The second I wake up each day, I already have a million thoughts in my head – how many things I have to do for the day, if I have to go anywhere, what to cook, how much money I should put into my bills each month, and the list goes on. It's like a locomotive in my brain, and what frustrates me the most is that I typically don't have anything to panic over, but it still occurs.
Everyone has experienced some form of anxiety in their lives, during an interview or preparing for a school test, but it is often short-lived. However, individuals with anxiety disorders have longer-lasting and more intense symptoms. In addition, it often manifests for no reason at all.
So, let's look at some of the symptoms.
I often think that life would be easier and decrease my anxiety if I didn't have one thing to do. However, I have gone down that road, which has led to deep depression for me in the past. Therefore, I finally learned some tactics to get me through the day and would like to offer some tips if you also struggle with an anxiety disorder.
When I went into a partial hospitalization program (PHP), the therapists taught Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups, which is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Its primary goals are to teach individuals how to regulate their emotions, develop healthy coping mechanisms, improve relationships, and practice mindfulness by living in the moment.
I still struggle with the thought of what I have to do today, tomorrow, and even next month. However, whenever my mind goes there, I think of the movie "Are We There Yet?" as my coping mechanism.
One of the most challenging concepts for many of us is staying in the moment. We tend to either get caught up in the past or the future. So, whenever you find your mind roaming, see if you can bring it back to the here and now—for instance, brushing your teeth, washing a few dishes, eating an orange, or sipping on a cup of coffee. And if a stressful thought arises, don't judge it, but bring yourself back again.
Initially, when we were taught in the partial program to take deep breaths, I thought it was just a cliché and stilly. Still, I thought I would give it a shot when I began to experience uncomfortable heart palpitations over time, which helped decrease my heart rate.
Utilizing deep breaths is an excellent mindfulness method to decrease the anxiety that puts us in a fight, flight, or freeze mode. Over time, being stuck in these modes takes a toll on one's brain and body. Therefore, you'd be surprised how quickly a few deep breaths can decrease the overactive heart rate. It is not a conspicuous act and can be done anywhere, such as in your office, traffic, or supermarket.
If you have a health or fitness app or a watch that tracks your heart rate, take a test experiment to see the decrease in rate after taking a few deep breaths. Or, if you don't have any of these apps, time the number of beats per minute.
Using grounding techniques is another mindfulness method I learned while in the partial program. Admittedly, I thought this was silly, too, but when I finally realized that not much else was working, I decided to try it. How much could it hurt?
Grounding techniques help us get ourselves out of our heads and decrease the physical discomfort that anxiety causes. When you can then detach from physical or emotional distress, it will bring your brain and body back into the present moment.
Radical acceptance is a skill used to help individuals who experience difficult emotions or situations accept their reality. Oh, how radically wrong that sounds, right? On the contrary, though. This method prevents you from avoiding the fear because the more you try to run away from the emotions, the worse the anxiety.
To paraphrase, my therapist once told me to welcome my fears, allow myself to feel the uncomfortable emotions for the moment, and then utilize a method that helped me in the past to decrease my anxiety. What helps reduce my stress is taking a shower and a walk. So try to find something you know has worked for you before.
We often feel alone when experiencing debilitating anxiety. However, you are not alone, as millions of people struggle with it daily. Therefore, don't let it fester in your head, as you don't deserve to torture yourself.
If your anxiety is paralyzing, attending counseling might be beneficial. A therapist can work on some anxiety-reducing techniques with you, which is a great way to gain insight and learn methods you might not have thought of before.
Attending a support group with other anxiety sufferers who can listen or empathize can make a difference. It allows you to learn about how others cope. Hopefully, it will help you see that there is hope.
Living with an anxiety disorder is very real to sufferers and can be extremely difficult, but it is treatable, and you can nip it in the bud with the proper coping tools. So, don't let anxiety take control of you but remain diligent, and you will witness it back off.