3 Ways to Successfully Manage Your Crippling Anxiety
Anxiety sucks, and everyone experiences it differently. For some, anxiety comes in waves of nausea and heart palpitations when presented with a difficult task. For others, symptoms are more constant and severe, like chest pain, panic attacks, or unpleasant and uncontrollable thoughts.
However you experience your anxiety, just know that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are skyrocketing in the U.S. with 18% of the population diagnosed per year (source), and that number only reflects those that have been diagnosed by a doctor.
The good news is, there are simple ways to cope with your anxiety. Of course, everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for everyone, but these are the three methods I have found to be most helpful for me and for others in my circle who suffer from anxiety.
A lot of people are reluctant to start therapy even if they know they’ll benefit from it. This is because, unfortunately, going to therapy still has a stigma attached to it. Having a mental illness can cause unnecessary shame. If you come down with a physical illness, say a stomach bug or a sinus infection, you would go to your primary doctor, right? So, seeing a mental health professional should be no different. They are there to help, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for seeking professional help.
If you know you could benefit from therapy, but you’re hesitant to take that first step, online therapy could be the answer for you. There are several platforms out there that will connect you with a therapist who you’ll have access to via chat, video call, or phone call. I’ve found a lot of success with Better Help. It’s easy to use, and you can chat with your therapist on your own time in the comfort of your own home. If you want to, you can talk to your therapist in your pajamas from your own bed, which, in my opinion, is preferred to pants and an office.
I know, you’ve probably heard this suggestion before, but meditation is truly a game changer! You only need a few minutes every day to start seeing the benefits, and you don’t have to be an expert or even kind of good at it right away. Meditation is really just sitting, breathing, and being okay with doing nothing. Meditation isn’t about fighting your anxiety; it’s about accepting it and breathing through it. The more you accept and recognize your thoughts and emotions, the easier it will be to manage them.
Meditation can be hard to grasp at first, so guidance is always helpful. There are plenty of free meditations out there, but I’ve had the best experience with the Calm app. They have daily meditations, meditations for specific concerns such as grief or pain, and sleep stories to help quiet your racing mind at night. Who doesn’t want to fall asleep to Nick Offerman reading Little Red Riding Hood?
The more you know about anxiety, the less power it will hold over you, so learn as much as you possibly can. I’ve read countless books about anxiety, brain function, and tools to help manage daily anxiety. I found that the more information I absorbed, the less I feared my anxiety. It became easier to see anxiety for what it was, a chemical and protective reaction in the brain. Once you know how and why anxiety exists, you can create a management plan that works for you. Everyone learns differently, so if you’re more technical, go with a book that gives a scientific explanation. If you’re more spiritual, look for a book that will support your interests. There are no rules, as long as the information is credible and helpful.
Dealing with anxiety is difficult, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Chances are there are people in your inner circle fighting their own anxiety battles. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t hesitate to reach out. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and your anxiety will become easier to manage.
I am not a medical professional, and this advice should not be taken over your doctor’s advice. I am simply communicating what worked for me and others that I know who suffer from anxiety.