Expert Tips for Managing Anxiety from Rob Cole, LMHC, Clinical Director of Mental Health Services
Everyone struggles with some form of anxiety at one time or another. While for some the feeling is temporary or situational, for others it may be completely debilitating.
Those who are struggling may find their anxiety to be unmanageable, having it greatly impact their everyday lives. This is known as having an anxiety disorder, which involves extreme fear and worry. These feelings persist over great periods of time, and while situational anxiety dissipates rather quickly, an individual suffering from a true mental health disorder will find that the feelings get more and more severe the longer they struggle. It is common for people to feel like they should simply be able to “snap out of it” or “get over it,” when the reality is that an anxiety disorder is a serious mental health issue that must be addressed accordingly. Therapy and medication regimens are some of the ways anxiety can be treated, but there are also things you can do yourself to better cope. Our Clinical Director of Mental Health Services at Banyan Boca, Rob Cole, LMHC shares some expert tips on managing anxiety.
- Be aware of your anxiety, and learn to better understand it.
One way to do this is to keep a log of your anxious feelings. Write down the situations that cause you anxiety and what you are feeling in your body at those times. Write down the date, time, location, etc. of when you are feeling anxious to help build a visual and gain a better perspective on your anxiety. It becomes easier to manage anxiety when you have a better understanding of it.
- Learn new relaxation techniques- and use them!
Learning new relaxation techniques can help decrease the intensity of your anxiety. Simple breathing techniques can be helpful, although they also take practice. Sometimes when we are anxious we may experience rapid breathing or feelings of restriction in the chest. Learning how to practice slow, calm breathing can help reduce this effect. Practice slow, deep breaths through the nose to help ease these unpleasant symptoms. Other techniques for promoting relaxation include mindful meditation, yoga, deep stretching or taking a hot bath. These are all activities that can assist with progressive muscle relaxation.
- Challenge negative thought patterns.
Individuals who are suffering from an anxiety disorder often struggle with negative thinking, either about themselves or in regards to future situations. For example, one might think “I know I’m going to say something wrong, I must be stupid.” It’s important to remember that feelings are not always facts and they must be challenged on a regular basis if we are struggling with this sort of negative self-talk. If we believe that a situation is threatening then we are more likely to feel anxious; however, individuals with an anxiety disorder often overestimate the degree of danger or uncomfortability in a given situation. Use your anxiety log to help with this. Writing down your feelings either prior to or immediately following an event that causes anxiety can help you to move onto the next step of challenging those thoughts. Use realistic questions, such as “how many times has such and such actually happened?” to counterpoint your exaggerated fears. By responding to these questions with the recognition of facts, your anxiety will begin to diminish.
- Practice behaviors that can help manage your anxiety.
For example, if public speaking causes you intense anxiety, practice speaking in front of one person or a small group and receiving feedback. This will help you slowly address the fears you may have in regards to the situation, and ultimately help you to better manage it in the future.
Many of those struggling with an anxiety disorder need professional help to overcome the obstacles they are facing. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and with the right help those who suffer can go on to live happy, healthy lives. If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, or any other mental health diagnosis, call Banyan Treatment Center today at 888-280-4763 for a free assessment.