my father’s work, I had to move a lot and change schools. You were not friendly by nature. New classmates noticed this and made fun of you. Now it’s hard to change jobs: you don’t know what new colleagues will be like. To avoid this danger, one must constantly be on alert and know how to control the aircraft in an emergency – because suddenly, the pilot will not cope! How anxious a person grows depends on individual characteristics and other factors: genetics, environment, environmental characteristics, and much more. All this together determines how a person behaves when he is anxious.

One day, Anna looks at the computer monitor but sees nothing. She recalls a childhood in which she was constantly beaten. The reason could be anything: she didn’t clean the floor well, she didn’t warm up dinner, and she got a C in math. Or mom and dad could be in a bad mood. It was impossible to predict anything. And after the punishment ended and her parents stopped paying attention to her, Anna ran away to Mary’s neighbour to complain, cry, show bruises and play princess. Where is she now, Mary?

Anna wants to go to friends, go for a walk, or go to the movies. There are so many places, people and events outside the home. But nothing is impossible, nothing at all! You can only sit aimlessly in front of the computer and shove a lunch that does not go down your throat.

Since childhood, Anna has been used to living in dangerous unpredictability; in itself, she does not frighten her. But during the lockdown, Anna loses what calmed her before. Now she cannot hug a friend, walk in the park or eat ice cream on a bench. Therefore, Anna’s anxiety level skyrocketed.

Peter goes home at 9 pm – he is angry and very hungry. Why did he stay again? After all, he didn’t even work. In fact – he pretended to. If someone had told him: “Peter, everything is fine. You are doing a good job,” he would stop worrying.

But he rarely said those words. Even dad. Even when Peter brought home a diary with only A’s. Even when he got the part of the snowman in the school play. The father just grimaced and shrugged.

Peter had an indifferent father who did not show in any way that he loved his son. The boy tried to earn his approval as a child, but he never heard important words for himself. Peter has grown but still needs praise. When Peter is not praised, he feels like he is being rejected.

There Are Techniques That Help Deal With Anxiety

Do Breathing Exercises

Four seconds – inhale, two – pause, six – exhale. Concentrate on how the air passes through the nose, the lungs fill up, and the chest muscles work. Physical sensations help you to feel in the moment, safe and sound. If you focus all your attention on the body and breath, the brain will not have a resource for fear. During breathing exercises, you can create a vivid image that calms you: inhale a blue cloud of power, exhale black anxiety.

Count Raven

Focus on what is happening outside of you, not inside of you. To do this, you can count the birds you meet along the way. Or people in red hats. Or the number of white shoelaces on the subway passengers. This is a good way to slow down and drive out anxiety: you will distract yourself from obsessive thoughts about danger and focus on what surrounds you in the real world.

Peter can’t sleep. He has checked the alarm clock fifteen times, the room is cool, and the pillow under his head lies exactly as it should, but sleep does not come. Then Peter remembers the old children’s record “Three Fat Men” – where Dr Gaspard Arnery counted elephants before falling asleep. Peter begins to count: “Two elephants and one elephant – three elephants, three elephants and two elephants – five elephants …”. He closes his eyes. Elephants of many colours slowly pass by him: “Seven elephants and one elephant – eight elephants.” Peter doesn’t notice how his thoughts calm down, and he falls asleep for the first time in a week.

Slow Down

Breathe slowly and move. Mentally or aloud, pronounce each of your actions or describe what surrounds you. Focus on physical sensations. How soft are the slippers you put your feet in? What air touches your skin? How does tap water flow through your fingers?

In the middle of the day, Anna finds herself again rearranging all the bottles on the bathroom shelf ten times already. She gets up and goes to make herself some coffee. Anna says aloud, “Look, I take out the Turk and pour two spoons from the bag. I turn on the gas and put the Turk on fire. The spoon is cold. The smell is tart and strong. I love this smell. After Anna drinks coffee, she feels that the anxiety has receded and she can work calmly.

You Can Reduce Anxiety By Changing Your Lifestyle

Don’t Treat Anxiety With Things That Have Nothing to Do With Its Cause

Food, sex and alcohol are three heroes that are completely useless against anxiety. A cake won’t save you from the fear you feel when a police car drives by. Alcohol will not help you deal with your mortgage anxiety. You do not darn a broken pipe with silk threads, do you?

Go in for Sports

This does not mean you have to work out in the gym if you do not like it. Walk briskly, swim, and dance at home to your favourite music. Movement helps to reduce adrenaline levels and relax muscles. It helps to cope with the physical manifestations of anxiety.

