Did you know anxiety plagues 40 million American adults? That’s 18% of the adult population! Needless to say, if you struggle with any kind of anxiety disorder, you’re not alone.
Anxiety is an all-encompassing term that includes several kinds of anxiety disorders. General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common today, but others include: social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I recommend working with a healthcare professional to diagnose and treat any kind of anxiety disorder.
Causes of Anxiety
There are many causes and triggers of anxiety, including environmental and physiological. The most common causes of anxiety disorder are:
- Imbalanced hormones
- Lack of sleep
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Trauma or abuse
- Adverse childhood events (ACE)
- Chronic stress
It’s important to understand and address the root cause of anxiety to achieve long-term relief and healing. Work with your doctor to uncover the cause of your anxiety.
Health Impacts of Anxiety
Unfortunately, the impacts of anxiety can be seen in mental and physical health. In fact, over 50% of those with anxiety also suffer from depression. In addition, chronic anxiety can negatively alter digestion, heart function, immunity, and more.
How to Effectively Cope With Anxiety
The most common approach to managing anxiety is the use of medication, like SSRIs, SRNIs, or antidepressants. However, there are many holistic ways to approach anxiety management, including:
1. Establish a Support System
A strong community and support system works wonders for mental health. Never be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Or, consider working with a therapist or counselor. Psychologytoday.com is a great resource for finding local, in-network mental health practitioners. Bonus: pet cuddles are an enjoyable and effective anxiety treatment!
2. Implement Anxiety Tools
It’s important to have a tool belt full of anxiety tools for whenever you feel an anxiety attack coming on. Some of the most effective tools to combat anxiety include: deep breathing exercises, grounding, or self-soothing (ie. taking a bath, drinking warm tea, or watching funny videos). Additionally, you can practice utilizing your 5 senses by focusing on breathing and finding: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
3. Practice Gratitude Journaling
Expressing a heart of gratitude is a powerful act. To help you do so, practice writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for every single day. I prefer to do this in the morning to kick start my day with a dose of positivity. The Five Minute Journal is one of my favs!
4. Adjust Lifestyle Habits
If you experience anxiety on a regular basis, it’s wise to evaluate your lifestyle habits. Take a good look at your day-to-day life patterns and habits. Then, ask yourself the following:
- Who are you surrounding yourself with? Do they encourage you to feel good about yourself? Do they lift you up and support you?
- Are you eating healthy, well-balanced meals and drinking enough water?
- If you drink alcohol or caffeine, how do you feel afterwards?
- Are you giving your body enough rest? How many hours of sleep do get per night?
- Does your job make you feel stressed, unhappy, or overwhelmed on a daily or weekly basis?
While anxiety can be a crippling and debilitating illness, there’s no shame in it. The best plan of action is to acknowledge it’s place in your life and learn effective management. Implement these coping mechanisms to relieve anxiety. And when necessary, seek the help of a health professional.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am just sharing what has helped me in my experiences. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, please talk to a medical professional to make sure you find the right help for you.