Dealing With Anxiety

5 Ways To Manage Anxiety

Many people experience periods of anxiety when they are under stress, or going through major changes, such as moving home or jobs. For the majority of us, anxiety plays out by worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling tense, irritable and reactive. It can cause you to feel tired and have difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping as you struggle to deal with challenging life experiences.

Many people find that these symptoms of anxiety are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality. The old adage applies here: ‘A problem solved is a problem halved’.

However, for others these symptoms of anxiety do not disappear after the stressful event has passed. They may continue to feel anxious and worried, sometimes without any specific event triggering the feelings.

If these worries, fears about the future, and physical symptoms, such as fast heart rate and sweating, become severe enough to interfere with your ability to cope with daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety. For whatever level of anxiety you may suffer, it is possible to manage the symptoms. Here are some techniques that can help:

Understand the nature of anxiety

We all experience anxiety; it is a natural human state and a vital part of our lives. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in either ‘fight or flight’ mode. It can also motivate us to deal with difficult challenges.

However, there is another side to anxiety, a side which, if not addressed, can cause significant emotional distress and unmanageability. An anxiety disorder can lead to a number of health risks and it’s important to understand its nature in terms of severity, triggers and behaviour. Anxiety can be exhibited through a variety of behaviours including panic attacks, phobias and obsessional behaviours. Anxiety at this level can have a truly debilitating impact.

Gain awareness of underlying factors of anxiety

Some life experiences that are stressful or traumatic, such as family break-ups, ongoing bullying or conflict at home, school or work, abuse, or traumatic events, such as car accidents, can make people more susceptible to anxiety. These extra stress factors may be more than a person’s normal coping mechanisms can deal with comfortably, and may leave them vulnerable to experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours, may be triggered by a range of specific external or internal stimuli. These could include traumatic memories, specific objects, particular situations, physical locations, or a persistent general worry that something bad will happen in the future.

If the anxiety is triggering to the point of a panic attack, part of the process of understanding our anxiety involves being curious about our developmental history, and also learning to regulate our physical state.

Set healthy limits for communicating and developing relationships

The lives of those with the most severe forms of anxiety can become completely dominated by their condition, and often their anxiety can impair their ability to sustain healthy personal relationships. People with anxiety may start withdrawing, they may stop attending social functions, they may become snappy, irritable and irrational, or they may worry unnecessarily that something negative is going to happen.

The first step is to start to identify our ‘reality’, in particular some of our thoughts and feelings. This can be very difficult when anxiety has been present for a while as we generally feel overwhelmed by our emotions. Identifying them can be hard. However, being able to share in our relationship that we are dealing with anxiety and having an ally you trust can be very helpful.

Learn relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system

Anxiety and depression are among the most common conditions cited by those seeking treatment with complementary and alternative therapies, such as exercise, meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Several studies have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments.

Use distress tolerance and mindfulness skills

Mindfulness focuses on changing the relationship between the anxious person and their thoughts, rather than changing the thoughts themselves. We become a witness to our process, we become aware.

Meditation can help people break out of the ‘automatic pilot mode’ that leads to negative ways of thinking and responding. Carl Jung stated that unless we make “the unconscious, conscious, it will direct our life, and we call it fate.” With the help of therapy, we can interrupt this unconsciousness, truly becoming aware of the way our environment triggers our physiology, and thoughts and the emotional states it then triggers.

Anxiety can be debilitating condition and can impact many facets of your life. Whether it’s brought on by stressful situations or you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, the effects of anxiety can be managed. The first step of acknowledging there may be a problem is often the darkness before the dawn.

By Steve Stokes, Program Manager at South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse. 

June 25, 2015

Can Changing Your Diet Stop Anxiety?

While food has amazing properties to fight disease, release happy endorphins and adrenaline, does it also have the ability to fight off anxiety? A diet that is filled with too many Omega-6 fatty acids has the ability to increase inflammation in the brain, and as a result can significantly affect the way we feel.

If particular meals can make the body and mind feel worse, there has to be some that can make it feel better. Here are some tips for fighting off anxiety with what we put into our body.

Tea

Specifically chamomile and green tea are great at relaxing someone who is stressed out, or suffers from anxiety. Green tea is high in antioxidants and an amino acid called L-theanine. This helps to promote alpha waves in the brain and has a calming effect. Chamomile tea has been traditionally linked to soothing a sore stomach, and is also proven to decrease mild anxiety. If chamomile tea isn’t for you, try adding it to a warm bath when you feel overwhelmed.

Choline

Choline is a part of the Vitamin B family, which helps to prevent memory loss, reduce sleeping problems, and helps those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Foods which are rich in choline can include eggs, beef, cauliflower, fish and peanut butter. Try to incorporate these into your diet, since low levels of choline can lead to increased anxiety. Supplements are also a great option, although first check your recommended dose before taking them.

Omega-3

Fish oils are fantastic for the heart, but can also work with reducing anxiety and also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Omega-3 is found most popular in fish such as tuna, salmon and cod, which ideally should be eaten three times a week for good health. If fish isn’t something you enjoy or can’t eat for dietary reasons, you can also get Omega-3 from nuts and flax seed, or even daily supplements.

Complex carbohydrates

These types of foods increase the level of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter in the brain, which directly controls the central nervous system. Complex carbohydrates include foods such as wholemeal bread, pasta and potatoes. They take longer to digest, and work wonders for your blood sugar levels.

Are there any foods you would recommend which could help to reduce anxiety?

Image via exposenewsnetwork.com/sites/default/files/media/Benjamin%20Branchaud/ 2013/08/Anxiety.jpg

By Felicia Sapountzis

 

May 2, 2014

10 Tips to Manage Stress and Find Balance

Christmas might be the time of year we look forward to the most, but it’s also a stressful time with family issues, money woes, anxiety for the year ahead and much more.

