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4 Tips on Dealing with Anxiety Disorder

By 9:43 PM , , , , , , , , , ,

Dealing with anxiety disorder, specifically Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) & social anxiety, has been a struggle I've known for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was something only I faced, what with everyone else seeming as if they had their lives together. It wasn't until I found out that anxiety disorders affected a substantial portion of the population (18% of the US population for people 18 years old & above to be exact) that I felt more curious and less hopeless about anxiety.

Everyone experiences anxiety. Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressor, and it is generally considered a good thing in select circumstances like when you're finishing a deadline, studying for an exam or becoming vigilant in a potentially life-threatening situation. It stops becoming normal, however, when anxiety symptoms start popping up without a stressor you can pinpoint, when it impairs your quality of life and when the intensity and duration of your anxious symptoms is disproportionate to an actual stressor you have.

It's easy to get swept into your own world when you're feeling anxious but I reiterate, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Knowing that fact has helped me deal with the anxiety/panic-attacks-for-absolutely-no-reason-at-all, avoiding-people-and-situations-because-the-thought-anything-going-wrong-freaked-me-out-too-much, and feeling like I'm going to die for making a simple mistake. I've also utilized the following four tips that made dealing with anxiety disorder that much better:
  1. Meditate regularly - If I'm being honest, I initially thought meditation was just ridiculous mumbo jumbo (except it's actually backed by numerous scientific studies like this, this and this). It also seemed intimidating for someone like me whose thoughts get distracted by my own thoughts. But once I got started, I was hooked. The difference it made was staggering! I am currently using the app called Breathe to meditate on a regular basis. It helped me learn how to meditate properly and if you're just dipping your toes in the meditation water, you'll definitely love it.
  2. Take care of your body - Keep up a regular exercise regimen. Avoid or minimize junk food, alcohol and caffeine like the plague. Make sure to have a sound and restful sleep daily. A person who is in their prime physical health is more difficult to emotionally destabilize than someone who's hungry, lethargic and sleep-deprived. Not only will your body thank you, your mind and soul will too.
  3. Surround yourself with the right people - Cutting toxic people loose has been one of the most important things I've done in my entire life. Now that I have been blessed with amazing and extremely loving people, the level of satisfaction in my life is 100% better than it has ever been before. Remember, the right people will know when to lift you up, push you to try harder and call you out on your bullshit. They're going to mess up sometimes, but that's what honest communication is for. ;)
  4. You can't control your feelings. You can only control how YOU react to them. If there's one thing I consider to be an essential lesson I learned growing up, it is that feelings aren't something you can control. If you were anything like me, trying to control the overwhelming feelings of anxiety only ended up working against me, in that it only served to make me even more anxious. I've learned to merely acknowledge my feelings without judging it or attempting to curb it. Not only has it helped me become more self-aware, it has also helped me become more in tune of my feelings, easily pinpointing what they are and reacting appropriately.
Quick note: These tips are not meant to substitute for anxiolytics. If your psychologist feels that pharmaceutical interventions are necessary for your case, please follow their recommendations.

Don't get me wrong, dealing with anxiety is still a semi-regular issue for me. I have days that could go better, and there are days where everything feels like it's going down the gutter. But the hope of a better, less anxious Jane in the future propels me forward with my chin up, a smile on my lips and my daily mantra replaying on my mind "Appreciate where you are. You are working towards being the best person you can be". And really, what else could I ask for?

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