Trying to overcome persistent anxiety is taxing. Our mental response to anxiety is crucial. When we feel anxious, we can fuel the fire by worrying, imagining, anticipating and catastrophising. Self-criticism also increases anxiety. The challenge is to firmly resist negative thoughts and to become as tolerant and supportive of ourselves as we would be to a dear friend.
Focusing on practical strategies can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. The following suggestions will give you tools to help you take charge of your situation:
Visit your Doctor
Anxiety can be caused by some medical conditions and also some medications. These possible causes should be checked out and eliminated at the outset.
Remind yourself the feeling of anxiety is not a threat to your health
The symptoms are uncomfortable but you can train yourself to tolerate them with less fear, once your doctor has confirmed there is no medical cause.
Fighting anxiety escalates the feelings. Letting go and accepting the feelings helps them to pass more quickly.
When feeling anxious check your breathing pace
Slow it down if necessary. Concentrate on deepening your breath into the bottom of your lungs.
Find ways to relax
Possibilities include yoga, pilates, massage, beach walking and peaceful visualisations.
Take control of your mind
Don’t allow yourself to escalate anxiety by anticipating the worst and engaging in the ‘what if’ question. Become aware of your self-talk. Are you generating your anxiety by frequent negativity?
Use calming self-talk to support yourself
Increase your self-care. When you’re feeling anxious or under stress you need more self-care to counteract these feelings.
Build regular exercise into your routine
Try twenty minutes at least three times a week. This will reduce your overall stress and anxiety levels.
Experiment with relaxation techniques
Do these regularly if they work well for you.
This can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, as can alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.
There are many good self-help books on anxiety that offer guidance and useful strategies.
Be gentle with yourself
Be mindful of your stress levels. Some things may be just too hard to tackle at this point - and that’s okay.
Consider working with a counsellor
Addressing underlying issues can help. It’s also important to learn new skills to manage the symptoms.
© Copyright Kay Douglas. Kay Douglas is a registered psychotherapist, counsellor and life coach. She is also the author of four self-help books: Invisible Wounds, Challenged by Childhood, Living Life Out Loud and Power Games (co-authored with Dr Kim McGregor). She is in private practice in Auckland, New Zealand. For more information please visit www.kaydouglas.co.nz
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