How To Cope With Your Anxiety
These last few years, Covid-19 has taken it’s toll on all of us. We have been trapped in our homes,
shielded our faces behind masks, and distanced from our loved ones. We have felt a plethora of emotions including fear and loneliness. It’s not a secret that now more than ever, therapists are seeing more and more clients who are reaching out with health anxiety, relationship anxiety, and social anxiety. Anxiety is a scary word to most. Mainly because it’s still relatively misunderstood. Most people are still not taught how to process or cope with their anxiety, and when you don’t know how to cope with something, just the thought of that something can become catastrophic.
Anxiety can appear in many forms, and usually someone who has one, will also have another. For example, a person who has relationship or attachment anxiety, might also have health anxiety. Someone who has social anxiety might also experience performance anxiety. Sometimes you might feel anxious for very rational reasons. Especially if the thing that is making us anxious has been proven to happen. While other times, your anxiety might come from an irrational place. Either way, anxiety is a very real feeling that effects millions of people, and usually you have it when you fear coping poorly to a situation.
As a person who is experiencing anxiety, you might feel some or all of the following:
- Racing Thoughts
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Shortness of Breath
- Heaviness or Tightness in Your Body
- Frozen Body
- Rush of Adrenaline
Here are three coping strategies for those of you who suffer from anxiety and are wondering what steps you can take to process it.
Acknowledge that you have anxiety and give yourself permission to have it.
Many folks already have a narrative about anxiety which was given to them by their parents, friends, culture, or society. For some, that message is that anxiety is bad. So bad that some people don’t even know they have it. For others, it’s that having anxiety is shameful. Either way, when you are taught that something is bad or shameful, confronting and learning how to process your anxiety is usually the last thing you’ll consider. Unfortunately when you push down your feelings your brain doesn’t know what to do with them. So instead they sit there untouched and unprocessed.
Think of it like a layer of dust that accumulates in the corner of your house. When the dust first settles, its small and you’re likely to not notice it. But then you leave it for months and that dust becomes a collection of dirt. Eventually if you leave it for years, it builds so badly that you can’t see the floor and all you have is a mound. Our anxiety is the same way. If left unprocessed it will grow. Until eventually it’s so big that you need to dig yourself out. So instead of ignoring it and letting it grow, it’s best to confront it. Look at the anxiety and acknowledge that the emotion is a normal part of who you are and it’s okay to feel.
Acknowledging it and giving yourself the permission to experience it is the first step to coping with it.
Let your body cope by physically feeling it.
Anxiety is not just mental. It’s physical too. Our minds and bodies are a whole and what effects one will effect the other. The reasoning behind letting yourself physically feel it is so that you can learn how to control and cope with your anxiety. Try this short exercise:
Move to a chair and force yourself to sit in an uncomfortable position. Lower your back enough so that you have poor posture, tighten your abdominals and shoulders.
Do it for one minute.
Notice how uncomfortable this position is for both your body and for your mind. How does your body feel like this? How does your head feel?
Now reposition yourself so that you are relaxed. Switch your posture to something more comfortable, relax your shoulders and take a deep breath.
Notice how your feelings have changed.
When you allow yourself to physically feel your symptoms of anxiety then you can learn what you can do to treat those symptoms. You can empower yourself by taking control and giving yourself the right tools to calm your nervous system so that coping with your anxiety becomes easier.
Try new anxiety coping skills and then choose two.
Processing anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all. Whether it is journaling, walking, listening to music, or meditation. Everyone has something they can do that will help them process their emotions. Learn about why these strategies are beneficial.
Further research suggests that anxiety can be significantly reduced by using techniques which will calm your nervous system, specifically the Vagus Nerve. Some of these include:
- Cold Exposure – place an icepack on your forehead, wrists, or back of neck
- Taking Probiotics
- Deep Breathing Exercises
Coping with your anxiety might feel like a daunting task, but after this year, taking some control of your life back might never feel better. Ask one of our therapists to help support you on your journey. Fill out our request form and we will contact you as soon as possible.
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