Coping with Anxiety: Effective Strategies for a Stress-Free Life
Life is not a bed of roses. It can be stressful and an abundance of things can make us anxious. Nowadays we are very familiar with the term ‘Anxiety’1 which is a feeling that is accompanied by tense feelings, mindful thoughts, and physical alterations like elevated blood pressure, increasing your heart rates and even difficulties in breathing. Anxiety is an inevitable part of our life. But people who are suffering from Anxiety Disorders may often feel excessive fright, excitations and distress in typical circumstances.
Anxiety disorders are the leading contributor to mental illness in all over the world. It is also a burning topic in the United States. According to the statement of the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA2), about 40 million adults are affecting in anxiety disorders every year, which is 19.1% of the total population. But the fact is, anxiety disorders can effectively be treated. There are some effective strategies which can help you to cope with anxiety easily and lead a stress free healthy life.
11 Effective Strategies to Cope With Anxiety!!!
- Thinking Positively3: Our emotions and feelings are nothing but the brain’s chemistry. Different types of emotions affect our brain and alter the normal physiology of secreting various hormones and neurotransmitters. When we are in positive emotions, cortisol, the stress hormone is decreased and serotonin level is increased which increases our activity and zeal. It also increases the power of creative thinking and intellectual adaptability. So, in any devastating situation your positive thinking will boost your mind and help you to de-stress.
- Determine the Triggers: If you frequently experience a lot of anxiety, this is very much important to search for the causes that trigger you to the stressful conditions. Common anxiety triggers are from the work or school, relationships, exaggeration of previous or childhood trauma, withdrawal from particular drugs or harmful effects of some medications. Determining the probable triggers you can maintain a journal so that you can overcome them.
- Limiting Alcohol & Caffeine Intake: It is very a common trend to take alcohol and or caffeine to get relief from mental trauma and anxiety. 20% of American people are diagnosed with alcohol or substance use disorder associated with anxiety or mood disorder4. Taking alcohol or caffeine may give you relaxation for a short time but for the long time you will be addicted. So, paying attention to other useful exercises and medications instead of taking alcohol or caffeine is going to help you coping with anxiety and stress.
- Dietary Adjustment: Nicotine & caffeine containing foods stimulates to secrete adrenaline hormone which plays a key role in stress mechanism. Besides this, deficiency of some minerals including calcium, magnesium and vitamin B also contribute to anxiety and stress effects. Foods containing omega-3 fatty acid such as fish oils, tuna, and salmon also reduce anxiety.
- Exercise Regularly5: Exercising regularly helps to relief anxiety in various ways. It will distract you from the source of your anxiety, decrease muscle tension and lessens body’s response to anxiety, activates the special region of brain which is responsible for executive function and development of our response system to real or fictitious challenges to our survival.
- Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is very essential for any living person. It enables our body to relax and our brains to replenish. When we don’t take adequate sleep, our bodies fail to get proper function of it and it may effect to our memory, cognition and feelings. Adults who get less than eight hours of sleep every night are more prone to have anxious symptoms. A survey6 “This year’s Stress in America” shows that adults who did not get at least 8 hours of sleeping in a night are more prone to feeling irritable, overwhelmed, lack of motivation or energy, running out of patience with their kids and spouse or partner and avoiding their exercises. Thus, taking a sound sleep daily will make you healthy both physically and mentally.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a very popular type of psychological care that has become very beneficial in treating a wide variety of mental illness including depression, anxiety disorders, alcoholism and substance use and so on. It is going to change both of your thinking and behavioral patterns7.
CBT enables you to think your problems from different angles. You are going to recognize your imaginational alterations that are making your problems so that you can reevaluate them under real perspectives. Besides you are going to learn some effective skills to solve your difficult situations and thus you are developing your level of confidence. CBT improves your behavioral patterns also by exposure therapy which is one of the important component of it. It involves actively addressing your fears and triggers so that you can learn to reframe your mind and desensitize yourself from the triggering situation of anxiety.
- Deep Breathing Exercises: According to Physiopedia8, breathing exercise is a type of workout which have many different health benefits. Inappropriate breathing causes an imbalance between the oxygen and carbon dioxide ratio in our body which influences stress, anxiousness, panic attacks, fatigability as well as emotional disturbances.
There are various ways of breathing exercises. Among them Diaphragmatic Breathing, also known as Belly Breathing. Anxiety and insomnia (a condition of sleep problem) specialist Julia Kogan9 described about the process of it-
- Step1: Think your stomach is containing a balloon. Now put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach and start filling through enlarging the stomach and deflating by lightly contracting the abdominal muscles.
- Step 2: Breath in by the nose and count up to two slowly. Try to feel that your stomach is enlarged as you inhaled. Don’t be so hurry that you inhaled within counting one.
- Step 3: Now exhale more slowly as you are counting up to 3 slowly. Be aware about your hand above the chest which should remain immobile.
When you become confident with this breathing technique, you can lengthen your inhale and exhale duration. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga will help you to relax and calm your mind.
- The 333 Rule: The 333 rule is a very popular and simple anxiety exercise. It comprises of 3 steps.
- Step 1- Identify 3 things around you
- Step 2- Identify 3 things you heard
- Step 3- Think about 3 things that you can touch or move
This Rule of Three for anxiety management is very much useful in several situations like making a presentation, interacting with new persons, even in panic attacks in any situations.
- Building Social Connections: Connecting with near ones keep you away from anxiety and depression. Some studies shows that lack of social communication is one of the key determinants of some physical and mental health issues. When you are in mental challenges the presence of your family besides you will strengthen your mental power and it works like a miracle. Besides if you have time, you can engage yourself with volunteer works. It also helps you to replenish your mind and rebuild your thinking ability.
- Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help: If your stress and anxiety are so severe, then don’t hesitate to seek help from the professionals. It's not a sign of weakness to seek advice; rather, it shows self-respect. Your physician or therapist will help you coping with your stress and anxiety by giving some medications, psychotherapies and counselling.
Every person has to counter stress, anxiety, depression at any level of life. But it may be overcome very easily. For this, we need proper knowledge and strategies. Lifestyle modification, effective time management also plays key role. Besides, a lot of treatment modalities are available. So, trying to cope with anxiety is the best initiative to make it done. Wish you a stress-free, healthy and happy life with full of blessings!
- Anxiety. https://www.apa.org. Accessed August 22, 2023. https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety
- Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Accessed August 22, 2023. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
- Eagleson C, Hayes S, Mathews A, Perman G, Hirsch CR. The power of positive thinking: Pathological worry is reduced by thought replacement in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Behav Res Ther. 2016;78:13-18. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2015.12.017
- Alcohol And Anxiety. Alcohol Rehab Guide. Accessed August 22, 2023. https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/dual-diagnosis/alcohol-and-anxiety/
- MD JJR. Can exercise help treat anxiety? Harvard Health. Published October 24, 2019. Accessed August 22, 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-exercise-help-treat-anxiety-2019102418096
- Stress and sleep. https://www.apa.org. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Anxiety Canada. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/cognitive-behaviour-therapy-cbt/
- Breathing Exercises. Physiopedia. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Breathing_Exercises
- 4 Expert-Backed Breathing Exercises For Anxiety. Forbes Health. Published June 8, 2022. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/breathing-exercises-anxiety/