As someone who has experienced anxiety first hand, I know how awful it can be when that feeling of unease, worry or fear consumes you.
Anxiety can take many forms. You might be worried about a single event. It can be triggered by certain situations. Or you might feel an overall sense of anxiety without understanding the cause.
Anxiety can be limited to a general feeling of nervousness, but if you suffer from it often, these symptoms can spill over into other areas of your life. For example, some people who suffer from anxiety report the following symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased sweating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Digestive problems
- Behaviour changes
- Obsessive behaviour
Now we can see that anxiety isn’t just a little bit of worrying. The most recent Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicates that there are some 6 million people in the UK (approximately 3 million with depression as their primary problem and 3 million with an anxiety disorder). It is also becoming more common in young people and even children. If you want to take control of your anxiety, try these steps.
Get to the root of your problems
Sometimes the cause of your problems is plain and obvious. Perhaps you’re worried about your performance at work. Or you might be anxious about an upcoming life event. And sometimes, the cause of your anxiety isn’t entirely clear. You might have a general feeling of worry all the time without there being one particular source.
Try to think about your life at the moment and decide what is causing you the most worry. Which situations do you dread and avoid? Does your anxiety increase at certain times of the day? Are there places you have to go to that always seem to trigger your anxiety? Check-in with your body and be more aware of your surroundings so you can work out what is triggering your problems.
Learn to breathe
When an anxiety attack hits, you might find your heart racing. This draws your attention to your body and can make racing thoughts even worse. When this happens, find a way to bring your attention to your breath using deep breathing exercises. All you need to do is find a quiet space where you can breathe deeply without being distracted. There are meditation apps available that will teach you how to control your breathing. Over time, you may find that you have greater control over your emotions and your reactions to situations.
Talk about it
You don’t have to run straight to a therapist. There are plenty of people you can talk to about your anxiety. When you open up about anxiety, you soon realise that lots of people have similar problems so you won’t feel as alone. Talk to a friend or family member about your anxiety and let them know how it is affecting your life. They might not have any quick-fix answers, but they may have experienced something similar and have some ideas that might help.
Surround yourself with positive people
Misery loves company. If your anxiety leads to depressive thoughts it can be tempting to seek out similar people to avoid bringing others down. Fight these instincts and try to surround yourself with positive people. Their outlook on life can be a breath of fresh air and a much-needed break from your own thoughts of doom and gloom. If spending time with big groups of people triggers your anxiety, try suggesting grabbing a coffee with the most positive person you know.
Learn to say no
A lot of people feel anxious simply because they feel that modern life places too much expectation on their shoulders. They might worry that they have to say yes to every social function, every work task and every family commitment. One of the first steps to taking control of your anxiety is learning when to say no to things. You’ll soon learn that things don’t fall apart like you expect them to. Before long, you could gain back control of your life and your mood.
When you’re feeling anxious, your first instinct might be to retreat indoors and hide under the covers. Fight these feelings and try to get outdoors whenever possible. Spending time in nature has been proven to help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. So much of modern life is spent in artificial surroundings, staring at screens while shutting off from the outside world. Perhaps this is why humans crave some time in nature every now and then.
There are some supplements which are excellent for controlling anxiety. CBD oil may help to take control of anxious feelings and put you back in control. This is something I’ve used many a time before to help with my own anxiety. It can be taken as an oil under the tongue or as a mixture which can be added to drinks. It is derived from the cannabis plant but does not contain the psychoactive substance THC. It is non-habit-forming and very easy to administer. It can help increase feelings of calm, which might be just the thing you need to take control of anxious thoughts.
Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety? Do share your experiences in a comment below.