What is anxiety?
Therapy Notebooks gives this description:
“Anxiety is characterized by excessive worry that is difficult to control, ruminating on the past, or avoiding things we fear might trigger us further. It can also induce physical symptoms (which) can interrupt our lives in ways big and small, and can impact our ability to manage our own emotions.
Anxiety is an adaptive instinct that signals we may be in danger. It’s our mind’s way of telling our body to prepare for fight or flight.
Of course, when danger is actually imminent, this is helpful, but when this neural mechanism gets overused and overapplied to non-threatening scenarios, we’re left with a bodily response (e.g. increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping) that doesn’t quite fit the situation.”
While a degree of anxiety can be helpful in the right circumstances, too much anxiety can create a feeling of overwhelm, leaving us feeling mentally and sometimes physically, exhausted.
Here are 5 ways to cope with and reduce anxiety:
- Prioritize sleep: If you have been having a hard time sleeping (as anxiety sometimes makes this difficult to do), here are a few tips you can try: Limit screens a couple hours before bed. If you need to have your phone with you, invest in blue light filtering glasses and set your devices to adjust its settings to a warmer light at night. Avoid stimulants like loud music, bright lights and caffeine. Also, it’s okay to take naps.
- Make use of the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique: This technique is helpful when you feel like things are spinning out of control and you need help getting grounded. How it works:
– Identify 5 things you can see.
– Identify 4 things you can touch.
– Identify 3 things you can hear.
– Identify 2 things you can smell.
– Identify 1 thing you can taste.
- Make use of writing as therapy: Writing therapy has shown some remarkable results, including boosting the immune system, but it seems to be most effective as a way to relieve stress and process difficult emotions, in part because it helps people to feel like they have regained control in a trying situation. Here are 5 writing techniques you can try using as a therapy tool.
- Lean into your relationships for support: Whether this is online or in real life, lean into your relationships for support. Call a friend, join an online group, talk to a trusted family member. Or try therapy. Today there are many online options for therapy and some advantages
- Focus on the things you can control: What is a small thing you can do that is within your control right now? If you have a family member or an animal, they still need to be taken care of – to be walked, fed, watered. Even something as small as a plant needs care and watering. Following routines and taking responsibility of small, manageable chores in the moment can help you stay grounded and present until the anxiety passes.
We hope this has been helpful to you.
 University of Rochester Medical Center, ‘5-4-3-2-1 Coping Techniques for Anxiety,’ 2018, https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/behavioral-health-partners/bhp-blog/april-2018/5-4-3-2-1-coping-technique-for-anxiety.aspx
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