Updated: 2 days ago
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety affects millions of people around the world and comes in many different forms. There is a broad spectrum of how it impacts your life, from mild worry to thoughts that become obsessive, never-ending, and life-threatening. Anxiousness is something that everyone experiences at some point in life: More than ever, children are also expressing feelings of anxiousness and stress. It has become part of our global human experience.
Anxiety has an official medical definition according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. These are the 5 things that meet the criteria:
Phobias: these are 'super' fears of something like an animal or activity, like flying. A person with a phobia isn't just afraid; they are irrationally terrified. Anyone would be frightened as a plane was crashing – they behave as if it is crashing, as it coasts gently through a serene sky.
Panic Disorders: We are all familiar with fight, flight, freeze, faint reactions that kick in during stressful situations. Our hearts pound, we sweat, our vision dims as all the blood drains from unessential organs and goes to the muscles to escape. We might feel nausea, vomit and eventually pass out. This is what a panic attack feels like, and it can kick in randomly and last 10-15 minutes.
Agoraphobia: A stay at home order is music to an agoraphobe's ears. They might want to go outside, but they cannot. They are phobic about being in public spaces. They have experienced the sensations of panic attacks in public and now associate the two.
Social Anxiety Disorder: Most of us have a negative critic, but this is magnified dramatically for the socially anxious person. They are consumed with thoughts of what others are thinking and saying about them to the point that it is painful to be in the company of others.
General Anxiety Disorder: We all worry from time to time. GAD is a persistent worry that interferes with your work, your sleep, and your life and lasts for more than six months.
Check out this website for some wonderful insight into the complexities of the condition: https://www.anxietycanada.com/. If you feel like you have any of these 5 issues, the best course of action is to talk to your doctor immediately.
Whether or not you meet a clinical definition of anxiety, we all have stress and anxiousness that creeps in from time to time. You can immediately take some simple steps that start to work right away to ease the tension and reduce your worry.
How Can I Overcome My Anxiety?
1. Identify Your Triggers:
Everything starts somewhere, so start noticing where your somewhere is. To find out your triggers, you need to be awake, conscious and aware in your day to day life. Learn to stay in the present moment by increasing your mindfulness before an event occurs. Practice by tuning into your body and your senses. Take time to observe the feel of your clothing on your skin, really breathe in the aroma of your coffee or tea, taste the juice from the orange as it bursts into your mouth, listen to the sound of your child laughing, see the sun sparkling like diamonds on the pavement on your walk.
The more you are in tune with your body in the moment, the sooner you will notice when something starts to feel "off".
As soon as you notice that you have been triggered, your sympathetic nervous system will initiate a reaction. Your pulse will quicken, your respirations will change. Now is the time to take control of yourself and your breath. Take an in-breath through your nose for 1, 2, 3 and hold 1, 2, 3 and then exhale for a much longer out-breath. This extended out-breath is a signal to your parasympathetic nervous system that says: "I am safe".
Repeat this breathing pattern slowly and consciously to put yourself in the driver's seat. You don't have much time, just a few seconds for you to gain take the wheel. That is why it is so important to practice when you are calm and collected.
3. Talk to Yourself:
During anxious moments your negative voice is likely to be whispering critical and detrimental comments in your ear. With each of the types of anxiety and general worry, negativity and insecurity are common denominators. Confident, capable, secure people do get stressed and anxious from time to time, but they can change their mindset and use positive self talk to re-focus.
When you are clear about your goals, who you are and where you are headed, there is no room for worry, self-doubt, fear and anxiety. How do you change your mindset?
Affirmations are an excellent tool to have in your back pocket. When you are in an anxious moment, pull out your favourite ones, reminding you that you are ok. "You Got This!" The thing with affirmations is they only work when you believe them, so the time to start inventing them is not when you are feeling at your worst. Check out this blog to learn How to Create Your Right Affirmations.
Your mind is a funny thing.
It feels like it is working against you in the anxious moment, yet you can use your mind to create whatever state you want. It will do what you will it do. It will see what you will it to see. Our mind is like a garden. It really doesn't care what you plant in it. It will grow whatever seeds you have taken the time to put into it, water, tend and sow.
If you put in weeds, it will sprout them in abundance, and if you put in lilac, lavender, and lilies, you will have a garden of purple and mauve. It is up to you. If you want to generate a calm state, then spend time creating a calm, lovely space in your mind.
Find a comfortable place, give yourself permission for the time and privacy to be alone with your thoughts for 10 to 30 minutes and relax. Many apps offer guided meditations and visualizations, leading you into detailed scenes and imagery in nature or through vision quests.
Endorphins are our natural feel-good chemicals, and they are released with certain activities. Sex is one. So, go for it. And any other form of exercise works too. I love to walk here in my new hometown of Stratford, Ontario. I head into one of the many trails by the Avon River with my dog and meander for miles and miles. I don't go fast, and I would never classify it as "hiking", but it makes me feel good and definitely releases endorphins for both of us.
Yoga is an excellent exercise for anyone struggling with worry or anxiousness because it focuses your attention within. It is an exercise that incorporates mind, body and spirit. Each pose is an opportunity to practice mindfulness and breathe deeply and stretch your muscles.
Dance is a beautiful way to engage your sacral chakra and increase your creative, feminine energy. Stress and anxiety are often linked to the masculine energy of aggressiveness, competitiveness, and drive, so the more we can bring in our feminine spirit, the better. You don't have to be a ballerina: just move your body to music that you love; that is dance.
It's Easier Than You Think
None of these tips cost a penny, need any special equipment or assistance from another person. Every one of them is constantly at your disposal and within your control. You have the power to use all of these tools in an instant. Becoming less anxious and stressed does take awareness and a desire to change on your part. Once you have those essential ingredients, it is easier than you think.
What is the alternative?
Unless you decide to control your mind and make some changes, then the result will be the same. Taking control of your anxiety equals taking control of your life. It is worth it to feel calmer, more confident, secure in your relationships, happier at work, healthier, able to sleep, go where you want, when you want, be who you want and achieve your goals in life.
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