From mild worries to extreme panic attacks, the severity of anxiety can run the gamut. If you fall anywhere on this spectrum, know that you aren’t alone. Anxiety troubles are the most common of any mental health struggles; in fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 40 million adults in the United States have suffered from anxiety.
Whether your anxiety is predisposed, stems from a traumatic event, or is the result of a medical disorder, it’s important to know the causes of your anxiety as well as what triggers it.
How to recognize your triggers
1. Acknowledge your biggest stressors
How in tune with yourself are you? Do you know which situations cause you the most stress? Maybe it’s work, romantic relationships, friendships, social engagements, or even a fear of being alone. Once you’re aware of what causes you the most anxiety, you can lessen it by practicing stress management techniques that are appropriate for each situation.
2. Observe your current lifestyle
Heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid problems are just a few physical conditions that might determine whether you are prone to anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s important to be knowledgeable about your physical state. For example, if you have heart problems, you may notice that your anxiety worsens when you consume caffeine. By understanding how your body reacts to this substance, you can control it in future situations.
3. Reflect on your past
Many people value leaving the past in the past. While it’s critical not to dwell on or live in the past, it’s also crucial not to pretend like it didn’t happen. Trauma is a very common cause of anxiety; it’s something that your anxiety feeds off of when ignored. By acknowledging this fact, you can take the proper steps to combat anxiety when it arises due to a trauma-related scenario.
How to manage your anxiety
Anxiety becomes much more manageable after you’ve identified its causes and are able to recognize its triggers. The following steps are crucial in order to appropriately treat your anxiety:
1. Seek help from a mental health professional
As mentioned earlier, 40 million U.S. adults struggle with anxiety (that’s 18% of the American population!) Even in the year 2017, though, there are still people who stigmatize mental health and/or the concept of therapy. The world is difficult to navigate on your own… don’t let a negative and inaccurate stigma prevent you from getting the help that you need.
2. Find positive coping skills that work for you
Defined as “any characteristic or behavioral pattern that enhances a person’s adaptation,” coping skills are critical in managing anxiety. Both distraction activities (such as hanging out with friends) and mindfulness activities (quietly bringing yourself to the present) can benefit those struggling with anxiety. Reading, yoga, meditation, journaling, and spending time with your friends and family are all examples of positive coping skills. It’s also important to exhibit self-care. Simple daily acts including exercising, maintaining a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep can all help in upholding a healthier lifestyle.
3. Maintain a support system
As humans, we were not designed to go through life on our own. You spend time with your friends and family doing the “fun stuff”: going on vacations, to the movies, and out to dinner, but authentic relationships form through the good and the bad. You will not be burdening your friends by discussing your anxiety troubles with them; in fact, you’ll probably be surprised by how willing they are to listen and help you in your times of need.
While the above is a list of a few ways to manage your anxiety, you’ll be able to develop many more strategies through the process of counseling. Contact me today to set up an appointment!