Everyone experiences anxiety sometimes. Things like a job interview, an exam, relationship issue, financial difficulties, and being overwhelmed at work can cause heightened anxiety. In these situations anxiety is typical; expected.
Anxiety can also have some beneficial, adaptive effects – it can help us deal with real danger, get things accomplished, or perform our best. When we experience anxiety our body’s flight/flight/freeze response is triggered, which prepares our body to defend itself.
However, sometimes fight/flight/freeze happens in response to a situation that feels dangerous, but in reality is not. This can lead to overwhelming feelings that cause us to avoid certain situations or places. Many people who experience anxiety struggle with symptomology including sleeping too much or too little, changes in eating patterns, lack of focus and concentration, absenteeism from work or school, stomach aches, headaches, and sometimes panic attacks . Anxiety does not only affect us physically, but also affects what we think and what we do. For example, if we see a dog and our physical reaction is sweating, fast beating heart, nauseousness, and trembling, we then feel afraid and run away from the dog. Here’s a visual depiction:
One in ten adults suffer from anxiety problems, and sometimes this anxiety is significant enough to impact their ability to function on a day-to-day basis. There are several things you can try to help with anxiety. Here are a couple:
Belly Breathing Exercise
- 1. Place one hand just above your belt line, and the other on your chest, right over the breastbone.
- Open your mouth and gently sigh, as if someone had just told you something really annoying. As you do, let your shoulders and the muscles of your upper body relax, down, with the exhale. The point of the sigh is not to completely empty your lungs. It’s just to relax the muscles of your upper body.
- 2. Close your mouth and pause for a few seconds.
- 3. Keep your mouth closed and inhale slowly through your nose by pushing your stomach out.
- 4. When you’ve inhaled as much air as you can comfortably (without throwing your upper body into it), just stop. You’re finished with that inhale.
- 5. Pause for several seconds.
- 6. Open your mouth. Exhale through your mouth by pulling your belly in.
- 7. Pause.
- 8. Continue with Steps 4-7.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Following the order below flex your muscles, hold, then release. Go through each muscle group one at a time.
If you would like to talk about other ways to deal with anxiety, strategies you can use, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques, please contact me.