Millions of people throughout the United States alone are dealing with anxiety. Unfortunately, that number is on the rise every single year. It’s one of the most common mental health concerns that can impact children and adults equally.
Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that encompasses many different subsets. It includes Generalized Anxiety Disorder(GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD.)
Anxiety in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It can have benefits such as alerting us to real danger, helping us solve problems, and motivating us to meet our goals. However, when anxiety becomes chronic it can have many damaging effects on our mental and physical health.
To understand anxiety better, we’ll talk about the origins of anxiety and how you can deal with it.
What Causes Anxiety?
We’ll start with the basic cause. Ancient civilizations developed anxiety as a way to keep them alive. In life-or-death situations, they could choose to stay and fight through the danger. Or, they could choose to flee. This is now known as the fight or flight response. Pretty useful back then, as you can imagine.
However, this response is not exactly needed in modern civilization. But, our bodies have remembered this response. At the core, it is now a biological response. There are also other contributing factors that can cause anxiety. Some of these include:
- Medical conditions or chronic pain
- Family history of mental health issues
- Past or current substance abuse
- Chronic stress from unstable home environments
- Stress from work
- Abuse of any kind
- Stress from major life events such as job loss, divorce, or a death
Anxiety, in some cases, can be useful. It helps to motivate us and reach our goals. But too much of it can be detrimental to mental health. Especially when it is prolonged over time.
How To Deal With Anxiety
Coping with anxiety on a daily basis is challenging. When our worries and fears become so debilitating, anxiety takes over and controls us.
Thankfully, there are ways to take this control back. Keep in mind, that it may be a trial and error process of finding what works for each individual person. The following list is generally what we find to be most useful in treating anxiety. And, even better, any of these methods can be used in combination.
Self-care may seem like a buzzword and a passing trend at first. However, self-care goes far beyond taking a bubble bath. Some very basics of self-care that is good for any human are:
- Make a plan to exercise, even if it’s only for a short walk
- Fuel your body with good nutrition through protein, fruits, and vegetables
- Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol that you drink
- Keep your social circles to people who are positive and uplift you
When anxiety ramps up, it causes us to have excessive worries about the future. Which, inevitably sends someone into a spiraling rabbit hole they can’t get out of.
There are a variety of ways to distract your mind and ground yourself to the present moment. Some of these techniques include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Identifying 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, and 1 thing you can taste