Physiology dictates that we experience stress when met with an unfavorable circumstance. This is supposed to jump-start our survival instinct and help us react accordingly. Anxiety is a kink in this system, where the increased psychological tension and uneasiness leads to an inability to function effectively.
It is the most common mental illness in the U.S. with over 40 million people estimated to suffer from the disorder.
It can present suddenly as an acute attack (with dizzy spells, headaches, nausea, heart palpitations) or can progress to a more chronic state where anxiety becomes a staple of daily life.
The Potential Dangers of Anxiety
- Interference with normal functioning
The symptoms of anxiety can paralyze the ability to perform effectively either at work or at home
- Symptom of a psychiatric illness
Illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder present with recurring bouts of anxiety in the early stages
- Progression to depression
The immense strain put on the brain in the long-term by the vicious cycle that is anxiety can lead to depression.
Quick Tips on how to overcome anxiety
1. The serenity prayer
This is not so much a prayer as it is a principle to live by:
The wisdom to accept the things we can’t change and the courage to change those we can.
Accepting your humanity and the limitations that come with it, will help ease your worries.
2. Find a support network
This could be a loved one or a group of people dealing with the same anxiety issues.
This backbone of trust and support will go a long way in helping you deal with anxiety
3. Create a daily fitness regimen
Exercise helps balance out hormones that increase during stress.
Proper exercise will also help improve your sleep patterns, this is very important as the mind requires sleep to recover from the stresses of the day.
4. Mother nature’s anxiolytics
Use them by burning incense while meditating, adding them to baths or even during a massage.
5. Adopt a simplistic and positive attitude towards life
Begin by cutting down on any activities that are not essential but end up overwhelming you.
Second, accept your failures and your successes in stride and know that neither defines you
6. Last but perhaps one of the most important is balance
There must be balance in our lives.
From what you allow to come into your mind down to the things you eat.
I believe many of our mental disorders and health-related issues have a lot to do with common habits of unhappy people, therefore we must learn how we keep a balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
Let’s look at a very revealing infographic that will give you helpful additional information:
As you can see, one of the most common mental illnesses in the world has to do with anxiety. It is also believed by many, that anxiety is a root for many other illnesses.
When you begin to make the connection of the mind to the body, it starts to make sense.
Having mental illnesses such as anxiety begins to have a ripple effect throughout your body, which is why it is extremely important that you seek the help of a professional that can help you with this sooner rather than later.
5 Ways to Defeat Anxiety
When not well controlled, anxiety and panic attacks can be terrifying and drastically alter your life. Anxiety attacks are often so terrifying when they first appear that every detail of that first attack is permanently etched in your mind. If you are someone who tends to suffer from anxiety attacks, you may be thinking of ways to stop them in their tracks. When you can learn different techniques to prevent a panic attack, you can start to control them instead of having them effectively control you.
Panic attacks cause the attack victim to experience a sudden and intense fear, even when there is no visible danger present or an identifiable trigger. This unfounded fear triggers your body’s emergency system, and physical fight-or-flight reactions take over. This causes your body to react as if it is being attacked and start fighting for your life.
Anxiety and panic attacks can affect anyone at any time without warning. This causes people to start to fear when and where they might experience a panic attack again. They no longer feel like they are in control of their body and begin to limit their daily activities dramatically because of it. When this vicious cycle is allowed to continue, your world will get smaller and smaller until you prefer not to leave your home.
The signs of a panic attack tend to peak within a few minutes. Although panic attacks are usually brief, in some people, they can last for several hours. Once the panic attack has subsided, you may feel exhausted, as if you just ran a marathon or climbed a mountain. The best thing you can do is to learn how to stop panic attacks before they even start. Here are five effective techniques that can interrupt the cycle of anxiety attacks and stop them before they start.
1. Focus on Better Breathing
The one thing you need to know when experiencing a panic attack or general stress is how to breathe properly. When we panic, our bodies naturally begin to breathe incorrectly. Unfortunately, the more inefficient your breathing, the worse the fear becomes, and a vicious cycle of panic begins that leaves you feeling completely out of control.
As a general rule of thumb, if only your shoulders and chest rise when you inhale, you are breathing in a way that will significantly worsen your stress. This is why it is so important to make sure that as you breathe, your abdomen expands with each breath. When you’re feeling anxious, this can end up feeling unnatural, and even like you’re making things worse. It is essential that you keep doing it, no matter how uncomfortable you feel. When you breathe properly through your diaphragm, in only a matter of minutes, your nervous system will begin to go out of sympathetic mode.
The other vital thing to try to remember is that you should spend more time exhaling than inhaling. Making sure to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Again, you may feel uncomfortable and find it difficult to manage proper breathing when in the middle of an anxiety attack, but it is essential that you be persistent. Some doctors even recommend making the “shhh” sound when you exhale because it naturally slows your breathing.
2. Take Control of Your Thoughts
Have you ever made a phone call and ended up on hold? There’s the annoying music from the elevator, the wait, and no one to talk to. This experience can have a sedative effect on your energy. When you experience a panic attack, this is the kind of atmosphere you want to try to cultivate in your mind. You should try to put your anxious thoughts and panic on hold.
Many meditation techniques and anxiety reduction methods have the same effect on your anxious thoughts. If your particular anxiety is the result of your constant worrying or brooding, pause for a moment, and simply stop. Stop thinking and clear your mind. Stop that inner chatter talking to yourself internally.
