Keep Anxiety at bay by following these simple rules
Fear and anxiety are normal emotions that help us recognize dangers or threats and keep us safe. However, when our fear or anxiety becomes severe or extreme, i.e. when we worry excessively over events and issues and fear negative outcomes; it causes significant distress and impairs our ability to function at the office or in our relationships. For example, extreme fear can lead us to have a panic attack, which is an anxiety disorder. Some symptoms of anxiety are fatigue, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, muscle aches, and impaired concentration.
It is important to note that anxiety disorders are a very common experience and we have to find ways that work for us to help cope with our anxiety. Some of these are discussed below.
- Finding “me” time: A large part of anxiety and stress develops when we feel overwhelmed by all that we have to do or attend to do and we feel we have no time for ourselves. This inability to find ‘me’ time can be disastrous. So it’s important that we take an hour or two out per week at least for ourselves and spend that time just doing the things we like doing, with no thought about another person and our duties etc. It may seem difficult to do this at first, but if we decide to do this for ourselves, we will find that we are able to find this time despite a hurried schedule. This time can be spent going to the library and reading a book, taking a walk in the park by yourself, or taking up a hobby like painting or music.
- Limit the coffee and alcohol: Consumption of alcohol and caffeine can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Keeping this in mind, it is best if we do not take alcohol or coffee, or if we do, we reduce the intake as far as possible.
- Good diet, exercise and rest: These are important for everyone, but especially for those of us who are ridden by anxiety. Lack of proper sleep leads to greater anxiety and tension. Eating well-balanced and healthy meals on time is essential. Include foods with omega 3 fatty acids (for example fish, walnuts and flaxseed) and probiotics. Stay away from sugar, oil, and high-fat and processed foods. If anxiety surfaces, some form of exercises like going out for a light jog or a quick walk will often help reduce the impact of anxiety.
- Make Notes the Night Before: Instead of letting our mind race anxiously at night, we can make a note of our thoughts and plans before sleeping. This will allow us to relax and reduce your tension about forgetting something that needs to be done the next day.
- Relaxation Strategies: When we are anxious, we are often overwhelmed with the idea of loss of control over the situations we face or experience. By following certain relaxation strategies like meditation, we learn to unwind our keyed up states and reduce the amount of tension we experience. This, in turn, helps us increase our confidence in our abilities to deal with the situations we face in everyday life. Apart from meditation and yoga, another method that can help us relax is one of guided imagery. It uses directed mental visualization to create a feeling of relaxation. We may turn our thoughts to imagining positive experiences or visualizing a quiet garden space or a blue, inviting lake. By focusing on positive feelings through this exercise, we move away from anxiety towards calm.
Learning and implementing strategies that help us cope with our anxieties go a long way to manage our lives and lead a relaxed and meaningful life.