Deal with anxiety with these valuable tools.
You're in bed thinking about your job or maybe your health. It's been an hour, and you can't sleep. Worried thoughts keep running through your mind. To make matters worse, you have to get up in five hours to go to work, and you are now thinking about the fact that you cannot go to sleep. If this sounds familiar, then you are not alone. More than 40 millions adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with anxiety disorders every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. It is a normal human emotion that can be beneficial in many ways. Anxiety is associated with a primal instinct that helps humans avoid threats. If you come across a bear while hiking, you will experience what is known as the “fight or flight” response. This response serves to help you survive by increasing awareness and energy.
While some anxiety is healthy, it can be crippling if it takes over your life. It may stop you from living fully. When stress gets to the point that it interferes with daily activities or prevents you from going places, then it is important to find tools for dealing with it. If left untreated, anxiety is detrimental to physical health. It can cause upset stomach, loss of libido, headaches and more. Here are three tools that I've found especially helpful for anxiety.
Practicing yoga on a daily basis is a simple way to relieve tension and stress. Research studies have found that yoga helps to regulate the stress response systems in the body, which decreases the physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate. By lowering blood pressure, respiration and heart rate, yoga can help you feel physically relaxed.
#2 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. CBT is a type of therapy that helps you identify false thoughts or beliefs and replace those with more realistic ways of thinking. For example, if you lose your job, you might think "I am worthless. No one will ever hire me again." This thought is hugely damaging and will likely lead you to feel hopeless, which might cause you not even to bother applying for jobs. If you don't apply for any jobs, you won't be hired. So, this thought is a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. A therapist who is skilled in CBT will help you identify when you are having false beliefs and replace those with healthier ones. Replacing negative thoughts with more accurate ones should lead to less anxiety.
#3 Relaxation Exercises
There are numerous relaxation exercises that you can try to reduce stress including progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and visualization. Like yoga, these exercises help reduce the physiological signs of anxiety. Relaxation exercises are a great natural supplement to cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety.
Here are the most common relaxation exercises. Find ones that work for you and try to practice them for at least 20 minutes per day.
Deep breathing - This is sometimes called belly breathing. To learn how to do deep breathing, check out this blog post.
Guided imagery - For this technique, you think up calming images in your mind to help you relax. There are a variety of free guided imagery apps available for both Android and iOS. One of my favorite guided imagery apps is Calm.
Mindfulness meditation - The practice involves finding a comfortable position, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind to the present. During this meditation, it is important not to let your mind wander to the past or the future. Most worries come from thoughts about the past or future. Staying in the present helps you get rid of anxiety.
If you are concerned about anxiety, contact The Relationship Therapist Center in Sacramento, CA today to schedule a therapy appointment.
Nancy Ryan, LMFT specializes in working with individuals and couples who want deep, satisfying relationships with themselves and their partners. She works with couples who are ready to stop the destructive patterns and want to build the love, friendship and romance back into their partnership.