Blackmores Director of Education, Pam Stone, says: “Stress can affect people in different ways and it is important to know that there are also different things you can do to help prevent and manage its symptoms – to start to take control.”

Pam shares her top 10 tips to prevent and manage stress over the holidays, and find balance in the year ahead.

1. Prioritise your own wellbeing
Take some time out for yourself daily to do something you love and nurture you. It could be as simple as a quiet cup of tea, a long bath, massage, reading a book, taking a walk or catching up with a good friend. It can be anything you enjoy and helps you to feel good. This will keep your ‘bucket’ topped up and help you to feel refreshed and happier.

2. Manage time before time manages you
Do this by taking control of your plans and deadlines. Learn to say “no” – taking on more than you can handle is a recipe for stress. Keep a diary of your commitments and don’t forget to schedule some important free time for yourself daily.

3. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Reduce your caffeine, sugar and alcohol consumption. By reducing these from your diet, you will feel more relaxed and grounded.

4. Eat right
Proper nutrition can ensure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to maintain energy, health and general wellbeing. Supplementing your diet with a multivitamin can help provide nutrients that a busy lifestyle sometimes doesn’t allow.

5. Rest and digest
A healthy digestive system powers feelings of calm instead of stress and anxiety. Give your gut some added help with probiotics which help support digestive health and wellbeing.

6. Take a deep breath
This will help to increase your oxygen levels and can calm and relax.

7. Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins which are feel good chemicals for the body. Exercise also helps use up hormones that are produced when we feel stressed, creating calm and promoting better sleep and relaxation at night.

8. Practice meditation
A quick 5-minute meditation can have a great impact on lowering your stress levels.

9. Ensure you are getting enough sleep
Adequate sleep rejuvenates your mind, as well as your body. If you have trouble getting to sleep set aside 30 minutes before going to bed to wind-down and relax by writing in a journal, reading a good book, drinking herbal tea or taking a warm bath. You can also take a herbal supplement containing valerian that supports your body’s natural ability to sleep soundly. Other beneficial ingredients include lemon balm and magnesium.

10. Avoid comfort foods when you’re under stress
Remember that refined carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels leaving you feeling more frazzled, exhausted and unable to concentrate. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables, low GI carbohydrates, lean protein, dairy and drink lots of water. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. A multivitamin can also help to provide essential nutrients to assist you through the day.

December 18, 2013

The Art of Saying No

We all lead very busy lives and stress compounds when we have to fit additional commitments into our already busy schedules or worse commit our valuable time to tasks that leaves us feeling unappreciated.

Imagine how different life could be if you understood why you say yes (when you want to scream “no”) and only agreed to commitments that make your heart sing?

1. Why we say yes

We’ve been programmed to say yes in order to keep the peace. These automated responses were instilled in us from our well-meaning parents who conveyed that it’s wrong to hurt the feelings of others. I’m sure we can all remember words rabbited over time such as “don’t hit your sister,” “don’t be selfish – can’t you share that” or “I don’t have time for this or that.” Over time we shut down our own emotional needs in order to keep others happy. Over time stress compounds as we struggle under the weight of agreeing to these requests.

2. Have good boundaries

People who have good boundaries normally have no trouble saying no.  They understand that their happiness is paramount in their decision making process. They also possess the necessary skills to communicate “this is how I like to be treated and that I matter.”

Boundaries can be as simple as:

I like it when…

I do not like…

I will never…

I hate it when…

3. Stop the automatic yes

When a request comes your way here’s a simple trick that will stop the automatic yes from tumbling out.

Simply pin your tongue, to the roof of your mouth and take a deep breathe.

This short lag not only prevents your old conditioning from kicking in ( by saying yes)  and  will allow you time to assess your true feelings.

4. The decline – thanks but no thanks

Stress comes into play when you say yes then spend the next hour or day thinking up an excuse (which is really a lie you tell yourself) in order to negate the offer.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just say no in the first place?

If a request comes your way and you’re unsure of your decision use a delay tactic such as: I need to check my diary, with my husband or the kid’s schedule.

If you then decide that the request is not for you, tell the person straight away.  Use:

  • Thank you for your kind offer but that’s not for me
  • Thank you for your offer but I have something else on
  • I hope you have a great time but the invite does not interest me

The person may be disheartened; and this is where you need to stay strong. Guilt will make you feel like you need to justify your actions; however this is not something you should do. Once you start to respond it can be like opening a door and allowing the other person to enter. This is where they’ll pressure you to change your mind. Being firm with your response closes that door-end of discussion.

5. What if they become upset?

Did you know your memories have emotions attached to them?  When a memory is jogged the attached emotion surfaces and triggers our actions or reactions.

When someone becomes upset understand that it’s their emotion (they may be feeling rejected) causing their actions (being angry with you.)  It is in no way your fault. However you can help them by reassuring them that your decision does not mean you do not care.

A true friend would understand without the need to make you feel guilty, family on the other hand are another story and staying strong may be much harder.

6. The catch up

If you sense that someone is hurt by your no (remembering it’s their emotions making them feel that way) offer a catch up. A catch up shortly afterwards is a great way of showing you still care for them (which will negate their feelings of rejection.

7. Practice makes perfect

Declining offers at first will feel very strange; you may even feel guilty about not attending certain events. However when you put your own happiness first spending time with people who don’t make your heart sing will become less of a priority.

It never ceases to surprise me the amount of people who are prepared to be unhappy in their comfort zone (attending functions they dislike) rather than venturing outside (by declining) and seeing what is possible.

Once you learn “the art of saying no” you’re old childhood conditioning will disappear and as you become empowered stress in your life will also dissipate.

Leann Middlemass blogs about emotional wellness at My Destiny.

September 20, 2013