Do you feel your heart beating erratically during stressful situations? Does your body start sweating profusely? Do you often lose sleep because of your worrisome thoughts?
If yes, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Living with anxiety can be painful and exhausting. It can make you feel like you have no control over your thoughts, leaving you restless for days. Thoughts triggered by one’s anxiety are unlike regular worries- they go beyond the stress one gets from everyday problems. People suffering from anxiety disorders may live in constant fear and tension, feeling helpless against their thoughts. Anxiety can lead to one losing all their confidence and leave them feeling like a shell of their former self.
Although overcoming your anxiety may seem too good to be true, it is possible through formal treatment and effective strategies. Consistency and determination are two key principles to overcoming any odds. Seeking a counselor can help you cope with your anxiety and eventually triumph over it. Counseling can help you identify your triggers, explore your reaction towards them, and develop ways of dealing with them.
Although the demand for counselors outweighs their availability and accessibility in some ways, the field of counseling continues to see expansion and improvement. For instance, CACREP, an accreditation organization for educational programs in counseling, aims to provide the best opportunities for people interested in pursuing a degree in counseling. There are numerous CACREP accredited counseling programs to choose from, and these programs allow you to pursue a career as a counselor.
Anybody can be unfortunate enough to have an anxiety disorder, and everybody has the potential to overcome it and improve their mental health. Following are some strategies to help you overcome your anxiety and regain the confidence you thought you had lost.
- Focus on breathing
Breathe: it may sound like an overused and unoriginal piece of advice, but it is one of the most effective ones to help control intrusive thoughts. It does help in particularly overwhelming situations. The science behind taking a deep breath is that focusing on your breath activates the regions of your brain linked to emotions and awareness, making it possible to disengage from stressful thoughts and relax your mind. Therefore, the next time you struggle with anxious thoughts, breathe in and out to regulate your thought process.
You could try box breathing, one of the most effective breathing techniques. It involves breathing in and holding your breath for four seconds and then exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds. The process continues until you feel calm again.
- Do some physical exercise.
Exercise helps the brain cope better with stress, which, in turn, helps improve mental health. Sometimes, focusing on your body enables you to relax your mind. Scientists have found that regularly doing some aerobic exercise helps decrease anxiety and stress levels. Although indulging in any physical activity won’t make your stressful thoughts disappear once and for all, studies have shown that it may offer several hours of stress relief.
If you do not find the idea of exercising fun, there are lots of other physical activities that you may find effective. For instance, you can go out for a walk, take up biking, or even put on some music and dance for 30 mins. The idea is not to have a perfect workout routine but to be consistent in your physical exercise routines.
- Write down your thoughts
Journaling your thoughts is one of the most effective tools to help overcome your anxiety and stress. If you deal with anxiety, your thoughts can be daunting, and keeping them inside can be detrimental to your well-being. Putting your thoughts down on paper provides an outlet for you. Think of it this way; when you write down your worries, you let them exist outside your body instead of having them chip at you from within. The bite of your thoughts becomes less painful when you can see them on paper.
Journaling relieves stress by offering you a way to assess them. Inside, your thoughts can be threatening and overwhelming. But when you write them down, you can examine them, and you get an opportunity to shift your thinking. The ultimate goal of journaling is to help you focus on overcoming your anxiety by addressing and challenging your thoughts instead of suffering through them.
- Make changes to your diet
Some nutrients and supplements help reduce anxiety, and adding them to your diet can be an effective way to overcome your intrusive thoughts. Some of the anxiety-reducing foods include green tea, valerian root, lemon balm, and dark chocolate. Although it may take some time to get your body used to the nutrition these foods provide, it may help overcome your anxiety once it does.
A healthy diet does not only lead to a healthy body but also a healthy mind. Add more fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and high-fiber foods to your diet, for it can help improve anxiety and depression symptoms. Also, limit your caffeine intake as it can increase your anxiety level.
- Get therapy
Getting treatment for your anxiety disorder is one of the strategies for long-term mental health improvement, and therapy is one of the most effective options. Therapy can help you conquer your anxiety and fears and improve your well-being. Therapy can help with your fears and worrisome thoughts, help you learn how to relax when your anxiety gets triggered, and develop coping mechanisms.
There are different types of therapy for people with various symptoms, but CBT is widely used for anxiety-related disorders and effectively treats them. CBT helps people change their perspective on the situation. Proponents of CBT in psychology claim that our negative thinking leads to anxiety and stress. If we take a more positive approach to perceiving unpleasant situations, we can reduce our anxiety levels.
- Find what triggers your anxiety
People with anxiety disorders often have triggers that make their thoughts spiral. Identifying these triggers is a grueling process, but you can do it with the help of your therapist. Avoiding your triggers will help you overcome your anxiety. Of course, you can’t distance yourself from every possible trigger, but you can do so for those you have control over. You will benefit by actively trying to limit your exposure to your triggers. To avoid getting triggered by situations out of your control, you can discuss some coping techniques with your therapist and use what works best to reduce your anxiety.
Your disorder does not define who you are. You can overcome anything that threatens your mental health if you keep trying to get better. With consistency and your best efforts to overcome your anxiety, you can improve your well-being and get back to living a life full of confidence and happiness. Treatment from a disorder is a long journey, and having family and friends who can support you can make all the difference in the world.
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