You can encounter many other distracting thoughts when you try to control your thoughts, which make you feel like you are too scared in order to have any control over your thoughts. However, being consistent is the key. Meditation experts will tell you that you should keep leading your mind to emptiness every time it begins to wander. This technique will also work when you experience a panic attack. If you can bring your mind back to the present and take it out of the past or future, you can effectively stop the panic attack in its tracks.
So, when you experience the symptoms of an anxiety attack, remember the last time you were on hold. Imagine that you are the telephone operator and that your mind is the customer who refuses to be put on hold, and then what so many companies do to us and leave your panic on hold.
3. Practice Relaxation of Your Body
Stress and anxiety are directly connected to tension in our muscles and body. You need to find the most relaxed and calming place you
can find when a panic attack begins, no matter where you are.
This could be, for you, sitting in a chair, lying down, or standing up.
Do what you are most comfortable with. You must stop doing any strenuous exercise that will increase your heart rate, since this will make your panic attack worse.
While relaxing, where you feel most comfortable, begin practicing the progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) technique. PMR is a deep relaxation technique that has been shown to manage symptoms of stress and anxiety appropriately, as well as alleviate insomnia and reduce symptoms of chronic pain. Begin by rolling your shoulders to try to loosen them up and release some of the tension.
Then, as you inhale, contract a group of muscles for five to ten seconds, then as you exhale, suddenly release the tension in that muscle. Give yourself 10-20 seconds to relax before moving on to the next muscle group.
As you release tension in each muscle group, try to focus on the changes you feel when the muscle is relaxed. Using images in conjunction with stress relief can be helpful. For example, you can try imagining the stressful feelings that flow from your body as each muscle group relaxes.
Gradually work up your body, contracting, and relaxing each of your muscle groups. Once you’ve gone through each of your muscle groups, take a little time to stretch the muscles to help you feel relaxed and relaxed.
4. Exercise Regularly
There are numerous benefits that you can get from exercising regularly. In addition to improving your energy levels, improving your mood, and promoting quality sleep, regular exercise can also be a proactive way for panic attack and anxiety disorder sufferers to release pent-up tension and reduce feelings of worry. And fear.
Regular exercise has been shown to help alleviate some of the common problems caused by anxiety and nervousness. For starters, exercise can help reduce tension and tightness throughout the body of anxiety sufferers.
Second, regular exercise helps produce endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood-enhancing hormone that the body uses to combat pain and stress and can help decrease your sensitivity to your body’s reaction to anxiety, in addition to reducing panic attack severity and frequency. Finally, exercising regularly can help reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body and help improve your sense of well-being.
Participating in regular exercise is one way you can begin to proactively practice self-care and quickly overcome anxiety and panic attacks. You will begin to note a difference in your overall self-confidence, along with the many other advantages of a daily exercise routine, which can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall physical health that you can proactively start to practice self-care and overcome anxiety and panic attacks quickly.
You will begin to note a change in your overall self-confidence, along with the many other benefits of a daily workout routine, which will help to alleviate anxiety and enhance your overall physical health.
5. Change The Way You Eat
Although your diet is unlikely to make you anxious, what you eat could make it worse if you already have an anxiety disorder, and you could benefit from making adjustments to your diet. A growing number of studies point to a link between what you eat and what your mood is like normally.
Certain foods have been shown to help nourish your body and ease feelings of distress, while other foods can cause changes that could cause your anxiety to increase.
When it comes to the food you eat, it can significantly affect your anxiety levels. You will need to watch what you are eating and make some
dietary changes if you are struggling with regular anxiety and panic attacks. You can begin by avoiding foods that can lead to your symptoms of anxiety.
You should aim to restrict the following foods from your intake.
- Fried foods are extremely difficult to digest, have very little nutritional content, and contribute to heart problems. The stress they put on your body as you try to digest them can increase your feelings of distress.
- Alcohol dehydrates you and disrupts your nutritional and hormonal balance. It can also lead to physical symptoms due to toxins that can trigger anxiety attacks.
- Coffee and other types of caffeine are known to increase heart rate and create sensations that can lead to or mimic panic attacks.
- Dairy products, while not necessarily harmful, when consumed in excess, can increase your adrenaline levels and may add to your anxiety levels.
- Refined sugars are the added sugars found in juices and cookies, and a slew of other products. These types of sugars often stimulate the body and can create nervousness that can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
- Acidic foods like pickles, yogurt, sour cream, eggs, wine, and liver create acid. Evidence indicates that foods that cause acid will cause a decrease in your levels of magnesium. It has been shown that magnesium levels have a strong association with symptoms of anxiety.
- Avoiding these foods will not cure your anxiety, but they may provide some relief from your symptoms. If your diet consists primarily of these types of foods, by cutting them down, you are likely to notice some significant results on your anxiety.
Anxiety is something most people experience from time to time. We all experience negative emotions such as fear, stress, anger, and doubt, which are normal emotions. However, when these emotions get out of control and start to take over our lives, it could point to a more serious condition. Millions of individuals suffer from anxiety disorders, so if you feel like your anxious and negative thoughts have taken over your life, you are not alone.
It’s time to take control and learn how to end your anxiety and the subsequent panic attacks if you’re tired of constantly living in fear and sick of anxious thoughts that never seem to stop. These easy-to-use techniques can show you how to take control of your mind and ultimately end your anxiety and panic attacks. Before you know it, you will have control over your thoughts, and you will have your life back.
You can find additional information on the healing connection between the mind and body, this will help you understand how mind and body go hand in hand.
The anxiety infographic was made by and published on Tower of Power
Photo credit: Holly Lay