It’s just past midnight and you find yourself wide awake at night; restless, worried and looking at the clock. There’s a long list of chores to be done at home, but you still need to pick up dinner, get the kids to practice and return a phone call. Your boss informs you several people have called in sick today and now you have the responsibility of three people. – The majority of us have all been there; experiencing the symptoms of anxiety in our own way. But how do you cope with anxiety when it creeps up on you unexpectedly?
Because anxiety develops and presents itself in various ways for everyone, being mindful of its symptoms is the first step to combating anxiety and feelings of stress. Symptoms include excessive worry, sleep problems, irrational fears, muscle tension, chronic indigestion, self-consciousness, panic, flashbacks, compulsive behaviors, excessive sweating and increased heart rate. When you find yourself trying to manage any level of anxiety, it is a good idea to remind yourself of what you can actually change (what’s in your control) and accepting the rest (what’s out of your control).
Also, it can be helpful to take a personal time-out. Having time for personal reflection such as listening to music, meditating and practicing your own relaxation techniques (taking deep breaths, counting slowly to 10) can provide you with an opportunity to take a step back and look at your stress from a different perspective. Eating right and getting enough sleep are easy steps to reduce your anxiety. It may seem easier said than done, but it’s important to eat well-balanced nutritional meals which help boost your energy, limit your amount of alcohol and caffeine and get plenty of rest to revitalize your mind. In addition to eating healthy meals and sleeping more, you should explore different options of daily exercise. Sometimes your body needs to release energy that builds inside you. Excess energy can increase your levels of anxiety and make your symptoms of stress feel much worse.
Sometimes you just have to accept that your best is not always going to be perfect. Challenge yourself to be proud of what you have accomplished and release your desire for perfection. Humor is also a great way to reduce tension. Give yourself a break and try to use laughter as a form of release. While choosing to have a positive attitude can be difficult, it can replace negative thoughts and cognitions you may be experiencing. Finally, if your levels of anxiety allow, try to get involved more. Being active in your community by volunteering or joining clubs can help you build a positive social network and provide you an outlet from your anxiety and stress.
While there are many other coping strategies to reduce tension, anxiety and stress, these are a few ideas that are more basic. – Try and discover what works best for you. In order to reduce undesirable anxiety, you have to learn what your triggers are and talk to someone if your feelings become unmanageable. Remember you are not alone and almost everyone has experienced anxiety in some form another. Hang in there and use those coping skills!