Anxiety is a tough emotional and mental state to manage, especially if prolonged or acute. Even short-term anxiety is hard to deal with.
Anxiety can make us lose precious hours of valuable sleep, distract us from work and our loved ones, raise our heart beat and adrenaline levels, cause panic attacks and affect our overall quality of life and happiness. In this post, I will address how to deal with anxiety.
A first step is to understand why the anxiety is occurring and to determine whether it is reality-based.
Is there a real or an imagined threat? A real threat is that layoffs are occurring within the workplace and the possibility of being laid off from your job is very possible. That is just one example that would cause reality-based anxiety.
An imagined threat is that someone close to you may or may not develop a serious illness in the future. Even though there are no signs or symptoms now, other family members have developed this illness, and therefore, you are worried about it now, in the present day. This is just one example of non-reality based anxiety because there is no real cause for concern yet.
To worry about events that are likely to happen or that are happening makes sense. To worry about events that are not yet happening is unnecessary worry and does not make sense.
So, sometimes we can worry about future imaginary events that are not really happening, which can cause unnecessary anxiety.
In the case where the anxiety is based on a future event that has not happened yet, it is important to recognize that the anxiety is not reality-based before the anxiety starts to take over. If you find that you are a chronic worrier focusing on imagined events, read my article How to Stop Worrying and Be Happy.
If the anxiety is reality-based, there are several ways to deal with the anxiety.
One method is to try deep breathing exercises when the anxiety takes over and you cannot concentrate on anything else. Try taking ten or more deep breaths, in and out, focusing only on your breathing and not on your thoughts. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale deeply through your mouth. Release all your thoughts and relax your body. You will feel more free of worry and more relaxed. Do this as many times as needed whenever the anxiety arises.
Another method for dealing with anxiety is positive affirmation self-talk. Positive affirmations help to improve one’s overall outlook about the anxiety-provoking situation. Affirmations are very helpful, especially for shorter-term anxiety provoking situations.
For example, if you are facing a layoff, you can positively tell yourself, “I will land on my feet again. I will find another job. It may take some time, but I will be OK.” Positive affirmations can help ease the anxiety you feel and lessen the severity of the situation.
Another method for managing anxiety is to join a support group around the anxiety-provoking issue you are facing.
Let’s say you are facing divorce after 20 years of marriage and the idea of being single again is causing extreme anxiety. You can join a support group for newly divorced singles and talk about the issues you are experiencing. This can help ease your anxieties by not feeling so alone and by talking it through with people who can relate to your situation and feelings. That is just one example.
Another method I would recommend is to identify a therapist and get on anti-anxiety medications, if the anxiety is prolonged or more severe. Prolonged anxiety can interfere with one’s quality of life in many ways. Therapy and medications will help, in combined form. Therapy will address the issues mentally and emotionally, while medications will address the anxiety physiologically and can provide physical relief.
So, there are a few suggestions on how to deal with anxiety, ranging from the short-term to more severe. Anxiety is manageable through several means. Know this, follow a few simple steps, and your life will be much easier and much happier.