What To Do When Your Anxiety Becomes Hard to Handle
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in life. Usually the situation and the anxiety surrounding it are only temporary, but for someone with an anxiety disorder, the worry doesn’t simply go away. It escalates and may worsen over time.
What happens when your anxiety interferes with your daily life?
Signs and Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
If your struggle with anxiety is affecting your ability to function daily, you may have an anxiety disorder. Simple tasks like running an errand, cleaning or going to a social event at work become daunting. Even if you have weeks to prepare, the anxiety can be devastating.
There are many types of anxiety. You may have a panic disorder, where feelings of terror strike without warning. You could suffer from social anxiety disorder, which is also known as social phobia, where you become overly self-conscious in social situations. It’s terrifying when your anxiety inhibits your ability to breathe. Symptoms can vary depending on the anxiety disorder, but they may include:
- Panic, fear, discomfort
- Insomnia or sleep issues
- Cold or sweating hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Racing heartbeat
- Inability to be still and calm
- Loss of balance or dizziness
- Tingling hands and feet
The symptoms may or may not be consistent enough to notice a pattern and allow you time to cope. When you can recognize the onset of chronic anxiety, you are better prepared to deal with it.
5 Tips for Coping With Anxiety
How do you cope with an anxiety disorder when the symptoms are so overwhelming and persistent? You notice your hands are tingling, and you’re restless. Anxiety is kicking in. It’s a good idea to sit down and focus on your breathing to relax, and there are other ways to deal when anxiety strikes.
Learn Your Triggers and Explain Them to Others
Look for repeated instances of anxiety affecting you under certain circumstances. Ask yourself questions about what happened and the circumstances surrounding the situation.
You may be fine dancing at a bar with friends, but when the crowd gets thicker and people become more aggressive, your feelings may shift. The music may suddenly seem louder, and you notice that it’s harder to breathe. For some people, a little fresh air helps, but that’s not always the case.
To learn your triggers, it’s helpful to keep a log or journal outlining the scenario in which anxiety strikes. Take notes about the signs and how you reacted. Share your knowledge with loved ones and a person you trust at work to help you recognize and deal with the triggers.
Avoid Consuming Anything That Will Induce Your Anxiety
Avoid caffeine, which will raise your heart rate and make you more prone to a panic attack. Coffee and chocolate are primary culprits. Anxiety disorder symptoms are also aggravated by some over-the-counter drugs, alcohol and illicit drugs. Anxiety triggers also include things that you usually wouldn’t consider, such as dehydration and skipping meals, which increase your chances of experiencing anxiety.
Develop Healthy Boundaries
If you suffer from anxiety, you’re probably highly sensitive and self-conscious of your excessive worrying. You may finding yourself apologizing often and not making adequate time for self-care. Developing healthy boundaries will help you cope with anxiety.
Learn to say no. You might be expected to attend every family event, and you may feel guilty skipping events that don’t fit into your schedule. A healthy coping mechanism could be making time to be alone and recharge between big family gatherings, especially over the holidays. If you don’t make time for your needed break, you may end up feeling anxious and unhappy.
Developing and enforcing healthy boundaries may lead to others attempting to make you feel guilty because your behavior has suddenly changed, which only escalates your anxiety. It will take a while for everyone to adjust, but remember that healthy boundaries reinforce a healthy lifestyle.
Practice Techniques for Stress Management
It’s important to create daily self-care rituals, both small and large, that help keep your stress levels down. Consider waking up with the sun and doing a yoga routine, meditating before bed or taking a hot bath with soothing oils. Develop techniques for self-care and stress relief that work for you. If you’re engaging an activity for the sake of doing it — but you aren’t actually enjoying it — what’s the point? Develop a self-care ritual that truly de-stresses you.
Recognize That Therapy Can Help
There is a stigma around mental disorders and receiving therapy as treatment. Know that cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective psychotherapy for treating anxiety disorders. It teaches you various ways of thinking about anxiety and healthier ways to behave and react when it strikes.
CBT has two specific forms of treatment for anxiety disorders: cognitive therapy and exposure therapy:
- Cognitive therapy focuses on the identification of behavior patterns, to understand how they function and alter your thoughts and behaviors. Benefits can be seen as early as twelve weeks.
- Exposure therapy seeks to reduce anxiety and fear-based responses by exposing patients to a feared circumstance. The idea is that the patient will become less sensitive to the trigger over time. It’s particularly effective for obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias, which are linked with anxiety.
There’s no shame in seeking help from a support group or through therapeutic treatments. Over time, you will feel more empowered when anxiety strikes. Everyone worries. Everyone has a fear. Sometimes, anxiety becomes hard to handle in your daily life, but there are ways to cope with it.
Recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety to better cope and track your triggers.