Are You Experiencing Anxiety?
It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time. Perhaps you get a bit nervous speaking in front of people or going on a job interview. But for some people, anxiety becomes a frequent and forceful occurrence that completely takes over their lives.
Anxiety comes in many forms; for instance, panic attacks, phobias, and social anxiety. It can often be difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is “normal” or has crossed the line into a mood disorder. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms or having trouble managing them, working with a therapist can help identify more what you are dealing with and treatment options.
5 Signs You Might Be Dealing with Anxiety
General anxiety disorder (GAD), the broadest type of anxiety, is characterized by excessive worry. People with GAD worry too much about everyday things, both big and small. But what constitutes “too much worry?”
With GAD, people experience persistent, anxious thoughts on most days of the week. This anxiety can become so overwhelming it interferes with their daily life. Suppose you are worrying to the degree that you have trouble doing daily tasks and are suffering from your emotions. In that case, it may be time to speak with a therapist.
Sleep issues such as falling asleep or staying asleep are associated with many health conditions, both physical and psychological. It’s normal for people to have trouble sleeping from time to time. Perhaps you find yourself tossing and turning before a big job interview or giving a presentation.
However, consider night after night, you lay awake, anxious about specific issues, or even nothing, in particular; It may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can often be accompanied by persistent muscle tension. Do you find yourself clenching your jaw or balling your fists throughout the day? You may have lived with this chronic muscular tension for so long you don’t even realize it anymore. While exercise can help relax muscles, therapy will get to the root cause of the anxiety.
While anxiety lives in the mind, it often manifests in the body through chronic digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Our guts are very sensitive to emotional and psychological stress. Unfortunately, digestive upset can make a person feel even more anxious.
Panic attacks can be a frightening experience. You experience an overwhelming feeling of dread and fear. These often are accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, and profuse sweating. However, not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience panic attacks. Those that do; live in constant fear.
Other Symptoms of a Panic Attack include:
- Feeling light-headed
- Tingling or Numbness in your extremities
- Heart palpitations or chest pains
- Fear of losing control or dying
- Difficulty Focusing
- Trembling or Chills
4 Simple Practices for Coping with Anxiety
Knowing how to cope with feelings of anxiety and learning ways to manage them can help. Recognizing certain situations, triggers, or stressful events that can cause your anxiety is also helpful in coping in your everyday life.
While working with a therapist is a vital part of learning to cope, there are other ways to help create a more peaceful internal state.
Focused Deep Breathing
Taking a Walk or Another Form of Exercise
Focused Deep Breathing
Evening out your breath and even slowing down your breathing can help deal with specific triggers and feelings of anxiousness. You may want to incorporate meditation and yoga into your daily routine as a way to calm and center yourself each day. You can practice deep-breathing anywhere at any time. If you have a smartphone or smart device, you can utilize apps like Headspace, Steady, or AirMood, to name a few that will aid in focused deep breathing.
There have been quite a few studies on Aromatherapy and its effectiveness in dealing with anxiety and stress. Some studies show little to no effect; other studies have shown that Aromatherapy can significantly help with anxiety and stress, mostly if used consistently over time. One of the simplest ways you can use Aromatherapy is by diffusing essential oils for inhalation. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath for relaxation.
Here’s a list of 10 Essential Oils that are good for anxiety or stress:
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary Sage
Essential oils are a great strategy you can use every day! There are many resources available regarding what oils are better quality, how to use them, even blending them for diffusing. The Herbal Academy is a great resource to check out if you’re interested in learning more about essential oils and how to incorporate them into your daily routine. As a quick disclaimer, not everyone responds well to essential oils, especially pregnant women, children, and pets. So be sure to do your research and consult your physician before you start any regiment.
Taking a Walk or Other Form of Exercise
There are many times when just getting up to take a walk, even if only for 15-20 minutes, can help you deal with a stressful situation or anxiousness. There are also many studies showing that regular exercise incorporated into your daily routine helps to regulate your mood, mental health, stress levels, and of course, overall physical health.
Writing down your thoughts and fears has been proven as an effective way to cope with anxiety. Journaling and writing through events and situations in your life can also help identify triggers by increasing your awareness, resulting in better coping strategies. Again, there are many resources available, even on effective journaling habits if you would like to research a little more about journaling. Here’s an article I found that could get you started: “Journaling is a Great Tool For Coping With Anxiety” by Elizabeth Scott, MS.
Anxiety disorders keep people from living a joyful and fulfilling life. Luckily there is help. Working with a therapist is an effective way to identify the root causes of your anxiety and what type of strategy and coping skills would be best for you. A few other coping skills that your therapist can recommend would be:
- Talk Therapy: Initially, this can help you identify certain situations, triggers, or root causes for what is happening internally.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): used to identify negative thought patterns and address how to challenge your thoughts.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy: EMDR was initially developed to address PTSD, but is also useful in treating many other issues including, for example, anxiety and depression related to trauma.
- Supplements and Changing Your Diet: as a more long term strategy, certain supplements and diet changes can help manage stress and feelings of anxiety. Here’s another resource you may want to check out for more information on diet changes a few women made in response to their dealings with anxiety.
- Medication: In some cases, certain medications can be a viable strategy in coping with anxiety. Your therapist and your physician would determine if medication is right for you and what type of drugs would be sufficient.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Norine Vander Hooven is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been in practice for 30 years. Norine views the decision to enter therapy as displaying strength and courage. She specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, women’s issues, and life transitions. Norine is also EMDR trained and uses this to work with people with PTSD and severe anxiety. Norine works with adolescents, adults, and families.