Just like a plant grows vigorously and flourishes when its needs are met, humans thrive when they are cared for and cared about. Anxiety, though, is as damaging to a person as the lack of sunshine is to a plant, causing it to shrivel up and die.
To thrive once again, you must counter and manage anxiety firmly and decisively.
Steps to Manage Your Anxiety and Begin to Thrive Again
Daily Prevention of Anxiety
To successfully manage anxiety, you first need to know what triggers it. This will help you to avoid those triggers. Consider journaling, writing down exactly what happened when you feel anxious or stressed.
Second, you must learn preventative methods to avoid stress. This includes such things as:
Regular daily exercise – 15-20 minutes of any gentle aerobic routine (increase the fun and enjoyment by doing it to music or enlisting an exercise buddy)
Eating a balanced diet – eat healthy, unprocessed foods and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
Sufficient sleep – go to bed and get up at regular times
Coping Methods for an Anxiety Attack
Despite preventative action, a panic attack may strike. Learn to recognize the symptoms and immediately begin utilizing coping methods. Some of the most helpful are:
Deep breathing – inhale through your nose to the count of 5, hold your breath to the count of 2, then exhale through your mouth to the count of 5
Self-talk – replace negative thoughts with positive statements or challenge your negative thinking with logic
Relaxation techniques – other than deep breathing, you can also relax through yoga, meditation, a massage, or listening to music
Time out – remove yourself from the stressful situation to clear your head and count to 10 or 20 if necessary to allow the anxious feelings to subside
Have a good laugh – welcome humor and watch or read something funny to distract you and help your brain produce anxiety-blasting hormones
Learn to put stress in perspective and accept that you cannot control everything. Do your best when coping with an anxiety attack – don’t expect perfection.
Safety Plan for a Crisis
If, for some reason, a crisis arises – a moment in which you feel you simply cannot overcome the anxiety or stress with your usual coping methods – do not hesitate to reach out for help. Have a support system you can connect with when you become overwhelmed. For example:
A friend or family member you trust – have a list with numbers of those that you feel can help you when you can’t bring yourself out of a panic attack – call them and talk to them
Your personal physician – talk with your doctor about being able to fall back on their support should you need it
The local emergency department – have the number at hand and don’t hesitate to call if all else fails
Make sure you have a list of your emergency supports ahead of time. Keep them in an easily accessible place. You don’t need to be hunting for numbers when you’re already in panic mode.
If you cannot manage your anxiety by yourself, there’s need for professional treatment. Find a good therapist or counselor to help guide you to the best treatment method for your case. You may also want to talk to a psychiatric professional about the possibility of medication.
Employing the above mentioned steps and learning to manage anxiety can have an enormously positive effect on your life. Be assured, you can bring the sunshine back into your life and begin to thrive again!
Cathy Bruno, LMFT works with individuals and couples experiencing Grief/Loss, Trauma/PTSD, Sexual Trauma, Spiritual/Existential issues, Women’s Issues, Major Life Transitions, Personal Growth and Development, Depression & Anxiety.