Knowing how to cope with anxiety helps improve quality of life. We may all fall victim to nervous jitters before an interview or before meeting someone new.
However anxiety is different from nervous jitters. Anxiety can severely impact the ability to function properly within society.
What is anxiety?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental disorder that causes excessive anxiety and impacts life function. Essentially the “panic button” (the brain structure that connects to the amygdala) is being overworked.
Anxiety is caused by genetic factors, brain chemistry and environmental factors. Some, not all, types of anxiety can be caused by genetics passed down through the generations.
An imbalance of chemicals and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and glutamate can cause an anxious response. Environmentally, anxiety can develop from personal experiences, trauma, stress, depression, work, toxic relationships and depression.
There are multiple ways to combat your anxious symptoms and prevent panic/anxiety attacks. I have provided some tips below help you out!
Tip #1 To Cope With Anxiety
Have A Go To Coping Skill
Whether it is meditation, breathing technique or positive self talk, you need a go to skill that reduces your anxiety. This can be irritating because there are a multitude of ways you could relax and/or retrain your brain to not identify the situation as life or death (also known as “flight or fight).
Tip #2 To Cope With Anxiety
Know Your Triggers
When do you feel most anxious? Are you in a crowded space or around stressful individuals? It is important to identify your triggers so that you can avoid them. If you cannot avoid your trigger it is important to schedule the encounter so that you can plan for it.
For example, if you have a paper due in two weeks, plan to do a little each day so that you are not overwhelmed later (which could trigger a panic attack).
There are reactions your body and mind have when you begin to feel anxious. You may notice that your heart rate increases or you are becoming more irritable. When you begin to know and notice your signs you will be able to be proactive in your response. As you become more familiar with your signs you will be able to identify when they are more prevalent (aka identifying the trigger)
Tip #4 To Cope With Anxiety
Go for a walk or jog to decrease anxious symptoms. We all have been told for years the physical benefits to exercise but there are also mental benefits from exercising. Although temporary, a walk can increase mood for hours thereby decreasing anxiety and depression.
Exercise releases dopamine and other endorphins that gives the mind the “feel good” chemical to boost your mood. It also decreases cortisol and other stress hormones within the body. Since anxiety correlates with stress and fear it makes sense that as you form a routine exercise regimen, your anxiety symptoms will decrease.
Tip #5 To Cope With Anxiety
The stigma surrounding mental health has begun to crack but has not fully been dismantled. Do not be discouraged if you need to see a mental health professional to help work things through.
Often speaking with a mental health professional will help ease your anxiety, reduce stress and you will learn other coping skills that you could try while in a safe space.
Some people need medication when they are beginning treatment, AND THAT IS OKAY! To ease anxiety regarding medication, educate yourself! The most important thing to understand about medication is that it is not life long.
It is quite common that doctors start slow and low with the dosage of prescription medication, in hopes that you will get a psychotherapist and learn skills to manage your anxiety.
I hope that these tips improve your mood and lower your stress and anxiety! I would love to hear if they helped! If you know of any tips that would help others manage their anxiety, leave it in the comments below!