You just got bad news, so that wave of anxiety hits you. You feel you like you have been paralyzed with fear. You can feel your body tense up, heart rate increase, and you’re almost sick to your stomach. You just want it to go away. What do you do?
First, know you are not alone. More than 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder. It is the most common psychiatric illness in the U.S.
Next, try these:
It took me a long time to find something that worked for me, and it’s still not 100% helpful all the time, but generally meditation helps me manage my anxiety the best. I’ve read books and listened to meditation CDs, such as The Calming Collection: Goodbye Worries, to learn how to meditate. The basics of medication are that you focus on something, like your breathing, and try to ‘be in the moment’, instead of worrying about what is wrong or what may happen. Start focusing on your breathing to calm yourself down, and incorporate positive self-talk into your meditation.
During my mediation, I tell myself that everything will work out. I repeat to myself that “I will get through this” or “I’ve been through this before, and I’ll get through this again”, depending on the situation. I believe everything happens for a reason, so I tell myself that there is a reason for this trial, and I will come out of it stronger.
Yoga is a great way to relax when your anxiety is high. You can follow Yoga DVDs, or once you learn how to do yoga, you can just do it on your own. A good DVD to start out with for beginners is Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners. Yoga helps relax those tense muscles and release some of that tension you feel.
Talking to someone/therapy
Just having someone to talk to about how you are feeling can be very helpful. When you can let your feelings out, instead of bottling them up inside, you will feel less weight on your shoulders. Just to have someone that will listen and let you know they care can be very comforting. If you feel you need more than just a friend to lean on, seeking the help of a counselor or psychiatrist would be very beneficial.
Exercise is a great way to relieve some of your anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.” They also found that exercise worked as well as medication in some people. Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, which act as natural pain-killers and reduce stress. Go take a 10 minute walk and feel the benefits.
Eating well can also have a positive effect on your mental health. You need to feed your brain nutritious foods, like fruits, vegetables, omega-3 sources, proteins, and grains. Try to stay away from sugary, processed foods because these bad foods can cause sharp drops in your blood sugar, which can make you very irritable and increase your anxiety.
Some people need medication for their anxiety, and that is ok. There are natural supplements that have been proven to help anxiety, but if those don’t work then prescription medications are available. These need to be started gradually and tapered off if stopping them to avoid major side effects. Follow your doctor’s instructions. Many people are embarrassed about taking medication for their anxiety, but just like people who need to take medication for other deficiencies they may have, like insulin for diabetes, those who suffer from anxiety need to address the deficiencies of certain chemicals in their brain. It is nothing to be ashamed about.