10 Successful Ways to Deal with Anxiety
Are you struggling with anxiety? If you have considered medicating, you’re not alone and here are a few things to consider.
First, anxiety is not bad, the effects of prolonged anxiety ARE, and there is a vast difference!
For over two decades, I struggled with extreme anxiety and depression to the point of suicidal thoughts that were debilitating. The hopeless despair stalked me like a hungry lion, merciless in feeding me thoughts of loss and convincing me I was unlovable.
By the time I was thirty years old, I’d had over thirty jobs, none of which would rehire me or offer a reference, not that I blame them.
I struggled with finances, cycling my credit from excellent, rebuilding it back up to good only to declare bankruptcy and begin all over again.
I couldn’t hold down a relationship from the bipolar emotions that bombarded me into isolation, racking up two divorces before I was forty, one woman I’ve never spoke to again.
By the time I was 45, I was out of answers, desperate and planning my own death, but too scared to execute any of the plans. I was, as the saying goes, at the end of my road and needed help.
Modern medicine, even with its vast advancements towards holistic practices, is guilty of easing the symptoms, yet not offering the cure. Our bodies tell us everything in whispers, but our minds communicate in screams, and mine was yelling so loud for me to surrender, I was nearly deaf in one ear with 30% hearing loss from the tinnitus.
So when you’re body is feeling anxious, it’s asking you to deal with the underlying cause, to get present and go deeper.
Your mind is the primal part of you with only one job: keep the body alive. So when the body is in pain, it sends one of three responses:
Anxiety is an adaptive process that is critical for our survival, warning us of potential danger, to slow down and pay attention to threats both internal and external. When you’re mindful, you can “check in” ask from a clear state, “what is happening to me?” Breathing calmly, you can signal your brain to lower its stimulus and make a logical assessment.
But this isn’t what most of us do. In fear, we freak out. And when we freak out consistently, the anxiety becomes acute, uncontrollable or chronic, causing massive disruption in our patterns and interference with our lives.
And that’s when seeking professional treatment is key.
Here’s a list of the obvious and not-so-obvious signs that it’s time to get treatment and seek help.
1. You have an intolerance for uncertainty and an intolerance for feeling anxious.
2. You can’t leave your house because you fear losing control and panicking, so you live in a highly restricted comfort zone.
3. You’ve lost your personal right to have a voice and don’t express your personal preferences and make clear boundaries. You’re used often or taken advantage of, and you deal with it rather than making it right.
4. You experience physical sensations of anxiety such as shortness of breath, shaking, heart palpitations, cold and hot flashes. You have panic attacks that literally shut you down.
5. You have a restrictive phobia such as fear of heights, flying, or something else where you’re out of control.
6. You can’t stop worrying. Waiting for the shoe to drop, looking for the impending doom, and it lasts for hours, often disrupting sleep patterns and creating muscle tension and loss of concentration.
7. Your anxiety prevents you from engaging activities, whether they be academic, occupation or social without great unease. You are highly ritualistic about where you eat, drive, or activities you will and won’t do.
8. You have safety behaviors that temporarily relieve your anxiety. Avoid eye contact, social situations, constantly check your cell phone, plan out your driving routes and have endless lists of to-dos so everything is in order. Friends think you’re controlling.
9. You’re incredibly self-conscious for fear of being rejected or made a fool of.
10. You regularly worry about the future; ruminate about past mistakes; and dread having to meet daily challenges. Everything is a burden. You sigh a lot.
11. You make problems out of everything, no matter how small. There is always a worse case scenario, and it’s exaggerated to the 100th degree.
12. You avoid seeking opportunities and taking risks, Knaus said. “You settle for a safe mate, a safe job, a safe life, but you still don’t feel safe.”
If you’re experiencing these signs like I was, you might wonder what to do next. Before considering medicating, consider these ten steps that can often bring massive relief.
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1. Start with acceptance: You are not the definition of anxiety. It’s not personal, there is no fault or blame, it exists. As the ole saying goes, “What you resist, persists.” Get present, breath it out and accept yourself completely in this moment.