On another sleepless night, Peter realizes he can’t even lie down. The elephants don’t help him anymore. The whole body is as if brought together and tied into a knot. Peter goes outside and runs around the house – circle, second, third, and faster. Twenty-two laps later, he returns home. There were no thoughts left in my head. Peter takes a shower and falls asleep like the dead.

Observe Informational Hygiene

Don’t read social media, especially before bed. Exclude news. Unsubscribe from telegram channels that tell you about political protests or the ruble exchange rate – subscribe to accounts with red pandas. If you are afraid to be isolated and unaware of what is happening, leave yourself one telegram channel or one social network. Agree with yourself that before going to bed, you can only watch stories on Instagram – you can’t open Facebook after them. Reduce the amount of negative information, and the level of anxiety will decrease.

Anna flips through her Facebook feed and suddenly realizes that other people’s posts do not calm her down and do not support her. Friends in San Francisco and New York suffer just as much as she does at home. Relatives in Boston publish photos of how they went to a cafe – Anna is jealous of them. Facebook makes her feel lonely. Anna is afraid that she cannot see anyone in her own city, and in Boston, no one is waiting for her now. Anna turns off the phone and loudly, for the apartment, says: “We don’t read this anymore.”

Keep a Diary of Emotions

Write down every day how you feel. What caused anxiety, what emotions did you experience, and how fear affected the body. Write down the thoughts that came up when you were anxious. Outline the actions you have taken. This way, you will find the triggers that make you anxious. You will also find beliefs that fuel fear. Suddenly you will realize that you are worried because you do not know how to do Everything perfectly. It’s just that once in childhood, parents repeated that the best is the enemy of the good.

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Anxiety can be Shared With Loved Ones

If you are constantly anxious, share your feelings with people you trust. They will help you find the source of the problem causing such great anxiety. Or just listen – this is also a lot.

Talk to a Supporting Person

To understand the problem, a “second mind” is often needed. This is not necessarily a psychotherapist – any close person who knows how to sympathize can play this role. Share your concerns, and describe them as honestly as possible. The story about fear works for the psyche as if Everything has already happened – which means there is nothing to be afraid of.

Anna does not like to bother other people with her problems. But this time, it is very difficult for her, so she calls her sister and asks: “Just listen, don’t say anything.” The sister listens in silence and then says that she will come to Anna’s house as soon as possible. Together they will make their favourite chicken pasta. The sister says to Anna: “Viruses come and go, but the chicken is forever! I’m with you; we’ll get through this.” Anna is crying. It becomes easier for her.

Explain to loved ones without metaphors and hints why you are worried

Relatives like to say, “Don’t worry.” They say it if they don’t understand how to help. Of course, this is very infuriating – especially when you really feel bad, and people nearby with this phrase, as it were, mean, “I did Everything I could. Then figure it out yourself.” Have at least one big and honest conversation with your loved ones.

Explain that when you are anxious, you are a little penguin. Yes, a bird with wings, but you cannot fly. If you throw a penguin off a cliff with the words “Yes, it’s okay!”, He will not fly but will break. There is no guarantee that those close to you will hear you and be more careful with your feelings. But you will know that you did Everything that depended on you.

How To Deal With Anxiety

See a Psychotherapist

You may not notice the moment when anxiety takes control of your lifestyle and becomes an integral character trait. Working as a psychotherapist will help you determine if your anxiety level is working or if it has long been exceeded. A specialist will help you find the root of anxiety – and if not uproot it completely, then at least learn how to manage this feeling.

Anna and her sister are peeling garlic for the chicken sauce in the kitchen. Then they will go for a walk and hold hands. Anna has a good dream again. She is generally doing well.

Peter is driving to work. As usual, he counts the passengers. It helps him until he realizes the bus has been at the crossroads for five extra minutes. The chest is squeezing. Peter can’t breathe, his hands are shaking, and his whole body is soft. Thoughts are spinning in my head: “Everything is kind of meaningless. Why me? Why this bus? Why work? I will die. Now or later, it doesn’t matter.” He wakes up on the bus floor, and one of the passengers shouts: “Open the window.”

Peter realizes that he has had another panic attack. They’ve been happening more and more lately. Peter doesn’t know how to cope. He read advice on the Internet, but at the moment of the attack, he immediately forgets about them. Peter is afraid to talk about it with someone, but he is even more afraid of falling on the bus in front of everyone. When Peter arrives at work, he immediately opens Google and looks for a psychologist.

You can choose a psychologist at Online-Therapy: for this, you must fill out a short questionnaire. If a psychologist does not suit you, the service will offer you another specialist. It will help you with the choice until you find a trustworthy psychologist.

Passionate mental health advocate providing resources to those in need. Enjoys learning through reading and documentaries. Aiming to promote mental well-being.
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