Different Ways to Deal with Anxiety – Stress Management Techniques and Tips
Anxiety is a normal emotion. It's all about your brain's way of reacting to stress and notifying you of the danger ahead. Everyone feels anxious at any stage of their life. For example, you may worry when faced with any issue at the workplace, before making an important decision, and before taking a test.
Occasional anxiety is acceptable, but an anxiety disorder is something different. There is a group of mental illnesses that cause constant worry and fear. Excessive anxiety can disrupt your routine, which might trigger symptoms. Proper anxiety treatment can help people manage their feelings.
Anxiety may also lead to other problems that may worsen health. People with anxiety may have insomnia, chronic pain, or digestive issues. Smoking and vaping are also a problem for people with anxiety disorders, and these habits lead to health issues.
According to the National Alliance on Mental illness, approximately 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. It makes anxiety the most common mental illness in America. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with anxiety and other mental disorders smoke at two to four times the rate of the overall population.
Anxiety establishes itself in different ways, from general anxiety to social anxiety. The disorder is treatable, but less than 40% of people with anxiety receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Anxiety Causes: Genetic, Environmental, and Traumatic
Mental health professionals still aren’t sure what causes anxiety. But researchers suggest several factors may contribute to the disorder. These include genetics, environmental stresses, traumatic events, and underlying medical issues.
Genetics and Environmental Stresses
Genetics is one of the significant risk factors for anxiety. According to Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that anxiety disorders can be inherited as they can transfer in families. Whereas environmental factors include stresses from not fulfilling basic needs, some of these needs may be out of a person's control. When a human body experiences severe stress, the brain's chemistry can change and make a person more vulnerable to anxiety disorder.
People from minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ community experience chronic stress from prejudice and discrimination - a phenomenon called minority stress. LGBTQ+ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to have anxiety disorder and depression turn to substance misuse, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Traumatic events such as the sudden death of a loved one, war, or moving to another country can trigger anxiety disorder.
A professional mental health therapist, Tamara Hill, said, "Anxiety is an outcome of the body's natural capability to alert us from threats and danger that are out of our control." The body is doing its duty to protect us. "When a traumatic event happens, both the body and brain respond to external stimuli even when it doesn’t need to.”
According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, women who have faced sexual assault are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms than other women.
Underlying Medical Problems
AAccording to Cleveland Clinic, health issues may cause feelings of anxiety in some people. If you're suffering from anxiety, a consultation with your healthcare provider can help prevent underlying medical problems.
Medical reasons for anxiety are:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Food allergies
- Head trauma
- Heart problems
- Neurological conditions
- Infectious diseases
Some prescribed medications can cause anxiety as a side effect when people start or stop consuming them. These medications are birth control pills, weight loss medication, steroids, asthma medication and drugs that treat Parkinson's disease. Abruptly stopping medications such as Cymbalta may also cause anxiety.
How to Deal With Anxiety Naturally?
There are many natural ways to help reduce anxiety and develop a calm feeling. These techniques may be appropriate for people who don't want to take medications and seek natural coping methods. People who want to handle their anxiety shouldn't stop taking medications without consulting their health provider. In some situations, stopping a medicine may cause serious side effects.
Exercise and Yoga
Regular exercise can work like medication to control anxiety in some people, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Exercise helps alleviate stress and relaxes the mind by stimulating chemicals in the brain known as endorphins. According to Harvard Health Publishing, endorphins develop a positive mood and feeling of calm.
Remember that exercise doesn't need to be intense to be helpful. Even a 10-minute walk and gentle yoga are enough to reduce anxiety symptoms.
Deep Breathing and Meditation
Deep breathing and meditation can help manage anxiety attacks when practised daily. "Deep breathing boosts the oxygen supply to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes calmness," said The American Institute of Stress.
Breathing goes hand in hand with meditation. According to Johns Hopkins, half an hour of meditation every day may improve anxiety and depression.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique
This technique helps people refocus their minds on the present moment and stop fixating on anxious thoughts using the senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. This technique starts by taking a few slow deep breaths and following these steps.
5: Look for and notice five things around you, such as a person, place or thing.
4: Look for and notice four things you can touch, such as ground, clothes, or hair.
3: Look for and notice three things you can hear clearly, such as music or a bird chirping.
2: Look for and notice two things you can smell, such as food, sheets, and soap.
1: Look for and notice one thing you can taste, such as coffee, sandwich, or gum.
Tips to Deal with Anxiety
There are a few tips people can do when experiencing anxiety. These tips involve the body, the mind, and the idea of getting help.
Learn Your Triggers
Knowing what triggers anxiety can help you create coping ways and prevent symptoms.
"I try to identify the signs early because I can calm it down before it worsens if I know it early. If I don't identify it early, it will spiral, and I won't be able to maintain myself," said Brummer.
Restrict Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol, caffeine, and other substances such as energy drinks can stimulate the nervous system and boost the risk of panic attacks and anxiety.
Skipping meals can cause low blood sugar, said Artemisa. Low blood sugar can trigger anxiety because it develops more cortisol in response to stress. She also doesn’t suggest diets or fasting for people who have anxiety.
Talk to Someone
Don't be afraid to talk with friends, family members, and a health provider. Since anxiety stems from fearful thoughts, suffering alone can make it worsen. Getting help from people around you can empower people and make them feel less helpful.
Get Adequate Sleep
Adequate sleep helps the body deal with stress. A person with anxiety should get at least 8 hours of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep can lead to anxiety disorder.