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How To Control Anxiety, Try These Easy Ideas!

Struggling To Control Your Anxiety? You Are Not Alone~

The twenty-four hours before I board the plane are super uncomfortable. My palms are sweaty, my mind caught in a loop of replaying every plane crash story I have ever heard.

And the worst part? My digestive system is on fast forward, causing me to scoot to the bathroom every ten minutes as I wait at the flight gate.

Anxious and fatigued, my brain is stuck in a thought cycle: How can I control my anxiety? Why do I dislike flying? What is wrong with me?

Everyone else is cool about racing through the sky in a fancy tin can!

Anxiety Is A Human Experience

Anxiety is experienced by every person on this planet! Although geography and people groups are vastly different, we all have a personalized version of anxiety. Most of us experience symptoms that include racing thoughts, self-judgment, worry cycles and desperately wishing we could find an off switch for this terrible feeling of uncertainty.

Simple ideas to help you control your anxiety

Anxiety can have a damaging impact on our daily lives. It can keep us feeling unbalanced unless we learn how to have some control over our anxiety.

anx·i·e·ty

noun

  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

“he felt a surge of anxiety”

Source: Oxford Languages and Google-English

Truth Time: Anxiety Can Be Managed, But Not Completely Controlled

Is Anxiety A Feeling Or A Mental Health Disorder?

Anxiety can be both a feeling/symptom and a clinical mental health disorder. It can be a thought that starts in your brain and then moves into your body. Sweaty palms, upset stomach, and an inability to focus are all ways that anxiety might manifest in your physical body. For most of us, this is how experience anxiety.

After the anxiety stimulus, our body needs time to return to our relaxed emotional/physical state. The goal of managing anxiety is to discharge the energy that kept us on high alert. Using simple methods, we can return to a baseline of emotional regulation.

Anxiety as a medical disorder is a little different.

What defines an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem. Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues.

www.maycoclinic.org

Generally, anxiety disorders are best addressed by working with a knowledgeable mental health professional. Having a conversation with a specialist about anxiety treatment is a sign of strength, not weakness. Choosing to support your mental health is a powerful life changing decision.

Your Brain, A Highly Efficient Anxiety Producing Machine

Anxiety is a complex topic that we all experience in very personal ways. There is no singular, definitive source for the treatment of anxiety. My goal in this post is to briefly discuss anxiety and offer some potential solutions for low grade anxious behaviors.

If you are experiencing anxiety that stops you from enjoying your life or has caused you to consider any type of self-harm, please call a medical doctor immediately. There is help available for those who suffer from unrelenting, intense anxiety.

Ever Wonder If A Caveman Had To Manage His Anxiety?

This is a great video designed for adolescent kids to explain the anxiety process that takes place in our brain. It’s fairly short, full of colorful graphics and really explores the science behind anxiety.

Understanding the science behind anxiety is an important part of controlling anxiety.

Can I Really Control My Anxiety?

The short answer is – no. It is not fully possible for us to override our primitive warning system. It has been there since ancient times, and we need it in times of true danger. But it is possible for us to become more aware of how it works and methods to help manage our distress.

Anxiety exists in both our brain and in our body. What does that mean? Our thoughts create emotions, whether they are positive emotions or negative emotions. And sometimes our bodies act out those emotions. Think of little kids jumping for happiness when they see the big pile of Christmas presents.

Christmas gifts+ big positive emotions= happy jumping kiddos!!

It also works in reverse, negative emotions can activate energy in your body. Anxious thoughts activate the autonomic nervous system, resulting in heart racing, sweaty armpits and rapid breathing.

(Also see opening description of me before boarding a plane)

Simple Suggestions For Balancing Anxiety With Body Movement

Our thoughts (and primitive brain responses) can energize our bodies in both positive and negative ways. When I work with my clients around anxiety management, I will often suggest they take a quick walk or do some jumping jacks to help discharge the negative energy that has been activated. Moving your body produces endorphins, the feel-good hormone that helps balance your mood.

When I am waiting for a flight, I often walk around the airport to help discharge my emotional discomfort. Walking helps me manage my ‘fight or flight” response to the psychological distress that I am experiencing.

Outdoor exercise is one method to help control anxiety

You Got To Move It, Move It

Physical movement also helps the critical thinking parts of the brain come back online. When caught in an anxiety cycle, our higher thinking skills get pushed aside. Moving your body helps restore critical decision making skills.

The next time you get hit with a surge of anxiety, get up and take a brisk walk. Or go in the garage and slam a medicine ball into the ground until you feel your negative energy start to drain away. Add some grunting or yelling if it helps you feel connected to your emotions!

Instead Of Trying To Control My Anxiety, Try Thanking It

I know, it sounds a bit ludicrous when your brain is shrieking like an internal fire alarm, but try saying it out loud: Thank you, anxiety! Personally, I use this method to acknowledge my increasing anxiety and to remind myself that I can manage whatever is causing my distress. Your brain is wired to keep you safe in so many ways.

Think of all the dangers humankind has had to navigate to stay alive and find the next meal!

  • Predators
  • Poisonous foods
  • People who wanted to hurt you

Our Primitive Brain Doesn’t Know How To Relax In Our Modern World

In our modern world our brain is still functioning as a high-level alert system. So when anxiety shows up, try thanking it. It sounds bananas but yes, thank your anxiety!

