Life can get stressful, and everyone occasionally experiences anxiety. However, people living with anxiety disorders struggle with excessive, ongoing or unrealistic worries that are out of proportion to their circumstances. If you don’t take steps to manage your anxiety, you could eventually reach a point where all your thoughts are irrationally pessimistic. How can you tell if you might have an anxiety disorder, and what are the best ways to get it under control?
Anxiety Disorders vs. Daily Stress
While you might use the terms “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably, the latter is a genuine, diagnosable mental health concern. Here are some ways to tell the difference.
- Physical symptoms: Though daily concerns about things like work, finances and health are primarily mental, anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms like muscle aches and weakness, fatigue, headaches and digestive problems.
- Catastrophic thinking: There’s a logical component to stress – your brain is responding to perceived threats. In contrast, anxiety disorders involve a constant, generalized fear that always makes you assume the worst. You feel tense or on edge, but you can’t pinpoint a specific cause, which can make problem-solving impossible.
- Impaired daily function: In contrast to minor everyday stressors like traffic and wondering what to make for dinner, anxiety disorders are severe enough to affect your quality of life. You may find yourself avoiding things you would usually enjoy because you feel too panicky. Anxiety can also impair your ability to complete your work and household responsibilities.
Ways to Control Your Anxiety
Use these 10 all-natural coping strategies to make your anxiety feel more manageable.
1. Work With a Therapist
A therapist can be a valuable partner on your journey toward improved mental wellness. As a neutral third party and a non-judgmental listener, a qualified counselor can recommend healthy ways to deal with anxiety, including breathing and grounding exercises. Some therapists specialize in techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, which focus on positivity and acceptance instead of negativity and avoidance.
Physical activity benefits every facet of your health and wellness, including your mental health. It provides a vital outlet for stress relief by releasing feel-good chemicals that create a natural rush.
3. Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care isn’t selfish, especially when you’re trying to get anxiety under control. Things like journaling, yoga and meditation let you focus on your mood and what you need to do to feel good.
4. Stick to a Daily Routine
Humans crave predictability. An effective routine can help reduce stress and give you more time for healthy activities like exercising and preparing home-cooked meals.
5. Prioritize Sleep Hygiene
Your sleep schedule and bedtime habits affect your mental sharpness, emotional well-being and energy levels. Consistently waking up and going to bed at the same times every day can regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, helping you get better rest.
6. Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Though alcohol has a reputation for helping people relax and unwind, it can make your anxiety symptoms worse by altering brain chemistry and function. People with anxiety disorders should also steer clear of caffeine, which can make you feel even more jittery and unsettled. If you love coffee or tea, switch to decaf alternatives.
7. Learn to Say No
If you are a people pleaser, you probably find your to-do list overwhelmed with tasks you wish you hadn’t committed to. It’s possible to turn others down without being rude or offensive. With practice, you can learn to say no without feeling guilty.
8. Go Outside
Vitamin D plays an essential role in many bodily functions, including mood regulation. Your body makes vitamin D by itself when exposed to only a few minutes of sunshine. The experience of being outdoors is also relaxing.
9. Try a New Hobby
Learning something new can occupy your restless thoughts and direct your focus away from your anxiety triggers.
10. Set Healthy Boundaries
When you set boundaries, you create clarity around how you expect people to behave around you. If you feel someone isn’t treating you respectfully, don’t be afraid to politely challenge them about it. Be direct, honest and calm. Your goal isn’t to be confrontational or make them feel guilty, but to speak your truth.
You Can Overcome Your Anxiety
Though anxiety can make you feel helpless, you are never alone. At Cumberland Heights, our compassionate and experienced team will guide you on a path to lifelong recovery with dual-diagnosis treatment and evidence-based therapies. As the first ASAM-certified treatment center in Tennessee, we take pride in helping people in our community receive the help they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Request help today to take the first step in getting your life back.