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We all become anxious over something or the other on a daily basis. It, however, becomes a problem when it starts controlling our life. It’s completely fine if no one understands your preoccupation with worry. Our society is programmed in such a way that any problem related to the mind is looked down upon. I am sure once you decide to introspect and incorporate ways to manage anxiety, you shall discover a whole new dimension to your personality. We have listed out 6 tips to deal with Anxiety for you in this article. You can slowly include them in your life and liberate yourself from worries, tensions, stress.
WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety in simple words is a constant feeling of dread and fear without any particular reason for a prolonged period of time. You start worrying about events that are unlikely to happen. Some examples of anxiety are thoughts of losing a loved one, being ridiculed socially, health and diseases, disasters, etc.
Anxiety and fear are often used interchangeably, however, there is a difference between the two. Fear usually has a defined threat, anxiety doesn’t have a specific and clear source of threat. It is just an anticipation of a threat.
For example, there are 3 people in an elevator going to the 7th floor. The lift suddenly halts on the 4th floor. When this happens, people stuck start getting tense. After pressing the emergency button, they wait for help to come for almost 10 minutes. Tension mounts. Technician rushes for their aid and removes them from the elevator. The threat has gone, all three are safe. Here the threat is defined. This situation is of fear, once the threat is gone, fear subsides.
Now, let’s take the same example, 3 people onboard an elevator. Of the three, one person is tensed to set foot inside the lift. He thinks what if the elevator breaks down, I am stuck with these two and we run out air, on top of that what if no one comes to our assistance. Through this preoccupation, he still somehow manages to enter. Lift doors close, this person’s heart starts pounding, he looks tensed. He feels something dreadful is going to happen. He can’t put a finger on what could go wrong but he still feels uneasy. There is no defined threat present but still, the person is tensed. This situation is called anxiety.
Another example of anxiety is even if your loved one is safe in front of your eyes, you fear to lose him or her. This worry increases when they are away from you. Every day you anticipate a threatening situation that may happen. You imagine all the worst possible scenarios and start feeling miserable. There is no threat present but still, your body and mind go in a fight or flight response.
<Ref: Stanley Rachman, Anxiety, Psychology Press, 2004>
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY:
- Shortness of breath, shallow breathing, and air hunger
- Increased heart rate
- Constant headaches
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Feeling tired and fatigue even after resting
- Bloating, gas, acidity or constipation
- Muscle ache
- Trembling hands
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY?
There are six types of anxiety as listed below:-
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social Phobia
- Specific Phobias
<Ref:Allen R. Miller, Living with Anxiety Disorders, Infobase Publishing, 2008>
TIPS TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY
1. TALK THERAPY
The best way to deal with anxiety is to talk it out. Confide your thoughts and fear to someone you trust. It is very important to seek help from a non-judgmental person.
If you feel, there is nobody in your family or friend circle who would lend an ear without ridiculing you, then connect with a psychologist or a therapist. These people are trained professionals and they may use a suitable method in treating anxiety.
Generally, a psychologist will identify the type of anxiety and use either Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Therapy. Behavior therapy involves unlearning unwanted behavior patterns and learning new behavior. Cognitive therapy, on the other hand, involves a deeper understanding of your thought process. You identify your triggers, thoughts, and reactions to different situations.
Journaling simply means putting your thoughts in a diary. This method will help you if you do not like to share your problems with anyone. Daily noting down your thoughts, feeling, reactions, and emotions shall help in identifying your anxiety triggers. It also helps in organizing thoughts in a better fashion.
HOW TO DO JOURNALING:
Get a pocket-sized diary, name it Anxiety Journal. Whenever you feel anxious or fearful, take your diary, note your thoughts, feelings, physical symptoms, at that exact moment and what actions your mind is asking you to take. After this write the worst possible outcome, note down facts surrounding the thoughts, and change all your negative thoughts to positive affirmations.
For example: Sunita has health anxiety. She feels something dreadful is going to happen to her. She obsesses about her health day and night. She visits a Doctor once a week. The doctor has assured her that she is fine and shouldn’t worry. She has a heightened sense of physical symptoms which she googles daily. She does a complete blood count test once a month.
If Sunita was to do journaling, she would go about as below:
Thoughts: I am going to die. I am having a headache daily. I searched the diagnosis and one site confirms brain tumor. I am very worried. What will happen to my children if I die? I don’t want to die early. My local physician is not taking me seriously. I think he is not specialized in neurological disorders.
Feelings: I am feeling scared, sad, anxious. I feel gloomy as if there is nothing anyone can do to help me. I am so confused.
Physical symptoms: I am having a throbbing headache. My hands are trembling. I am sweating. My breathing is heavy.
Actions my mind is suggesting: I must visit a Doctor and do a CT scan. I must search for the best doctor in town and get an appointment.
Worst possible outcome: I have brain tumor and I am going to die.
Facts: I am not a health care professional. The doctor has studied medicine in greater detail and has assured me several times that I am having constant headaches due to lack of sleep. I am not facing any other symptoms of a brain tumor. The only diagnosis of constant headaches is not brain tumor.
Affirmations: I am healthy. I am fit. My body knows what to do in order to heal. I am safe. I am happy. I am calm and at peace.
