Dealing With Anxiety: Self Help And Beyond

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Although anxiety is often necessary for survival, it can also act as a harmful force in almost anyone’s life.

What is anxiety? It is our body’s reaction to stress in a situation our mind believes to be so dangerous as to require an immediate physical response. In the old days, the reaction of anxiety had a clear function: when our ancestors encountered dangerous predators, anxiety and fright would flood their bodies with adrenaline. As a result, we were able to act fast, run fast, cease to fear pain, and successfully avoid danger. Another name for this reaction is the fight-or-flight response.

Even today, the fight-or-flight response is useful in many situations. It can help us avoid traffic accidents when we are driving and see an oncoming car. It helps soldiers survive in wars (although, an extreme experience during war causes subsequent anxiety-related trauma, known as post-traumatic stress disorder). It can also help us stay up extra late to study for exams.

However, the fight-or-flight response loses its utility when it is activated without an immediate danger that needs to be faced. This is what happens when we find ourselves “sick with worry.” Our minds fixate upon a some worrisome idea and flood our bodies with adrenaline. However, in this case, all that extra energy has no immediate physical outlet. We get stressed out about our finances, or about what our children our doing, when there is nothing that we can do except wait and hope for the best. However, our racing hearts and rapid breaths tell our mind that there’s real, immediate danger. In this way, the anxiety escalates and can become self-perpetuating, persisting long after its source is gone, finding ever new reasons to exist (e.g. you stop worrying about the kids and start worrying about the mortgage).

Generalised anxiety disorder is the name for a mental condition in which people are excessively prone to this kind of fruitless worry. There is no real cure for generalised anxiety disorder. However, its symptoms–constant, fruitless worry–can be eased substantially via a number of common sense and psychotherapeutic methods.

What sorts of common sense actions can help stem needless anxiety? Self help methods for dealing with anxiety include relaxation and breathing techniques, as well as physical exercise. For certain common fears, such as money, it often It often helps to take concrete steps to address the source of the fear (e.g. take a course in financial planning; keep careful accounts). When addressing one’s fears, it’s important not to go overboard. If you’ve done everything you could do to address a problem and you still feel anxious, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques may be in order.

Some chronic worriers find outlets in favourite activities, such as painting, playing music, or reading certain books. These activities can help almost anyone escape from their fears. However, if these methods don’t help to alleviate your chronic, severe anxiety, visit a therapist.

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