Anxiety can be caused by a number of factors, and it can hit you at any time. However, you can train your brain to avoid anxiety by following these 5 easy steps.
I have accepted fear as a part of life – specifically the fear of change…. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back. ~Erica Jong
Anxiety can present itself in a number of ways. People may experience temporary feelings of anxiety in certain stressful situations which are perfectly normal, then there’s the more persistent or chronic anxiety that can be overwhelming and absolutely debilitating for people who suffer from it.
After years of research by experts in the field, the actual cause of chronic anxiety still remains unclear, although things like serotonin imbalance, outside stressors such as one’s environment, and genetics have all been proven to potentially be triggers for attacks of anxiety.
Chronic anxiety can do serious damage to both one’s mental and physical health. It is a self perpetuating cycle where the inability for someone to recognize the difference between situations that provoke temporary anxiety and situations that are an actual threat, is constant. Prolonged exposure to situations like this can alter circuits in the brain, long term, which control cognitive function and mood, and spur on further symptoms of anxiety.
We have listed some effective ways in which to deal with chronic anxiety below:
Everyone will tell you that exercise is good for you, and they’re not wrong. Scientists believe that as little as five minutes of aerobic exercise is what it takes to start stimulating the body’s natural anti-anxiety mechanisms. A brisk walk around the block can also be more than enough to trigger these faculties.
Breaking a sweat from semi-intense physical exercise floods the body with feel good chemicals, endorphins like serotonin being the main component; it has some incredible anti-anxiety properties, and can also help with things like improving sleep, stabilizing and improving mood and even bumping up self-esteem.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) mentions that regular participation in aerobics or other forms of rigorous exercise can be as beneficial as medication, if not more. A few minutes of exercise can alleviate hours worth of symptoms of anxiety and, on top of that, a regular exercise regimen can minimize the long-term effects of anxiety quite significantly over time.
2.Establish a Routine
It may seem like something that could cause more anxiety than it cures, since goals that you have set have the potential to fail (which leads to more fear and doubt). If managed correctly, setting up a routine or schedule in which daily activities are prioritized, can often provide you with even more free time to yourself than you can imagine, along with the relief that comes with it.
Set a time to go to bed and stick to it, avoid caffeine before sleeping and try and naturally wake up at roughly the same time every morning. Organize a schedule in which you set aside time for all of your daily activities and implement enough self discipline so that they get done as best as possible. Keep in mind that a schedule isn’t necessarily a means of placing restrictions on oneself. It should be seen more as a guideline to acquiring free time to engage in the things you want to do or love doing.
3. The AWARE Method
An effective and easy way of stopping an anxiety attack before it spirals out of control and dealing with the overwhelming sense of fear that it can instill, is by remembering the acronym A.W.A.R.E
A– accept and acknowledge your anxiety, it is okay to be aware of your fears; trying to fight them or running away will only exacerbate the physical symptoms.
W– wait and be patient. Escaping the stressful environment may provide temporary relief but so does waiting. The difference is that by running away, you are dishonestly telling yourself that this is the solution, whereas when you wait, subconsciously the anxiety slowly drifts out of your current frame of mind.
A– act normal. Keep your breathing normal stay calm. Instead of escaping the situation(which intensifies the symptoms), be present and feel the anxiety gradually slipping away.
R– repeat steps 1 through 3,(A,W and ) if after accepting that you are anxious, have waited for it to pass and acted as normally as possible, the anxiety still has not reached a manageable level, then commence with step 4: Repeat. After a few more times you should start feeling a lot better.
E– expect the best possible outcome. At this point the signs of a panic attack should have left the building long ago. Focus on what is happening now, don’t let your mind wander off into the direction of “what if…” (this could further incite feelings of panic).
When you’re in an anxious state it is almost impossible to relax. Setting aside time in your day where you are out of the way of physical stressors that can provoke anxious feelings could prove to be extremely beneficial. Practicing mindful breathing or meditation is also an effective means of keeping anxiety at bay.
It needn’t be restricted to just that though, the intention is that you occupy your mind by doing something that you love doing, or something that can immediately take your mind off stress.If done in a relaxed state, it should act as a counter-measure against possible oncoming anxiety whilst taking advantage of your current healthy and balanced state of mind.
5. Halt the Anxiety in its tracks
Separate yourself from your anxiety, remember that you and your anxiety are two entirely different entities. Then make sure you are aware of the potential triggers for it and try to steer clear of situations that might cause symptoms to surface as much as you can. In the event that the anxiety should come creeping up, remember that you are not obligated to participate in any of its attempts to destroy you.
Some may picture a big red “STOP” sign, as an immediate counter-measure, some might find that pinching oneself lightly can help or just a simple sub-conscious reassurance might work for you, telling yourself that you’re okay, go for a walk or do something constructive or entertaining. Whatever works for you to alleviate the symptoms- do that. Everyone is different, and what works for someone else might not work for you. Try these tips out and see which one is best for your specific case.