Your knee jerk reaction may be to say, “How can anxiety ever be a friend”. But wait a just one pretty little minute! Sometimes a healthy dose of anxiety is actually a good thing because it pushes us to perform to the best of our abilities. How you internalize and manage life’s anticipated, or even unexpected, stressors helps predict whether or not anxiety negatively impacts your mind, body or spirit.
As a society, we have a tendency to allow anxiety cues to persevere until they begin to affect our mental, emotional or physical health. The option to take the necessary time out of our lives, to reconnect with ourselves, to review our life goals or to take a step back and notice the circus that our life may have become has also become somewhat obsolete. In part, I blame social media, but that’s for another blog!
So, how can you begin managing your anxiety? Well, you can start by making time to recognize your anxiety levels! If your thoughts seem unduly negative, challenge them with more realistic thoughts. Challenging negative thinking via alternative perspectives help us to avoid falling into the trap of catastrophizing and becoming overwhelmed. Empowering yourself by challenging negative thoughts reduces the possibility that you will feel helpless in the face of life stress. Empowerment corresponds with hopefulness.
Practicing breathing techniques, journaling, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, developing a meditative or yoga practice, or even something as simple as going for a walk on your own (or with your dog) will also help you manage undue stress and anxiety symptoms. These types of activities promote a sense of calm and may allow for a different perspective to emerge from within (if you listen long enough!).
If you’ve been avoiding something because you are afraid of the consequences or how unpredictable the event is, then find a way to work through it safely. Stop avoiding it. The longer you put it off, the worse and more frightening it may seem.
If anxiety persists then you might be dealing with something more serious. At times, medication may be prescribed to allow people to manage anxiety while addressing their issues. That said, medication might not necessarily be the long-term solution to managing stress. Learning to cope with stress and working through life’s challenges in your own unique and healthy way is the best medicine to the stomach ache causing, sweat inducing, heart-racing thing we call anxiety.