Not too long ago, the managing company of a popular girl group in South Korea announced that one of the members of the group would be withdrawing from activities. The member was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
According to the medical experts who examined the young performer, the illness is unpredictable. The anxiety she feels can come and go, and the spells can fluctuate suddenly and spontaneously. Therefore, it’s still unknown whether or not she can resume activities anytime soon. However, to assist her recovery, she has been given time away from the public. This is to minimize her exposure to some of the potential causes of her anxiety.
This young performer’s condition is not uncommon. Reports show that anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in highly developed countries among people aged 18 and above. And as the world gets more and more competitive, the number of people who suffer from it is expected to increase.
Stress is considered a leading cause. This comes as no surprise because the need to meet high standards or expectations all the time has long been known to drive weary souls to the edge. Secondary to that are natural inclinations such as ruminating or persistently rehashing distressing situations and caring too much about what other people think.
Breaking the Anxiety Cycle
Indeed, anxiety is a life quality downgrade. Unfortunately, it is not something that you can just snap out of. However, there are strategies that, when applied with great intention and patience, can keep symptoms at bay. Here are seven of them.
1. Get professional treatment
This is the smartest thing you can do to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak. Stop relying so much on the well-meaning advice of the people around you. Their suggestions can just muddle your thoughts and feelings.
Instead, find a professional who can provide you with the right anxiety disorder treatment. It always helps to be backed by someone who’s an expert on your condition, especially when you deal with people who tend to impose their ideas on you.
Breathing is an activity that most people do not think about. However, for people who suffer from severe anxiety, it is imperative to be conscientious of the way they breathe, especially during a spell when the body feels tight.
Learn how to breathe in deeply and release your breath in a slow and extended matter. Doing this repetitively for about five to ten times can bring a wash of relaxation to your body. You may even find yourself feeling sleepy, which will allow you to escape negative emotions and thoughts.
3. Take a step back and divert your attention to other things
When a situation is making you extremely anxious, it always helps to extract yourself from it and do something that can take your mind away from it.
According to Stephen Ilardi, author of “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs,” a physically demanding activity that comes with both mental engagement and social contact is the best diversion. This will derail the negative train of thought and release tension.
Excellent activities for diversion when you’re feeling anxious are taking a hike in nature with a friend, playing cards, and even just walking your dog.
4. Start journaling
Journaling is one of the most therapeutic activities for people with anxiety disorder. Writing down thoughts and feelings in a notebook is a fantastic release. At the same time, it can provide insight into behaviors and patterns that trigger the disorder.
Seeing these patterns can help you come up with solutions to try and determine how you can better manage the spells that render you unhappy and unproductive.
5. Challenge your thoughts
One of the realities that you have to come to terms with is that your thoughts and feelings are not always true to situations. There is such a thing as cognitive distortion, which is a tendency to exaggerate thoughts.
Avoid letting a single interpretation of a situation get out of hand. Instead, learn to explore other reasonings behind the unpleasant things that happen and then test them for accuracy. This will make your negative and anxiety-triggering thoughts less believable.
6. Practice self-compassion
Anxiety is reinforced by anger directed toward one’s self. Do your best to avoid this. Be kinder to yourself because beating yourself down will only dig a deeper anxiety hole, and it wouldn’t help you in any way.
Learn to accept that there are things that you can no longer undo, but there is always a new day for successful attempts at getting things right. Only you can make the change you want. So, practice self-compassion — after all, all your experiences, be they good or bad, are valuable lessons that shape the best version of yourself.
7. Create quiet moments
Nurture your wellbeing by shutting down the noise around you. Silence is one of the known cures for anxiety, so find a place where you can just soak in quietness. When all the noise is gone, think about what’s making you anxious, but ponder upon them without judgment.
This practice will teach you to think about stressful situations like an outsider. You’ll see what’s going on, but you are detached from it so you can be more objective and gain the confidence to take action.
Small Changes Can Have a Big Impact
These changes do not seem like much, but if practice them with consistency, you will surely witness improvements with the symptoms of anxiety disorder. Just be patient and keep an open mind.
photo credit: shixart1985 Woman walking on a road in the woods. via photopin (license)
Henry Killingsworth says
You made an interesting point when you talked about how you should avoid relying on advice from other people when you are struggling with anxiety. My brother struggles with anxiety, and it sometimes makes it hard for him to be around other people because he is worried about what they will think of him. I think it would be a good idea for him to find a counselor that he can talk with.
Dr. Carlo says
Thanks for sharing, and finding a counselor sounds like an excellent plan.