Anxiety: Don’t stress it!
Updated: Jan 6, 2019
As a psychologist I have been working with individuals suffering from anxiety for decades. This is a rewarding area to work in as therapy can make a positive difference for those suffering.
The basic definition of anxiety, according to Everyday Health,is an emotion of excessive concern, tension or unease that strikes in the absence of a compelling or immediate threat (https://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety/guide/).
In its most common form, anxiety is a basic reaction to everyday stress; one that is completely normal and—to a certain extent—even helpful in certain life situations. If, for example, you encounter a new social situation that makes you feel tense or ill at ease, then it may be this precise feeling that motivates you to exit the situation before any harm is done or danger presented.
And if you find yourself facing a tough deadline on a school or work project, then you might just find that a bit of anxiety motivates you to work both harder and faster until you can get the work done.
Yet what happens when anxiety becomes excessive or seemingly unreasonable? You may feel anxious for no good reason, or for a reason that might seem trivial or irrelevant to most people. And far from being helped by this emotion, you may feel that it hinders your thoughts and actions, detracting from your life performance if not immobilizing you on an emotional level.
Excessive, undue anxiety can equal an anxiety disorder; a psychological condition that indicates the presence of persistent, overwhelming, irrational, and perhaps even uncontrollable anxiety; a feeling that may hinder your ability to lead a normal and productive life.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America asserts that anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder across the U.S.; affecting nearly 40 million people in the United States every year (https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety).
So how can a patient struggling with anxiety disorder cope with, alleviate and hopefully resolve their condition? The answer to this question all and always relies on the individual patient, and the severity of their anxiety disorder. The following suggestions are advocated by a number of therapists, along with the Mayo Clinic.
In mild cases of anxiety, home-based and self-administered treatment options may be effective. People who get enough sleep and exercise regularly (for many people, a long walk alone can be incredibly calming, as it can remove you from a triggering situation and allow you to commune with nature), and who practice relaxing, centering, and totally invigorating practices such as yoga and meditation, can do much to relieve their own anxiety—and, furthermore, to prevent future anxious episodes.
The same is true of those who practice visualization, deep breathing and focus/centralizing exercises, who devote at least part of each day to pursuing hobbies they enjoy, who spend quality time with friends and family members with whom they can discuss their feelings and have fun with in equal measure, who learn the value of humor and calmness in dealing with life’s problems, etc. And a healthy, well-balanced diet always helps, as does a regimen of clean living.
If these methods prove ineffective over the long run, then the anxiety patient may wish to seek professional therapy; engaging the services of a therapist who can listen to their concerns and suggest constructive ways to deal with these situations and the feelings of anxiety that arise from them.
A professional therapist, unlike a well-meaning friend, tends to show more patience and understanding toward a person dealing with persistent anxiety (never telling them to “Get over it” or “Get past it”); and can recommend coping mechanisms that they have learned through years of professional training.
Medicinal treatments are also available to help patients deal with anxiety; but those should be prescribed and recommended only by licensed medical physicians, and should be employed sparingly.
Although common and sometimes unavoidable, anxiety disorders need not rule or consume the life of a busy, healthy individual. For more information about anxiety, please contact Dr. Claire Albright at (949) 454-0996 at http://DrCAlbright.com