Everybody feels anxious from time to time. Life tosses us a curveball and we stress out about it. For people who suffer from Anxiety (note the capital A), however, “feeling a little stressed out” would be a welcome relief.
Anxiety is different and more intense than the average person’s anxious feelings. For people who suffer from Anxiety, whether it is a Generalized Anxiety Disorder or something more specific like OCD or PTSD, every day things can become incredibly stressful and worrisome–often to the point of being debilitating. In fact, for many people who suffer from Anxiety, there doesn’t even have to be a specific trigger for these feelings. Panic, stress, worry, they can just flare up, seemingly out of nowhere!
Do You Suffer from Anxiety or Are You Just Stressed Out?
There are a lot of different symptoms associated with capital-A Anxiety (source: Health.com). The best way to figure out whether you suffer from an anxiety disorder or are just bogged down by every day stress is to have a psychologist or psychiatrist give you a thorough evaluation. A trained professional will ask you questions about your sleeping patterns, your specific triggers, your past, your fears, and may even send you for a physical examination since some of the symptoms of Anxiety are muscle tension, indigestion, increased heart rate, etc.
Treating Your Anxiety Disorder
If your symptoms are severe or constant, a psychiatrist might prescribe medication to help you keep those symptoms under control. It is important, though, that you work closely with your doctor to get your dosage figured out. This is because many of the drugs prescribed to help combat anxiety have a “high potential for abuse” (source: Axis Recovery).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before we go further, be wary of the urge to self medicate with alcohol and other illicit substances (yes, even if you live in one of the few parts of the country that have legalized some of them). Self-medicating is a slippery slope into addiction and abuse, which don’t help your anxiety as much as exacerbate it.
Natural Methods for Dealing With Anxiety
Eat healthfully. Everybody knows that eating a healthy and natural diet is important and can be a huge boost to your brain power. What you might not know is that healthy and natural foods are good for people who suffer from mental health issues like anxiety as well.
Caffeine and sugar, in particular can trigger and make your anxiety worse. The chemicals in processed foods, like MSG, can also wreak havoc on your hormone levels and, as a result, your anxiety. Steer clear of these substances and foods. It will be difficult at first, especially if you have a sweet tooth but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. It’s also worth noting that foods that elevate your blood sugar can also cause problems for people with anxiety. Eating low carb can help keep everything under control.
Shake your booty. There are dozens of studies out there that prove that getting regular exercise has a positive effect on mental health. If the idea of joining a gym freaks you out, don’t worry there are a lot of other things that you can do to get yourself up and moving on a regular basis!
The goal is to get your body moving and your heart pumping for at least twenty minutes a day. That 20 minutes every day is all you need to help yourself maintain an even keel. So, instead of trying to force yourself to deal with a workout you hate, find some type of movement that you actually enjoy! Dance around your home for twenty minutes every morning. Use one of the popular workout apps. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. You’ll figure it out.
Make some art. Finding a creative hobby is a great way to simultaneously get out of your head while also expressing things you might not feel comfortable talking about out loud. Some people knit or crochet because they find the motion soothing and like making things people can use. Others paint or sculpt. Heck, print out some coloring pages and go to town with some crayons. Write some poetry. Learn to play a musical instrument. Like with exercise, you might have to try a few things before you lock into something that works for you.
Finally, learn how to meditate and practice mindfulness. Meditation and mindfulness take some getting used to, but they have proven to be quite helpful in combating anxiety disorders, both during an anxiety attack and in the general sense.
Dealing with anxiety takes a multi-pronged approach. Work with your doctors to figure out which methods will work best for you.