2. Become Mindful: Slowing down and getting conscious to daily life is powerful. It’s called Mindfulness and there are countless videos on YouTube introducing different modalities.
3. Begin a Meditation Practice: It’s a practice, not an achievement or goal. Meditation is to tap into the deeper truth held within you and calm the over-active mind. I recommend beginning in short bursts of 10 minutes or fewer and using an app such as CALM, Insight Timer, MyLife or my personal favorite, Brain Sync with Kelly Howell.
4. Get the Nutrition your body needs: Literally, you are what you eat. The effects of nutrition on the body are paramount to waking up the mind and sustaining life. Whether you follow one particular tribe such as Vegan or Paleo is less important as practicing mindful eating habits that get the body the nutrition it needs and limit the fast food, alcohol and sugar addictions that culture makes us crave. I heard nutrition best summed up in this simple statement, “Health, baring any genetic problem or disease is about clean blood and that comes from quality nutrients, clean elimination and good hydration.” Wow, that is really easy to remember and do.
5. Develop a Spirituality Practice: Many find a calming effect to spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, yoga and other modalities that surrender the human nature to something bigger or greater outside of themselves. Call it worship, religion, or just checking in with yourself, creating a safe space of inner-connectedness proven to have powerful results.
6. Get into nature: We as a species have grown apart from nature. The elements of water, metal, earth, fire and wind are all of mother nature’s forces used to create global change to land masses. The power they carry and connecting to that raw power through nature can have amazing effects in our ability to surrender.
7. Support Groups: The ego has one message: “You’re the only one with this problem, and you’re all alone!” Not true! Getting in a safe support group that will allow you to share and connect with others is a great way to relax and realize you’re not in a defeated battle of solitude. You’ll hear from others that often have horrendous scenarios they’re dealing with and will give you perspective. Four years, I attended the 12 steps group of Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and found tremendous comfort, friendships and healing.
8. Talk to a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the gold standard for a broad range of different anxieties and co-existing conditions as an evidence-based method that helps people overcome anxiety thinking, tolerate unpleasant anxiety sensations, and engage in problem-related corrective behaviors. To find a local therapist, look at these helpful websites: Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies; Anxiety and Depression Association of America; and the International OCD Foundation.
9. Try a cognitive-behavioral workbook on anxiety: That’s right, time to do the actual work. Most, if not all, anxiety comes from something in the past that is purging its way to the top. If you had a splinter under your skin, it’s doubtful it would just remain there forever. Rather, the skin would blister and eventually the body would naturally eradicate the foreign substance to the surface. Our minds, our emotions are no different as we constantly heal, grow and become brighter versions of ourselves.
10. Practice self-care. Daily life with stresses and strains, and they add to what psychologist Bruce McEwen calls, “the factor, or wearing and tearing the body with stress,” These wearing and tearing effects can perpetuate a vicious cycle of increased vulnerability to stress and more anxiety. There are many things you can do to reduce the load, he said, including, “getting adequate sleep and exercise, avoiding smoking and drinking excessively, and healthfully navigating negative emotions.”
11. BONUS for the experimental: Psychedelics. This is a revolutionary new topic and a record number of people are experiencing not just relief, but healing from chronic anxiety and depression. In the summer of 2018, I attended Rythmia in Costa Rica and sat with Ayhuasca for five straight nights and have never been the same. A word of caution — do NOT experiment with this or other psychedelics alone. Seek out a trained shaman and read extensively from others that have experience with it so you can be properly led through and supported in the experience.
Experiencing excessive anxiety can feel scary, uncomfortable and confusing. The good news anxiety is highly treatable. Those who want to get better usually do.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, seek professional help for proper evaluation but mostly, don’t give up, and get with other people for help, trusting that there IS a way out and life on the other side is quite beautiful.
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I write about Romance, Relationships, Men’s Health & Healing, Life Purpose and Sexy Short Stories. I coach you how to connect to your authentic voice so you can change the trajectory of your life. For more visit => www.RobinReedAuthor.com.