Techniques for living with Anxiety

Anxiety and stress are part of normal everyday life. Stress is a physical and emotional response to what life throws at us. We are presently living in very challenging times with many experiencing powerlessness and hopelessness not knowing what is going to happen from one day to the next. Living with uncertainty can be particularly problematic and can cause much anxiety and stress. Your quality of life should not deteriorate due to stress.

While feelings of anxiety are normal in stressful situations, feelings of anxiety that persist for long periods of time may develop into anxiety disorders. Stress can trigger panic attacks, heart disease, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, phobias and numerous other illnesses.

Each of us reacts differently to anxiety and stress. Physical and mental health go hand in hand. For this reason everyone can benefit from a nutritious balanced diet, physical exercise which releases endorphins and raises your mood, periods of relaxation built into your day and adequate sleep. You can improve your mental health and your capacity to deal with anxiety and stress by maintaining your physical health and achieving balance in your life.

The key to reducing your anxiety and stress with immediate effect is deep breathing. Breathing exercises are fast acting techniques to help you feel better quickly. It is important to remember to breathe from your diaphragm.

Take deep breaths in through your nose, concentrating on the air going into your lungs to the count of four.

Notice your breath going deep down into your tummy and feel your tummy expanding, holding your breath to the count of four.

Exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of four. Feel your tummy relax as you exhale.
Concentrate on your breathing and you will be surprised at how fast and effective this coping strategy is. Practice deep breathing regularly and it will become an automatic response to stressful situations when they arise.

It is possible to learn new strategies to help you cope with anxiety that suit you r personality and match your strengths and interests. Spend some quiet time alone, taking a bath, walking, listening to music, baking, drawing, reading, singing, meditating, gardening or doing any other activity that takes your fancy. Feeling stressed or anxious is not an excuse for stopping doing the things you normally enjoy. You need to pursue enjoyable activities now, more than ever.

Many reap the benefits of easing stress by practicing Yoga, and Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis. Others find great solace from their religious community, while others promote their well being by spending time in natural surroundings. Spending quality time with loved ones can also be very relaxing and beneficial.

Focus on the positives in your life and make a gratitude list for the people, pets and things you value and enjoy. Talk to someone about your problems. A problem shared is a problem halved. Join support groups or feel good about yourself by offering to help others. If you are feeling over-burdened, learn to say NO. Take up a new hobby. Journaling, or writing your thoughts and feelings on paper can also be very helpful during stressful times.

About the author: 

Dr. Phil Robert is a psychotherapist, counsellor and author from Dublin. She is in private practice in Cabinteely and gives workshops on mental health issues. Phil has co-authored and published affordable, easy to follow guides to empower people to meet their challenges and take control of their own lives.

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