Anxiety – that unwelcome intruder which leaves unmerited fear, racing hearts and minds and utter confusion in its wake. Whether we’re nervous about a big presentation or a first date, we all face anxiety from time to time.
Anxiety is an individualised feeling, with no two people experiencing it the same way. However, there are several commonalities that distinguish it from other disorders. Prominent features include ongoing worry, obstructive thoughts, confusion, sweating, nausea and restlessness, among others.
Sometimes it can be a good thing. Anxiety usually forces us to assess a situation and formulate an appropriate response. Problems arise when anxiety becomes a ‘default setting’ which impacts on your everyday life. The techniques below can help you self-manage anxiety, so it does not overtake your life.
- IDENTIFY TRIGGER FACTORS
The first step to anxiety management is identifying situations that make you anxious. The best way, to do this, is keeping a journal of symptoms and what is happening around you when anxiety occurs. Keeping a record of why and how your anxiety occurs will help you manage this situation better in the future.
- PROBLEM SOLVING
Once you have identified the specific situation(s) causing your anxiety, structured problem-solving can help resolve anxiety by addressing the underlying problem. Follow these steps to get to the root of the problem:
- Identify the problem
- Formulate as many options as possible to solve it
- Select your preferred option
- Develop a plan to test the viability of that option
- If this option doesn’t solve the problem, try others
- RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
People in a constant state of anxiety claim they have trouble relaxing. Relaxation promotes a physical and mental feeling of calm. Learning and practising a relaxation technique (i.e. yoga or meditation) can help you keep anxiety at a manageable level. To learn relaxation techniques, consult a psychologist or purchase self-help books and CDs to guide you through the process.
- THOUGHT MANAGEMENT
Thought management exercises assist people who suffer distressing thought patterns. Gentle distraction by deliberately focusing on pleasant thoughts can detract attention away from the current situation. Alternatively, ‘thought replacement’ or coping statements are quite effective. Thought replacement involves developing positive affirmations to counteract negative thoughts, such as: “This is hard, but I’ve been through it before and survived”, or: “Hang in there, this will pass”. Thought management does not ignore the circumstances; it merely helps you not to focus on them.
- LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Simple lifestyle changes can dramatically increase serotonin and dopamine levels, which translate into a happier, more balanced approach to life. Apply some of these changes over the coming weeks, and see how much better you feel.
- Take part in a pleasant activity each day
- Increase exercise
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Improve time-management skills
- SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE
If you feel your anxiety interferes with your everyday life, seek help from a psychologist. Psychologists are trained to assess anxiety, and help you understand anxiety and develop effective coping strategies.
To book an appointment with our experienced psychologist, please call us on 07 5596 9090.