Coping with anxiety

Anxiety is a very complex condition. Despite being a “negative” emotion, it can be beneficial in small doses. Just like stress can push us to perform better and pain can teach us what poses a risk to our well-being, anxiety can make us take useful precautions or back off from a dangerous decision, rather than rushing into every challenge. Still, there are two sides to every coin. If anxiety gets out of control, it can overwhelm logical thought, undermine your performance at work, interfere with your day-to-day activities and impact your health.

When anxiety grows out of control, it can turn into an anxiety disorder. In this case, you may need help from your local psychologists in the West Island. Before consulting an expert or resorting to medication, however, you can try out the following methods for keeping your anxiety under control.

  1. Take deep breaths. Shallow, irregular breathing and holding your breath arecommon signs of anxiety.They feed into your anxiety and allow it to snowball. To counter this, try taking deep breaths, with a longer exhalation than inhalation. There is a good reason this type of breathing is used extensively in meditation: iteffectively forces your body to calm down.
  2. Exercise – particularly aerobic exercise such as jogging, swimming and cycling – releases endorphins, hormones that inhibit pain and cause a euphoric state that counteracts anxiety.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet. Many foods, such as oranges, spinach, turkey and salmon, can help control anxiety by reducing the levels of cortisol (an anxiety-causing hormone) generated by your body, or by stimulating the production of other hormones that cause a state of well-being. On the other hand, some foods and drinks (such as alcohol) can act as depressants and make your anxiety worse. Do your research and eat healthy.
  4. Challenge your anxiety.Experts recommend to “separate the real risks and dangers that a situation presents from those your imagination is making worse.” You need to challenge every negative thought and use your logic to filter out irrational thoughts presenting thingsas worse than they really are.
  5. Learn to accept your problems without rehashing them in your mind. What is done is done. If something bad has happened, there is no need to dwell on the past, or go crazy over your mistakes instead of learning from them. Metaphorically speaking, if you trip over a rock and fall, remember where the rock is so that you may avoid it in the future – don’t pick up the rock and beat yourself with it.
  6. Ask for help from your family and friends. People tend to be naturally reticent towards involving others in their own problems. However, a little comforting from someone close to you may be what you need to let go of your anxiety. If you choose to stay closed off, stewing in your own juices instead of letting go of the weight on your chest, your anxiety might only get worse.

If your anxiety persists through all your attempts to alleviate it, you may have a serious condition, like a generalized anxiety disorder, which could require professional treatment. A local psychologist can help you understand your condition, support you through trying timesand offer solutions for overcoming your anxiety.

Ellen Cone