If you’ve ever felt your heartbeat suddenly beat faster, your palms sweat when you enter a room, or intrusive thoughts consistently enter your mind, you may have experienced anxiety. While it’s normal to feel an occasional sense of worry, it’s not normal for these feelings of anxiety to dominate your life.
When you experience anxiety, these feelings can arise without cause and not go away. It’s cause for concern when your anxiety interferes with your personal and professional life.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a persistent stress response to everyday activities. Your body is working in overdrive to respond to your environment. It concentrates blood in your brain and speeds up your breathing and heart rate.
With treatment, you have help in breaking free from overwhelming anxiety. The professionals at Bowman Medical Group can help address your anxiety and offer techniques to manage your daily activities.
What triggers anxiety?
People can have one or more triggers for their anxiety, or sometimes none at all, but some examples are:
- A stressful job
- Driving or traveling
- Withdrawal or side effects of certain medications
Sometimes anxiety can lead to an anxiety attack. The key is to understand what your triggers are and adopt a series of coping mechanisms. Daily, habitual practice of the techniques below can help control your anxiety:
Have a pre-planned ‘worry’ session
Anxiety is coupled with intrusive thoughts. Constantly worrying can wear on your immune system quickly. Have a pre-planned “worry” session where you reserve one hour a day at a specific time to worry. It may even help to write down your thoughts.
After your session is over, try to reduce the number of times you find yourself worrying. If those instances pop up, write them down and document how often you feel yourself in a problematic spell.
Practicing scheduled sessions is critical. Excessive “worry” sessions may deepen your feelings of anxiety.
Practice deep breathing
It sounds simple, right? There is a lot more to deep breathing than taking one breath, however.
First, let’s understand the two breathing types: diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing and thoracic (chest) breathing. When you feel anxious, your breathing pattern is rapid and shallow. It comes directly from the chest (diaphragmatic).
Chest breathing differs in that it is a response to a lack of oxygen in the brain. You may also feel dizziness or faint when this type of breathing is out of control.
To control your breathing, find a quiet place free of distractions, place your hand on your stomach and one on your heart. Take a deep breath in and practice slowly raising your hand with each breath. Observe whether your breath stems from your abdominal area or if you experience chest breathing.
Write down your thoughts in a journal
Taking time to write down your thoughts is a great way to reduce anxiety. When you feel obsessive, intrusive thoughts, grab a pen and write them down.
Studies show people who write about their experiences daily actually have a more robust immune system function too. It isn’t exactly clear why this is, but writing increases your CD4+ lymphocyte count, the key to your immune system.
If you find yourself needing to do this more regularly, take scheduled breaks, document your triggers, and take a few deep breaths. Your journal will come in handy if/when you seek professional help to address your anxiety.
Focus on what you can change and control
Anxiety is provoked by feelings of what you may think will happen, not what will happen. Focus on what you can control and your perception of what’s happening in front of you.
For example, you can control when you get out of bed and whether you’re late for work. For things you can’t control, challenge yourself to put those ideas to rest.
Engage in a creative activity
Is it true that creative minds worry less? Research suggests that a creative mind has less space to worry.
The theory of cognition states that being creative is the basis for human life. Now, finding a creative outlet isn’t always that easy.
Here’s an easy way to start: Become your playwright. As you experience racing thoughts or out-of-control emotions, write them down as if you were speaking from a character’s perspective. Channeling these emotions onto a fictitious character may help reduce your repetitive thoughts.
Bonus points: After you’ve written a “scene,” you’ll feel a rush of dopamine because you’ve completed a task. That’s an accomplishment! Creative minds challenge themselves to create constantly. Immerse your creativity into your coping mechanisms.
Take small steps to control your anxiety. Small steps will lead to daily changes in how you manage your anxiety.
To schedule an evaluation for yourself or a family member, call Bowman Medical Group today at 310-982-7003 or send the team a message here on the website any time.