Tacoma Christian Counselor
Just about everyone has experienced anxiety because of a stressful situation. Anxiety can be described as the feeling of sustained and excessive worry that a person cannot control. Many times, our anxiety relates to anticipated future events that are either significant or potentially threatening.
Depending on how intense it is, anxiety can have a significant and negative effect on one’s daily life, work, relationships, and overall well-being. That is why it is so important to be able to manage and relieve anxiety when it crops up.
The good and the ugly side of anxiety.
Anxiety is how our bodies respond to threats. If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, you’d want to be prepared to deal with it. That’s what anxiety does, as it primes our bodies to act to either defend ourselves or flee the danger. In this way, anxiety has a good, positive side, as part of a complex survival mechanism.
When things work as they should, we may not pay them any mind; it’s typically when things don’t go according to plan that they become noticeable and uncomfortable. One can experience excessive anxiety, having it triggered in mundane situations where there is no real danger present, or experiencing debilitating symptoms from the anxiety.
Anxiety can manifest as a worried, irritable, restless, and debilitating stress response that can last for minutes or even days. When that happens, anxiety disrupts daily life significantly. This is the ugly side of anxiety when it gets out of hand.
Some people experience anxiety so strongly over things, their rational mind tells them they shouldn’t be getting anxious over it. When anxiety is that bad, one should consult a health professional. It may be an anxiety disorder. You should reach out and talk to someone if you experience these 4 things:
- Your anxiety leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation, producing thoughts of hopelessness or helplessness.
- Your anxiety begins to control your life and your emotional or physical response to excessive worry controls your life, such as if you begin avoiding certain places or activities because they make you anxious.
- Your anxiety creates obstacles in your life and becomes a negative influence on your relationships with others.
- Your anxiety causes difficulties for six or more months.
How anxiety affects your life.
When you’re feeling anxious, it acts on you in several tangible ways, including affecting how you feel physically and emotionally. Depending on how anxiety manifests in your life, it can cause any number of complications in everyday living. The key to dealing with anxiety is recognizing what you’re dealing with, and that’s why it’s important to know the signs of anxiety and take any concerns to your healthcare provider.
When you’re feeling anxious, some of the physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Increased heart rate.
- Chest pain.
- Gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or constipation.
- Muscle aches.
- Shaking or trembling.
- Shortness of breath.
- Clammy hands.
Emotionally, anxiety can appear as:
- Excessive worry.
- Panic attacks.
- Poor concentration.
- Going blank.
- Sleep disturbances, such as struggling to fall or stay asleep.
Anxiety affects one’s day-to-day life and can become an obstacle to a happy, healthy life by isolating a person because they can’t or don’t want to participate in normal daily activities or take new directions in life because of fear. Anxiety can also interrupt daily life by causing issues at home, school, work, and socially, which can cause emotional and mental distress.
Due to anxiety, one may find themselves at an increased risk for depression, suicide, and struggling to progress in life. Not only does anxiety cause this distress and physical discomfort, but it can foment poor decision-making which has an impact on all areas of life.
If you struggle with anxiety, it’s possible to seek and find support from any number of resources such as a family member, friend, therapist, medical provider, crisis line resource, or crisis center. Depending on the severity of your anxiety, it may be necessary to formulate a treatment plan that includes behavioral therapy, anti-anxiety medication, and coping mechanisms to help you lead a fulfilling life.
12 ways to relieve anxiety.According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are several ways to cope with anxiety including the following. If you find yourself feeling anxious, you can try these out to help bring your symptoms of anxiety under control.
Turn to the Lord. One’s faith can be a source of strength during trying times. Not only that, but reading Scripture, praying, and reflecting on your life can help you reframe your thoughts. Often, anxiety grows from runaway thoughts that feed upon themselves and further fuel your anxiety.
Those thoughts can be reframed and challenged by seeing what God says about your anxieties and cares (Psalm 23; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7). Part of reframing your thoughts may include maintaining a positive attitude by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Eat well-balanced meals. Eat on a regular schedule so that you do not skip any meals, and keep healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand so your body has what it needs.
Do your best. Aiming for perfection is anxiety-inducing because nothing we do and none of us is perfect. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, aim for faithfulness and doing what you can.
Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can pinpoint? Journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious and look for any patterns that emerge.
Exercise regularly. This can help you feel good, as exercise releases endorphins that elevate your mood, and it will help you maintain good health. Just 30 minutes a day of walking, running, swimming, weightlifting, dancing, or any other exercise that gets your heart pumping is great. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any form of exercise.
Get good sleep. Good sleep means regularly getting enough sleep so that your body has time to recover and metabolize any cortisol that may have been released during the day due to stress. Being well-rested also allows you to have better emotional regulation and intelligence, which helps in everyday situations.
Learn techniques for relaxing and reducing anxiety symptoms. These may include deep breathing, meditation, counting to ten or twenty slowly, or visualization techniques. Journaling can also help by giving you an outlet for your emotions.
Some people enjoy reading to calm down, while others listen to music or recite Bible verses that help them relax. Other options include getting a massage or simply taking a timeout to step back from the problem to clear your head.
Socialize with others and welcome humor. These practices can help you overcome feelings of isolation and elevate your mood.
Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which not only creates a support network but gives you a break from everyday stress as you step away from your problems for a while.
Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, as well as caffeinated drinks, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Accept your limitations. It’s okay to recognize your limits, and that you can’t control everything. Put your situation in perspective and consider if it’s as bad as you think. And even if it is out of your control, is it out of God’s?
Talk to someone. Tell your loved ones such as friends and family that you’re feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you in this season. You can also talk to a doctor or therapist for professional help. Behavioral therapy can be a huge help to overcome anxiety.
The benefits of relieving anxiety in your life.
Excessive anxiety can dominate your life. Being able to relieve anxiety will help you live your life with greater confidence and a sense of adventure. If you struggle with anxiety, and anxiety is causing complications in your life, speak with a mental health professional today so that they can help develop a treatment plan guided by your story and uniquely tailored to your needs. Your counselor will help you bring your anxiety under control, giving you coping tools to use in everyday life.
“Feeling Down”, Courtesy of Molnar Balint, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Night Light”, Courtesy of Beazy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bible and Journal”, Courtesy of Carolyn V, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fervent Prayer”, Courtesy of Fa Barboza, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.