Anxiety can mean alot of different things to people as there are many forms of anxiety. These include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress syndrome, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. It seems to me, to truly resolve the symptoms of anxiety, holistic changes must be made, which means the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional elements of a person must be addressed.
I tend to view worry and anxiety synonymously. Worrying is when you are focused on specific issues and anxiety is more generalized. For instance, if I’m concerned about something specific such as tomorrow’s weather, how I will get my shopping done, or whether my flight will be on time, I am worrying. If, on the other hand, I have a vague feeling something bad is going to happen, this is anxiety.
Listed below are some “tried and true” techniques for alleviating those anxious feelings:
The Mind of Anxiety
People say it’s “All in your mind,” and it’s true. Anxiety begins in the mind, and so the best place to start to resolve anxiety is there. There are numerous steps you can take, and here are a few:
- Cognitive behavioral therapists focus on an individual’s self-talk and explore what the client is saying to him or herself, as well as to others. This type of a therapist would also suggest repeating verbal affirmations, perhaps hundreds of times a day, writing them, and visualizing the intended results. Affirmations need to sound plausible and should be said in the present tense with a focus on what you want. Additionally, using the words “I am” is helpful. While I can provide examples, you really should formulate ones that resonate for you. General affirmations include: “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better,” “God is for me,” “I can do it,” or “All is well.” There are also websites that can help you create an affirmation, such as the University of Metaphysical Science or Science of the Mind.
- Byron Katie, well known author and speaker, suggests four simple questions to ask oneself about anxious thoughts or beliefs: 1) Is it true? 2) Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3) How do you react when you believe that thought?, and 4) Who would you be without the thought? Then apply a “turnaround” thought or belief to the original one.
- Wear a rubber band on your wrist, and every time an anxious thought arises, snap the rubber band. The pain will act as a reminder to stop the worry.
The Body of Anxiety
Anxiety affects the body, and the body affects anxiety. Therefore, if you take action to alleviate anxiety by ensuring your body is healthy and getting exercise, you have a greater chance of resolving anxiety once and for all. You should also
- Rule out health related problems that might be creating anxiety, and because this is the first thing you should do, if necessary make an appointment with your health care professional.
- Experts suggest moderate and vigorous exercise, particularly outdoor exercise, because it helps alleviate anxiety symptoms by relaxing tense muscles and getting the mind on other things. Also, don’t do any type of mental work at the same time, as that doesn’t help reduce anxiety. If you’re more into indoor exercises, the best one is yoga. In fact, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder particularly benefit from yoga, according to Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Balch claims “in some cases, people have been able to reduce or even eliminate medications after three to twelve months of weekly yoga.”
- Medications are in actuality band-aids; short-term solutions that don’t resolve the issues causing the anxiety; they only mask them. The goal is to understand the underlying reasons for the anxiety, and resolve them rather than stew about them.
- Diet is important to reduce anxiety. If you are eating foods that stress the body, you’re much more likely to be anxious. If you want to learn more about anxiety-inducing foods, read Foods to Avoid for Anxiety. If you want to learn how herbal teas and flower essences can calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety and panic, you can also read Reducing Anxiety and Panic Attacks.
The Spirituality of Anxiety
Spirituality is just as important as are the mental and physical aspects when dealing with anxiety. Spirituality helps relieves stress and helps people cope with their problems. Additionally, spirituality doesn’t mean sitting in church or confessing to a priest, spirituality can be found in small actions and everyday behavior.
- Therapists know that anxious people don’t think as clearly as those who are free of disruptive, anxious thoughts. So, trust in a higher power and pray because it can relieve your burdens by giving them to someone else. If you’re interested in learning more about prayer, read The Power of Prayer.
- Make a list of the anxieties. Start out with the words “I am anxious because,” and write everything that comes to mind. After the first list, start over, and name all the anxieties. There could be surprises.
- Practice mindfulness. Focusing on breathing or other thoughts gives the mind a rest from daily anxieties. If you want to learn more about how to incorporate mindfulness into your day, read Mindfulness Techniques. In addition, Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, is known internationally as a scientist, meditation teacher, and author, and he has written several books on the topic of mindfulness, including Full Catastrophe Living.
The Emotions of Anxiety
Emotions play a big part in anxiety, and to solve anxiety, it’s important to get a handle on them. Evaluating emotions can also make you more aware of how anxiety affects you and how it affects your life. It also give you an opportunity to learn techniques to control emotions and reduce anxiety. Here are some tips that can help.
- Journal writing gets worries and anxieties into the open so they can be addressed. Sometimes individuals are not clear about what the anxieties are, and they just feel a general sense of concern. Writing emotions and feelings down, helps make things clear.
- Just like renowned talk show host Dr. Phil suggests preparing for certain events in life in his newest book Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life, I propose planning for the anxieties. Think anxieties through and decide what can be done ahead of time. Action is more productive than non-action every time.
- Listen to the anxiety and resolve the issues as best you can. Sometimes a small action will relieve a big worry. For instance, if I am anxious about a bridal shower I’m hosting in five days because I know the weather is going to be bad for the next three days, instead I could try to take steps to resolve anticipated problems. I could a) make a list of what needs to be done, organize and schedule what needs to be done, check store hours, and check forecasts to confirm my time frame, b) I could also think about food alternatives and bake cookies or create hors d’oeuvres with ingredients I already have on hand, and c) I could decide what I can do right now to prepare for the party and do it.
- Put anxieties in a box and designate fifteen minutes a day to exploring them. Refuse to think of them any other time. In other words, take control of them rather than letting them control you.
- The past is over, so no use worrying about it. The future is still to come, and it may change before it gets here, so there’s also no point in being anxious. It’s fruitless. What you can do is focus on the moment. What is there to see, feel, touch, and hear, right NOW.
On one hand, anxiety can be debilitating and overwhelming, and, on the other hand, there are things you can do to alleviate anxiety. Anxiety is about being active and taking charge. It’s about addressing and engaging every part of yourself and using a holistic approach that considers and resolves the mind of anxiety, the body of anxiety, the spirituality of anxiety, and the emotions of anxiety. By doing so, you give yourself the best chance of finding relief.