Likewise, note down whatever makes you anxious daily. Once you understand your trail of thoughts that lead to anxiety, you yourself will identify real threat from a perceived one.
3. MUSIC THERAPY
Music has a direct effect on the brain thereby enhancing mood. Researches have found a positive effect of music on anxiety. But then the choice of music also matters a lot. If you keep listening to sad, melancholic songs, you are bound to feel gloomy. So, choose music that has a positive effect on mood.
Indian classical ragas:
There are some Indian classical ragas that instantly have a calming effect on mind. I have listed a few with some best youtube links I found. Do listen to them daily to keep anxiety at bay.
- Tilak Kamod: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3DIOtKnRJs
- Desh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3utGH37HzCk
- Yaman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kBuDppKJMQ
- Ragesree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4CogWM1Tis
- Jog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFvX7R_CHKk
UK based team of Neuroscientists studied the effect of some music tracks on anxiety and surprisingly they found positive results. The top track which was found to reduce anxiety by 65% was “Weightless” by Marconi Union. I have listed below, all tracks from the study. These tracks may induce sleep, hence please don’t listen while driving. Listen to them when you are in your bed prepped to doze off.
(I recommend the first 6 tracks from the below list. I found them very relaxing especially Strawberry Swing)
- Weightless by Marconi Union: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcOqJHEy7tI
- Strawberry Swing by Coldplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3pJZSTQqIg
- Mellomania by DJ Shah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcRXlM6edrM
- Canzonetta Sullária by Mozart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc3fmSSUwck
- Someone like you by Adele: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAc83CF8Ejk
- Watermark by Enya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO5tb20qQnA
- Please Don’t Go by Barcelona: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COqx-TCxrSk
- Electra by Airstream:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbHZ8VVhb94
- Pure Shores by All Saints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVNdTXEJv1A
- We Can Fly by Rue du Soleil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbzuesSeDmQ
A healthy and nourished body creates a healthy mind. The body and mind are interlinked. If your diet is balanced and you have fewer deficiencies, naturally your body becomes more equipped to deal with any stress, be it physical or mental. So it becomes very vital to take care of diet and nutrition.
An anxiety diet is composed of fruits, green leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates, proteins, essential fatty acids.
If our daily protein intake is low then we become deficient in essential amino acids which are important for the synthesis of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin. Hence, include protein in your diet as per the recommended intake. Link to my article on protein recommendations-https://nutrizest.in/how-much-protein-do-we-need-on-a-daily-basis/
Consume walnuts, almonds, avocado daily as they are the healthy fats required for normal functioning of the brain.
Chamomile tea is an effective natural source that reduces anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia. It works wonders for tension headache and migraine. In addition to this, it calms the stomach also. Most anxiety sufferers complain of Gastrointestinal disturbances like bloating, gas, constipation. Chamomile tea alleviates these symptoms. You will get the tea on Amazon, I recommend the following brand.
Avoid excessive intake of junk, oily, fried food, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, nicotine as they have a negative effect on mood & only aggravate the issue.
5. MINDFULNESS MEDITATION
As our body needs physical exercise to stay fit, our mind also needs exercise to increase focus, attention, and calming the monkey chattering in our brain.
Meditation is an exercise for the mind. It not only helps in reducing stress, worry, and anxiety but also strengthens our mind to face challenges. As we eat, sleep, exercise daily, we ought to do meditation as well. It is an integral part of our mundane activities.
While doing meditation, choose a time when you will not be disturbed, inform your family members beforehand, put your cellphone on silent mode for 10-15 minutes. Meditate daily at the same time.
Mindfulness Meditation: It simply means being aware of the present moment. In this meditation, all your senses are used to engage in the current moment. Most of us live in a mindless state and hence are prone to anxiety and worrying. Either we are living in the past or future or daydreaming or weaving imaginary thoughts, pictures in our minds. One thought leads to other and then something else which ultimately creates anxiety. Most of our problems are created by mindless thinking. Our aim is to train our mind to be in the present moment with mindfulness.
How to practice mindfulness:
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Feel the surface you are currently seated on.
- Take a look at your surroundings, be it anything, the ceiling fan in the room, door, chair, windows, anything that you see right in front of your eyes.
- Try to listen to any sounds in the surroundings like clock ticking, dogs barking, birds chirping.
- Now close your eyes and bring your attention to breathing. Don’t force anything. Just be aware of your breath.
- If any thought pops up in your mind, let it go without being judgemental and bring your attention back to the breath.
- Sit as long as you feel comfortable. Start slowly but practice daily.
Yoga is a union of mind and body. It helps in creating harmony between mind, body, and soul. It makes us more grounded and strengthens & stabilizes the mind. Hence, practicing yoga daily will help you deal with anxiety effectively.
Following are a few aasan which can help you and are very easy to perform. Follow the youtube links to learn how to perform.
- For Savasana, Supta baddha konasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AX4HYZLIFw&t=472s
These were our 6 tips to deal with anxiety. Include them in your life daily and you shall overcome anxiety over a period of time.
Lastly, take life easy, enjoy every moment, and be less judgmental towards yourself. Don’t let anxiety overpower your life. Life is a gift, use it wisely.