Anxiety is a common disorder, and it can be debilitating. Characterised by excessive worrying, anxiety could have the sufferer experiencing the world as a threatening place and seeing minor threats as major ones. But sufferers can use strategies such as exercise, humour, present-moment focus and structured problem solving to manage or reduce their anxiety.
Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, specific phobias, panic disorder, and other disorders. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common. Signs include persistent, excessive worry about everyday things. Other signs are feeling restless or on edge, difficulty concentrating, irritability, difficult falling asleep, over-planning, and seeking reassurance from others.
If you have GAD, you might find this worrying hard to control and beyond the level of normal worrying. The worrying can last for months. GAD can negatively impact job, social, and even physical outcomes for sufferers. Around 3% of the population is diagnosed with GAD every year.
Causes of anxiety
Anxiety conditions typically arise from a combination of factors rather than a single cause. Personality factors, challenging life experiences, and physical health could contribute to anxiety disorders, as could a family history of mental health issues or genetic predisposition. Physical conditions could include diabetes, asthma, and hypertension and heart disease.
8 simple strategies for reducing or managing anxiety
The good thing to know about anxiety disorders is you might be able to reduce or manage them. For example, a healthy diet and lifestyle could reduce anxiety, as could keeping a good sleep routine.
What works is different for everyone, so take time to identify the best strategies for you. Seek professional advice if your anxiety is challenging to manage.
- Try relaxation techniques
If you have anxiety, you tend to have trouble relaxing, so try different relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety. These could help with anxiety by targeting physical tension.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – Close your eyes and slowly tense and relax each muscle group, moving from your toes to your head. Tense for three seconds and relax.
- Abdominal breathing – Take deep, slow breaths by counting to three as you breathe in slowly and doing the same as you breath out again.
- Plan short-term activities
Integrate short-term activities into your daily routine, focusing on things that are enjoyable or distracting. Things to try include exercise, which can distract you while boosting brain chemicals that could counter anxiety. Other activities include artwork, listening to music, reading, chatting with friends or other hobbies you enjoy
- Get social support
Simply talking to others about how you’re feeling could reduce the mental burden and help you feel less alone. Draw on your network of family and friends for support , and join support groups for anxiety sufferers. Discussing anxiety with other anxiety sufferers can also be beneficial as you can learn from their experience.
- Practise the right mindset
Having anxiety typically means you’re worrying about future scenarios that likely will never happen. Practise staying in the present. If you find yourself worrying, bring yourself back to the present. Meditation techniques can help you strengthen present moment awareness.
- Use optimism and humour
Research suggests you can learn to be optimistic. Practise viewing the glass as half full rather than half empty with constructive self-talk. Problems are temporary, and unpleasant experiences are due to specific and not general causes. Injecting humour could also have a beneficial impact.
- Use structured problem solving
Use structured problem-solving techniques to manage stressors, by breaking problems down to components and tackling each part. Instead of worrying about the problem, you’ll be focused on how to solve it.
- Use graded exposure
If you avoid social situations due to anxiety, you can gradually confront the fear by using graded exposure. For instance, if you get social anxiety about eating in front of others, you could start with going to a coffee shop alone, then by meeting a friend there for a drink, and repeat this until you’re comfortable having a meal out with more people like friends or colleagues.
- Plan time for worry
Devote 10 minutes every night to write down your worries. Give yourself free rein to think and worry about these during this time without censoring your thoughts or having to catch yourself. Having dedicated time like this could stop your worries overwhelming your brain during the rest of the day. You could also use this time to keep a diary of your anxiety, so you get a clearer idea of its patterns.
Speak to a trained consultant
Anxiety can be a serious, challenging disorder, but you can take advantage of strategies to combat it. If you have anxiety, try relaxation techniques and get social support. Integrating activities to distract yourself could also help. Techniques like optimism, humour, present-moment focus, and structured problem solving could prove beneficial. Graded exposure to your fears and devoting time to worry are other ways to manage your anxiety.
If you or someone you know needs help with anxiety, we invite you to speak with one of our trained consultants about tailoring a program best suited for your needs. Simply fill in our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you or call us at Palladium Private on 1300 573 095.