Anxiety is not just about feeling a little worried

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Feeling anxious can seriously disrupt your day-to-day life. Here are some ways you can start to take control of your anxiety.

Anxiety can completely disrupt your life. Living with anxiety can make it difficult to work, study and just enjoy life. Anxiety can impact almost every aspect of your life; most commonly this is through a person’s internal dialogue or “self-talk” (their inner monologue) as well as physical symptoms. It’s important to realise that these symptoms are not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of, rather they are an indication that anxiety is present. As you learn more about anxiety, you can start to take control and reduce the impact it has on your life.

1. Identify your triggers

Pay attention to what triggers your anxiety, and make a plan for when you can’t avoid those things. For example, if you get anxious when you’re in public, have a grounding technique that decreases your anxious feelings. If you have a stressful job or relationship that’s causing anxiety, look into how you can manage the stress better—maybe take some time off work or talk with your partner about how they can be more supportive of you. Download my Trigger Tracking Log

2. Learn to relax

Relaxation is an important part of managing your anxiety. When you’re feeling stressed, take some time to relax by doing something that makes you feel calm and peaceful—such as listening to music or meditating. I find that listening to white noise such as ocean waves while smelling peppermint oil helps reduce my anxiety. Try different techniques designed to reduce anxiety to figure out which ones work for you, and which ones do not.

3. Get rid of distractions

When you’re feeling anxious, it can be hard to focus. Try to eliminate distractions from your environment so that you can focus on what’s important. Be mindful not to avoid the things that cause you anxiety, avoidance creates a positive feedback loop to your brain confirming its belief that you were in imminent danger. The part of the brain that activates the anxiety response system cannot tell the difference between imminent danger and perceived dangers.

4. Do something productive

When you feel anxious about something, it’s easy to get lost in worry about what might happen and miss out on doing things that will help you feel better. Work on staying present and in the moment, every time you find yourself back in your worried thoughts, redirect your focus back to the task at hand.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re feeling anxious about something, it’s important not to feel like you need to handle it all on your own. If there’s someone who can help, ask them for assistance. If you feel you need more than a friend to help, call and schedule a consultation with a therapist to see how therapy can help you.

6. Get enough sleep

Sleep is one of the best ways to improve your mood and reduce anxiety. It’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, so make sure you’re getting your required amount of rest before tackling stressful situations. If you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep, try initiating sleep hygiene techniques to improve your sleep.

Anxiety is a highly personal experience that varies from person to person. What works for one might not work for another, so experiment with the tactics above to find what works best for you. However, the most important thing is to take the first steps towards feeling better and having a more fulfilling life, one that doesn’t revolve around your anxiety.

Finally, remember that despite your anxiety, you are still a warm, intelligent, impressive human being. Accept the fact that you have anxiety – it’s an important first step to getting help and winning your battle with it.

Melixa Carbonell, MA, LMHC, ADHD-CCSP, NCC is a clinical mental health provider with a private practice specializing in anxiety, ADHD, and life changes. Call or email for a free 15-minute consultation at 321.287.6919 or at [email protected]