We have all experienced feeling worried about the unknown future. It’s normal to find your heart pounding because of an upcoming job interview, or a presentation in front of a large crowd. But once your worry starts interfering with your daily life, and makes it difficult for you to function normally, then you may be facing a more complex problem: anxiety.
When you have anxiety, you may often feel like something dangerous will happen, or that people will judge you in social situations. Because chronic worry and anxiety cause an inability to relax your mind, they often lead to stress and physical symptoms such as muscle tightness and shortness of breath.
To help you manage these symptoms, we put together a list of coping strategies and/or techniques, from physical activities to mental exercises:
1. Start journaling
Set aside at least five minutes every day to write down your thoughts, and identify the things you are really concerned about. It may seem counterintuitive to give attention to your fears, but believe it or not, writing about your worries can greatly help to get them out of your head and to take action to deal with them. Once you are done writing down your feelings, and the situations that are causing you to worry excessively, think about the most difficult life challenges that you were able to overcome in the past. Look back on your wisest moments, and try to think if you could show the same resilience and strength in facing the obstacles you are facing now. Doing this will allow you to remember that you have the strength you need to handle what comes your way in the future.
2. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about focusing your full attention to what is currently happening, what you are doing, and what your thoughts are. It is a great way to manage your anxiety, because you are training your mind to focus on the present moment, rather than constantly looking out for any unfortunate event that may happen tomorrow, or the weeks after. Practising mindfulness helps break the vicious cycle of anxiety and worry because it improves your mind’s control over unwanted thoughts.
When you first begin practising mindfulness, you will most likely find it difficult to sit in silence and block any distraction from your surroundings. You will be more accustomed to meditation as you spend more time doing it, but since you are new to mindfulness meditation, we recommend practising it for no more than five minutes to start.
3. Seek professional support
There are numerous mental health services that offer a drug-free alternative to managing anxiety symptoms and ultimately reclaiming your quality of life. So if you have trouble concentrating and feel like you are always on the edge because of chronic worry, do not bottle things up, but instead, get professional help for your mental health concerns.
4. Mind your physical health
As you probably already know, exercise is good for the body because it helps you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your heart, and keep your blood pressure under control. In addition to these benefits, exercise can improve your mood and energy levels, and reduce insomnia so you can enjoy quality sleep and wake up feeling refreshed the next day. A good night’s sleep can also stop the cycle of rumination, which usually happens during bedtime.
5. Open up about your fears
This may seem like a simplistic solution to a rather complex mental problem. But the truth is that sharing your worries with your loved ones or with a professional therapist will allow you to see things in a different perspective, and give you a better chance of coming across solutions you may not have thought of before.
6. Identify your trigger
Identifying your triggers is another effective way to manage the symptoms of chronic worry. When it attacks, make sure to have a paper where you can jot down your worrisome and distressing thoughts. Identifying your worrisome thoughts will guide you in tracking and eliminating them immediately when they come back in the future.
After writing down worrisome and distressing thoughts, jot down some marginal notes of some positive substitution statement to calm your mind about these distressing thoughts. This is a strategic way to remove these alarming thoughts before they completely occupy your mind.
7. Analyse the Risks
Chronic worry can take over your mind and ruin your risk assessment skills. As a result, you may find yourself preoccupied with too much worry about future possibilities even when they are unlikely to occur or there is no compelling reasons or evidence to back up these possibilities. Instead of worrying, it is better to analyse the risks you have first and make a reasonable assessment out of facts. Worrying without sufficient evidence or reasons to back it up is a waste of your time, energy and can be a source of your frustrations. Hence, next time you worry, try to analyse your situation first realistically; check if your worry has a solid foundation. If it does not, eliminate these thoughts and focus on other important things in your life.
8. Talk To Someone
Reaching out to your family and friends is effective when these distressing thoughts occur as you will be given an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Your family and/or friends may give you solutions to your problems by helping you to clear up your minds with these unrealistic worries.
If talking to your loved ones and/or friends is not sufficient to remove your worries away, it is probably best to seek professional help so that they can guide you better with the proper treatment modalities. It is sometimes best to talk to someone expert in this field as they can give you the proper advice and feedback on what steps to take in order to eliminate these disturbing thoughts that are preventing you from living the best years of your life.