Anxiety is becoming a nation-wide issue: roughly 18% of the adult population in the US have anxiety. While 18% may not sound like a lot, that’s about 40 million people suffering from a highly treatable disorder. And only about 1/3 of those people report receiving treatment.
The thing with anxiety is that everyone gets it. What you’re actually feeling when anxiety strikes is your nervous system activating your “fight or flight” reflexes, which developed to make it easier for humans to escape danger. These days, that reflex is still there, which can still be beneficial, but our sense of danger has changed.
The vast majority of us aren’t going to need to outrun a bear to survive the day. But many of us do have stress in our lives that our body doesn’t want us to have to deal with, so it kicks your nervous system into gear for that fight or flight. The thing is, that reflex was only meant to handle a few moments of stress, not the long-term kind we often deal with today. In other words, anxiety symptoms that hang around long-term can wreak havoc on the body as well as the mind.
While many people with anxiety have managed their symptoms with medication, it is possible to get to the root of your anxiety and manage it in a more holistic way. So we’ve brought you five of the best ways to do just that!
Figure Out What’s Causing Your Anxiety
Finding out why your anxiety reflexes are going off can help prepare you for the times when you can safely tell them, “Not now.” Do you typically feel anxious at work? Around your family? In school? Try writing in a journal whenever you feel stressed or anxious to see if you find any patterns.
Learn a Few Relaxation Techniques
Meditate, practice yoga, listen to soothing music, try aromatherapy, or get a massage. Look into different breathing techniques to relax. Often times when anxiety hits, it’s up to you to calm yourself back down. Arm yourself with an arsenal of relaxation techniques to help ground you in any situation you encounter.
Learn to Accept What You Can’t Control
As annoying and cliché as it can be to hear when you have anxiety (and this blogger’s right there with you on this one), we must learn to accept the things we cannot change and work to attain the wisdom to know when one of these things causes us anxiety. Looking back over your journal of anxiety-inducers, you’ll probably notice a pattern of stressors you can’t do anything about. And so the best – and really, only – thing for your health and sanity is to let go and move on.
Learn to Recognize False Alarms
Let’s keep those journals open for a moment longer, and you may notice another pattern: irrelevant triggers. Yes, houses have burned down because someone left an iron plugged in, but do you even have an iron or bad wiring? Or maybe a previous boss’s bad temper is causing you to feel anxious around your nice, new boss. Like we said before, learning your triggers, especially the false ones that pop up when nothing bad is actually happening, is the best preparation for calming your anxiety.
Remember to Stay in the Present
Anxiety’s job is to make us feel like any given situation is an emergency and we should be on high alert. Fortunately, because of the world we live in today, most of these situations aren’t life or death and the fact that you’re here, reading this blog is a testament to that (sorry, zombie readers).
Think about it: to this point, you’ve made it through everything you’ve ever felt anxious about. You’ve powered through it, racing heart, butterflied-stomach, and all, and come through the other side, even if you’ve come out gasping for breath. All the evidence thus far points to the fact that in this present moment, you’re okay. And things will come along that cause you anxiety, but right now you’ve survived and right now is all that matters.
Kat Wiseman is a content writer for Span Enterprises in Rock Hill, SC. She has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Winthrop University and her RYT 200 from Yoga Alliance. When she's not writing or doing yoga, she enjoys Netflix marathons, mystery novels, and being at the beach.