Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mental Health Series - Top Five Healthy/Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Anxiety

The Five Unhealthy and Five Best Ways to Cope With Anxiety

Anxiety is something we’ve all probably experienced in our life. We’ve lived through a life-threatening moment where our heart races or we’ve felt anxious about a test or before a hospital procedure.  We may have had to cope with an emergency. This is normal anxiety and it goes away once the situation does.

However, for those who suffer from anxiety, symptoms can continue while the situation doesn’t. These symptoms can frighten a person into an ongoing cycle of worry and anxiety that perpetuates more symptoms.



Anxiety affects us in four distinct ways:

  • ·      How we feel
  • ·      How our body works
  • ·      How we think
  • ·      How we behave


How We Feel?
1      Are you anxious? Nervous? Worried? Frightened
  Do you feel like something horrible is going to happen?
  Are you tense, stressed? Uptight? On edge? Unsettled?
  Do you feel unreal? Strange? Woozy? Detached?
  Are you panicky?

How Our Body Works?
1     1.     Heart pounds, races, skips a beat?
2.     Chest feels tight or painful?
3.     Tingling or numbness in toes or fingers?
4.     Stomach churning or butterflies?
5.     Having to use toilet?
6.     Jumpy or restless?
7.     Tense muscles?
8.     Body aching?
9.     Sweating?
10. Breathing changes?
11. Dizzy, light-headed?

How We Think?
1    1.     Constant Worrying?
2.     Can’t Concentrate?
3.     Thoughts Racing?
4.     Mind jumping from one thing to another?
5.     Imagining the worse and constantly thinking about it?

How We Behave?
1    1.     Pace Up and Down
2.     Start jobs and not finish
3.     Can’t sit and relax
4.     On the go all the tie
5.     Talking quickly or more than usual
6.     Snappy and irritable behavior
7.     Drinking alcohol more
8.     Smoking more
9.     Eating more or less
10. Avoiding fearful situations

Anxiety is an illness that cannot be cured. But with careful management, it can be reduced and treated. You must learn to work on your anxiety by:

·      Understanding your anxiety better
·      Reducing the physical symptoms
·      Altering your thoughts related to anxiety
·      Changing your behaviors related to anxiety

If you do not do these things, the following can occur if you tend to treat your anxiety by following the advice of the worst ways to cope with your anxiety. If you see yourself in any of these situations, please contact a mental health professional or your primary care physician and seek medical attention immediately.


Top Five Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Anxiety

Unhealthy Thinking– Worry, Obsessive thinking, Rumination – all of these can trap your mind in an endless loop and spiral into more advanced mood disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and other psychological conditions.  Obsessive thinking exaggerates and extends upsetting feelings. Rumination focuses on future outcomes of events that haven’t occurred or gives the person something to worry about by having an uncontrollable preoccupation of the past.

Unhealthy Eating
Stress and anxiety increases your appetite along with triggering the release of a number of chemicals in the brain including adrenaline and cortisol. These make you feel alert to help you handle any threat and make you ready for action. However, whenever you’re overly stimulated with anxiety, your body begins to crave comfort foods for biological and psychological reasons. Your body craves foods associated with memories from childhood and comfort.



Unhealthy Drinking/Drugs/Illicit (Illegal) Activities
One way to avoid your anxiety is to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or illegal drugs, or other types of illicit activity such as self-harm, like cutting. These activities do not reduce the anxiety, replace the anxiety, or remove the anxiety. They only delay or magnify the symptoms.

Unhealthy Sleeping
One way the body deals with an anxiety attack is to shut down all bodily functions, and sleep. You may think that if you sleep away your anxiety, you will awaken with the anxiety gone and you can then go on with your life. It doesn’t work that way. You’ll only have slept away most of your days and nights and not accomplished anything but worry your family and friends, and possibly lost your job or gotten behind on paying your bills. The anxiety will still be there.

Unhealthy Withdrawal from Social Functions/Friends/Family
When you withdraw from friends, you may begin watching too much television, or do too much of one activity alone. This is not healthy for you. You cannot avoid your issues my avoiding your friends and family. 


Top Five Best Ways to Cope with Anxiety

Physical/Relaxation Exercise
Try some physical exercise to get the heart beating at a regular beat that stretches your muscles, but also try some relaxation methods such  as aerobics, walking, yoga, or massage as well.  By keeping up with healthy exercise, you will automatically assume a healthy sleep cycle.

Social Activities
Keep up with activities in your age group or neighborhood. Go to a senior center if need be, or other group in your appropriate age group. Find out what activities are taking place and join. Talk to your family and friends and form a regular weekly game night. Do whatever makes you happy and joyful.

Maintain a Support System
Reach out and connect with others who you trust and can stay in contact with on a regular basis. Make sure that you include your mental health physician or therapist, your primary doctor, a neighbor, your life partner or closest friend, and anyone else you can trust. These are people who you will be able to go to if you ever need to when an anxiety episode strikes or if you feel the need to use emergency services someone there can call one of these people for you.

Prayer/Meditation
If it so moves you, join a local church of your affiliation. There are many functions among the church family. You can always ask for prayer or find someone to pray with you. Listening to self-guided hypnosis or meditation is another way to help you relax and cope with your anxiety.

Healthy Eating
Maintain a healthy balanced diet, as much as possible. Eat lean protein, green vegetables and drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and avoid sugar and processed foods.

When you become aware of how you handle anxiety, you make healthier choices. Studies suggest that highlighting social ties can deliver certain health benefits.

Remember, you are only one defining decision from a totally different life.

image courtesy of incredible joy.com 


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