  • Thank you anxiety, I did turn off the stove
  • Thank you anxiety, I am doing fine driving on the highway
  • Thank you anxiety, I have a plan if the weather turns dangerous.

Sometimes it is easier to honor the brain for its hard work, then to fight against our designed wiring. Take a moment and answer this question (writing it down will help you remember your response):

When has my anxiety kept me safe?

Whether it was a hunch, intuition or garden variety anxiety, we have all had moments when we followed our gut and avoided a big problem. Thank you, anxiety, sometimes you are a helpful part of my emotional world.

If your anxiety is problematic, reach out for help. I help my clients identify the origins of their anxiety, and together we create methods to manage their anxiety.

Controlling Anxiety Through Journaling

Journaling? Like a seventh grade girl? < Insert eye roll here!>

I get it, for some of us journaling sounds juvenile! We picture pink glittery hard cover journals and bright colored pens that have fake fruity scents. But hang with me on this method, it isn’t as cringy as it sounds, I promise!

Research shows that spending time identifying your anxiety triggers and processing them through the physical act of journaling (writing) helps release negative emotions. At minimum, the process of focused self-awareness will give you some insight into the thoughts that are buried under your daily routines.

Journaling These Questions Can Help You Control Anxiety

When we have heightened emotions, it can be difficult to identify the trigger and understand our responses. Your assignment is to sit down AFTER an anxious moment and spend some time thinking about what brought up those big emotions for you.

Trust me, if you ask yourself the question “why?” often enough, you will find your way to the core issues.

Try journaling as a way to control your anxiety.

Think of these questions like an Anxiety Management Starter Pack! Identifying your own worry cycles is the first step toward change. When we sit down and slow down, we give our bodies space to relax physically.

Being physically relaxed can be the first step in letting our emotions regulate, giving our brain permission to wander around and explore the questions we are considering.

5 Basic Questions To Help You Explore Your Anxiety

  • I feel most anxious during this time of day:
  • I know when my anxiety is getting worse because this happens:
  • Thinking about ____________ can send me into a worry cycle.
  • This is the weirdest thing that makes me anxious________________
  • This type of person tends to make me feel anxious:

Sometimes Our Anxiety Comes From Our Early Experiences

Yup, I am going to get all hippy dippy now, but trust me, this will be worth it. Psychology has proven that parts of our personality are formed at an early age in our childhood. We have all grown up in homes that had levels of dysfunction that impacts us into adulthood.

As a result, we often carry anxiety around situations that began in our younger years. Our parents were given the task of teaching us how to stay safe and how to behave in our families. Sometimes those messages did a good job of teaching us what we needed to know, but other times those messages made us feel confused and a little lost.

If we are willing to take a look back to some of our childhood history, we can often draw a recognizable map from the past fears to our present worry cycles.

4 Questions To Help You Understand How Your Anxiety Started

  • As a child, I felt most anxious when:
  • The way I stopped feeling anxious was when I would:
  • Sometimes my anxious thoughts remind me of my childhood. Describe please.
  • Sometimes I worry that my kids might have learned to be anxious as a result of my behavior. That makes me feel:

Am I Teaching My Kids To Be Anxious?

Yes, in a sense it is possible for anxiety can be taught to our children. Families can have behaviors that are passed down from older generations that encourage an anxious personality. Some family patterns tend to focus on fears and concerns, resulting in a child that views the world as a very dangerous, unstable place.

Anxiety Can Be A Learned Behavior

These families tend to be risk averse and slightly controlling, believing that the right behaviors and choices will protect them from bad situations. A parent that responds repeatedly with visible anxiety to uncomfortable situations will inadvertently train their child to hit the anxiety button when encountering new foreign situations.

Anxiety as a learned behavior is complex, but it can be addressed and minimized with behavior modification choices. Identifying family behavior patterns, including the positive reinforcement that occurred when the child displayed anxiety is a starting point for change.

Is Anxious Behavior Passed Down Through Family Genes?

I mean, didn’t we all have at least one family member who was labeled “a nervous wreck?” Anxiety traits exist on a spectrum, and each person responds uniquely to stimulus, both positive and negative. Don’t forget that factors outside of family genetics can influence the experiences of anxiety. Aunt Sally might have had an upsetting event in her childhood that contributes to her fear of crowds.

According to clinical research some mental health disorders can be inherited. One of the most common symptoms in many mental disorders include expressions of anxiety. Like many other genetic-based traits, it is possible to inherit a mental disorder, but that does not mean it is a certain outcome.

If you have concerns about your potential for genetic links and mental health disorders, please make sure to speak with your medical practitioner for guidance.

Conclusion

Straight up, anxiety sucks!

Whether we are navigating unwanted thoughts that seem to keep us in a cycle of worry or fighting to regulate our elevated heart rate, anxiety can impact our daily life. Although it’s normal for our brain to keep us safe, trying to control anxiety can be an exhausting experience.

Simple methods of exploring your thoughts and worry patterns can have a positive impact on your levels of anxiety. Using journal prompts designed to help you uncover your stress triggers can help identify the root of your anxious patterns.

Taking time to reflect upon your early experiences of anxiety may give you some clues to help you understand life time worry cycles. Learning to identify and intercept thoughts that fuel your anxiety is a helpful tool. Making time to move your body when anxiety is rising is one way to help release the negative energy that can cause distress.

Finally

Anxiety is a human experience. Our brains will always be reacting to our environments in an effort to keep us safe. Learning how to manage our thoughts is the first step to controlling our anxiety.

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