We’ve all felt nervous before a big event like a wedding or a job interview, and even get anxious over small things like a test in school or having to give a speech in front of an audience. Our hearts pound, our hands sweat, and we may even feel dizzy or nauseous. These are universal and pretty normal. However, when these feelings of anxiety or panic become more than just a temporary feeling during times of stress and become chronic, then it could be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
Many times we experience anxiety, and we’re not sure what has brought it on. All we know is we become overwhelmed with dread, worry, anxiousness, and a feeling of unease and discomfort. When that happens, it’s a good idea to keep a journal nearby to write about how you’re feeling at the moment and what may have happened to precipitate it. There are even anxiety tracker apps, so you’ll have something at hand all the time since you can download them onto your smartphone.
You may begin to notice a pattern, like maybe it had been a while since you’d eaten or you hadn’t had the proper amount of sleep the night before. Or perhaps you were thinking ahead to a task you needed to complete that you worried you might fail at doing. You might notice that your anxiety attacks happen more frequently at a certain time of day or in a particular setting. Keeping a journal is helpful for you to recognize your triggers and can be very useful if you decide to see a therapist, too.
You cannot always control what triggers your anxiety, but there are things you can do that can reduce the number of times you become anxious or the severity of the accompanying symptoms.
Start by taking more frequent breaks during the day for things that require little thought or planning. Activities like a walk outside, listening to music, a warm bath, or even a short nap.
Think about how your diet can be causing your anxiety. Things like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar are common anxiety-inducing foods. Even ketchup, soy sauce, and processed foods can cause feelings of anxiousness and depression.
Monitor your sleep since fatigue and sleeplessness can cause the same symptoms as anxiety, such as jitteriness, lightheadedness or dizziness, difficulties focusing or concentrating, and muscle tension. There are sleep-tracking devices like Fitbit or the Oura Ring which monitor sleep and activity. Enter your results in your journal, too, as this, in combination with other factors, can be an anxiety trigger.
Active Measures to Reduce Anxiety
Finding a professional therapist who you feel comfortable speaking with can help you find ways to confront anxiety attacks when they happen since they can offer tools for how to cope with and overcome them.
Practice regular deep breathing exercises so that they are natural for you and are something you can do without having to think about it. Closing your eyes while you do your deep breathing will also help to calm you.
Mild exercises like stretching, walking, and gentle yoga poses can sometimes break the anxiety loop, especially when coupled with mindfulness practices along with deep breathing.
Have lavender at hand in candles, room sprays, or diffusers since it’s proven to have a calming effect.
Your Job Can be a Trigger
Your job can be causing you anxiety because of the stress it involves. If your job involves such a high level of responsibility that it leaves you with a poor work/life balance, you’re more likely to have chronic anxiety.
You may want to pursue a career that is more fulfilling and less stressful through online college courses. If you’ve always considered teaching a profession that you’d enjoy doing, then this may be a good option; an online bachelor’s education degree that can help you prepare for teaching licensure. Most of the courses are only 5 weeks long and begin 12 times a year, so you can work it into your schedule without adding more stress to your day.
Anxiety can be crippling and prevent you from getting the most out of your life. By confronting it with the right tools like counseling, exercise, tracking what triggers them, and making positive life changes like a new career, you can have the calmer, less stressful life that you were meant to live.
Dr. Sandoval of Root Cause Resolutions is a licensed clinical psychologist, former ISSA personal fitness trainer, and Integrative Nutrition Holistic Health Coach. Reach out to learn how together he can guide you into a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Guest article witten by Sheila Olson, FitSheila