Anxiety disorder is a broad subject with many subcategory disorders falling within this umbrella term. Examples of these would be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Regardless of the exact condition, anxiety is a mental disorder that can be extremely debilitating when left untreated. The effects of anxiety can cause emotional, psychological, and physical distress. People with anxiety disorders find that they are unable to enjoy simple pleasures in life such as going to social gatherings, doing tasks on their own in fear of having an episode of anxiety, and sometimes organize their entire days around trying to avoid or lessen symptoms of this disorder.
If you can relate to this, take heart because there are millions of other sufferers so you surely are not alone!
Another plus side is that there are simple but effective lifestyle changes that you can start making right now that will, in the end, help rid you of your anxiety.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, it could very well be aggravating your anxiety. Starting an exercise programme or physical activity like a sport or dancing has so many positive benefits that have been scientifically proven such as beating stress, lowering the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, and eliminating anxiety too!
Part of how this is done is pure chemistry. Exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphin’s, which are shown to combat anxiety and depression.
There is another element to it too. Exercise greatly increases your confidence. As your body strengthens, so does your mind. You start feeling as though you can manage life’s little hiccups far better, and you can. You conquer physical challenges every time you commit yourself to exercising, and this translates into every aspect of your life.
You also get a chance to keep your mind off your worries – what could be better?
We are conditioned into believing that if we are not being constructively and productively busy, then we are failing. Life can end up being a vicious cycle of rushing, hurrying, doing, and never being done. It is a hotpot for anxiety.
Taking some daily timeout (or as often as possible during the week) to do a creative pastime activity has been proven to lower stress levels and improve our well being.
If you are opting to learn a new hobby, be it an art class or learning knit at home, you have already done yourself a great favour.
Learning something new sharpens our brains, keeping them more elastic and healthier. This in turn has positive results of making you more confident and able to cope with new challenges.
The benefits of creative hobbies do not end there. Not only does it take our minds off our worries and give us a break from the rut, but it also acts as a powerful outlet for emotions we struggle to communicate with others.
It also gives you a sense of accomplishment when you create something of your own.
Whether it is spiritual (like staying in prayer) or non-spiritual, meditation is one of the most effective ways of eliminating anxiety for good.
You have probably heard the phrase “mind over matter” and heard about the power of attraction. Maybe you even think its hocus-pocus.
You are not to blame since some people do make it seem like nonsensical pseudoscience. However, the reality of it is actually very simple to understand, and completely logical; it comes down to attitude.
Have you ever had to face a daunting task that you were not looking forward to, but decided to do it with a positive attitude? The result turns out much better than expected. The same is true when our attitudes are negative, as the results are negative. That is the law of attraction.
Meditation is a way to teach us to have more control over our attitudes, so that we have more influence over what we attract into our lives.
By taking time to still our minds in the morning before our busy days start, and setting our minds on being positive and receiving all things positive, we help ourselves cope more effectively throughout the day.
Affirmations such as “I am grateful”, “I will be well”, “I am worthy”, “I am joyful” etc. are simple but very powerful.
Did you know that many of our behaviours are learnt electrochemically? Repetition leads us to form neural pathways, which are set ways in our physical brains that become second nature to us. The more we repeat positive affirmations, the more “second nature” they become.
As with any medical condition, diet can either play a large part in exacerbating the condition or in helping cure it. There are foods and beverages that anxiety sufferers should avoid, and those that can greatly improve the symptoms of anxiety.
Caffeinated beverages should be taken less frequently or avoided completely. This is because the stimulation effect of caffeine can cause symptoms that mimic anxiety, such as an increased heart rate.
The vitamins and minerals in certain foods help regulate our moods and in turn can make a marked difference in reducing anxiety and managing stress better.
Try to include B – vitamins, Omega 3s, healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates into your diet.
Good sources include spinach, fatty fishes like salmon, complex carbs such as brown and whole-wheat and fruits.
Therapies and Medications
At the end of the day, it should not be a matter of how you were helped, but instead focus on being pro-active about your anxiety and beating it for good.
If you feel that you have not managed your anxiety effectively with the above methods, you should definitely look into receiving professional medical help. There should not be any negative stigma attached to making such a powerful and positive decision. There is no shame or weakness in seeking help. Go for it, and be empowered by it!
Thankfully, medicine has also evolved in the field of anxiety. There are many available options. Group therapy, individual sessions and medication are great options.
One therapy that has proven extremely effective is CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy. It focuses on changing your thought patterns and behaviours because the two are linked. A negative action can lead to negative thoughts and anxiety and negative thoughts can lead to negative behaviours and anxiety.
Changing these patterns in simple ways gives sufferers the tools they need to cope and manage their anxiety, and beat it altogether.
Do not be discouraged if you have tried a method and not seen any results. Be patient with yourself as you figure out what works for you and do not try to go at it alone. We all need somebody we can trust; who can encourage and support us. Reach out to a caring family member or friend or join online forums and support groups. Every little bit counts.
Read more on panic attacks and anxiety from the links below
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