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What is Anxiety? Plus, 4 Steps for Managing It!

Do you ever notice that your heart starts beating faster in response to a stressful situation? Or that your palms get sweaty and you feel fearful when confronted with an overwhelming or important task? That’s anxiety—your body’s natural response to a perceived threat. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage these disruptive symptoms and prevent anxiety from negatively impacting your life. Before we get into those tips, let’s go over what exactly anxiety is.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. As humans, we often worry about things that are important to us, such as finances, health, work, and family. Anxiety in small doses can be helpful, as it can help you pay attention, make good decisions, and take action. However, sometimes anxiety can become excessive and start to get in the way of your everyday life.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Intense feelings of apprehension, nervousness, worry, and fear

  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom

  • Increased heart rate

  • Rapid breathing

  • Trembling

  • Feeling weak or tired

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Disrupted sleep

  • Digestive upset

Tips for managing your anxiety The severity of anxiety can vary greatly from person to person. Some only experience it sporadically, while others experience near-constant anxiety. Regardless of how you experience it, here are some tips to help you calm your body and soothe your worried mind.

1. Practice focused, deep breathing

When you experience anxiety, stop what you’re doing and take several long, deep breaths. Deep breathing has been shown to be a powerful relaxation technique that can help ease tension and bring your attention back to the present moment. When you’re anxious, your breathing naturally speeds up as a result of the fight-or-flight response. By consciously slowing down your breath, you’re sending a signal to your brain that you’re not in danger—that everything is A-OK. In turn, your anxiety symptoms will naturally decrease.

2. Determine what’s bothering you

In order to get to the root of your anxiety, you need to figure out what’s causing you to worry and feel unsafe. Is it your job? Spouse? Kids? Your health? To get to the bottom of your anxiety, spend some time exploring your thoughts and feelings. Some ways to do this include free writing in a journal, talking to a trusted friend or family member, or seeking therapy. As you uncover the issues that are causing you anxiety, you can work to change the things that you do have control over and accept the things that you don’t have control over. 3. Focus on something else

Sometimes, it can be most helpful to redirect your attention to things that are less anxiety-provoking. This could include doing chores around your house, watching a movie, doing a creative activity, writing out a gratitude list, engaging in physical exercise, meditating, or reading a good book, just to name a few options.

4. Keep your mind and body healthy Managing anxiety requires a holistic approach. That means that it’s important to take care of your whole self—mind, body, and soul. Prioritize self-care by exercising regularly, eating healthy, balanced meals, getting enough sleep, reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine, limiting time spent on social media or watching the news, staying connected to those you care about, and making time for relaxation. Collectively, these activities will support the health and balance of your body and mind, potentially leading to a reduction in anxiety.

The bottom line

Anxiety can be very overwhelming, but by implementing the above tips, your symptoms are likely to improve. As with any health issue, it’s best to work with a healthcare professional who can guide you on your journey back to balance.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of mental healthcare, wellness and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for a relationship with a licensed mental health practitioner. Always seek the advice of your therapist, physician or other licensed mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.



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