Tips To Manage Anxiety And Stress
Try these when you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
For the biggest benefits of exercise, try to include at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity , or a combination of the two.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find its more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an exercise buddy. It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
If you are the parent of a college-aged child with an anxiety disorder, here are some tips to help with managing his or her anxiety.
What Should You Not Say To Someone With Anxiety
What should you not say to someone with anxiety? Youre an anxious personNo one wants to be labeled for something that causes them immense stress and pain. Why would you be anxious about that?This response implies that they should not be anxious and their response is unjustified. Just dont think about it 5.
How Anxiety Can Impact Your Relationship
If you are dating someone with anxiety, it is likely your loved one spends a lot of time worrying and ruminating on everything that could go wrong or already be wrong with the relationship. Here are some examples of negative thoughts and questions that might be running through their brain:
- What if they dont love me as much as I love them?
- What if theyre lying to me?
- What if theyre hiding something from me?
- What if theyre cheating on me?
- What if they want to cheat on me?
- What if they like someone else more?
- What if my anxiety ruins our relationship?
- What if we break up?
- What if they dont text me back?
- What if Im always the first one to reach out?
- What if they ghost on me?
Most people have at least a few of these negative thoughts. They are a normal part of being in a relationship, especially a new one.
People with an anxiety disorder, however, tend to have these anxious thoughts more frequently and more intensely.
We tend to experience more anxiety when we focus on negative thoughts rather than positive ones.
The anxious thoughts cause physiological symptoms, including shortness of breath, insomnia and an anxiety or panic attack. Someone with anxiety can react to relationship stress with a fight-or-flight response as if the stress were a physical attack.
Sometimes anxious thoughts motivate your partner to act in ways that stress you out and strain the relationship.
Stay Calm And Help Him Calm Down
Anxiety disorder is based on fear. This fear can be rational or irrational. Fear activates the stress response, which can cause a number of physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body. These changes can produce some profound anxiety symptoms. Often its these symptoms that anxiety disorder sufferers react to with more fear.
Regardless of whether the fear is rational or irrational, or whether the symptoms are strong, we can always find ways of calming ourselves so that the body shuts off the stress response, which leads to feeling better.
If your loved one or colleague is struggling with an episode of anxiety, encourage him to calm down and settle himself. As he calms down, he will feel betterin time. It can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from an activate stress response.
Remaining calm yourself can provide an example for him. Encouraging him to calm down can also help him calm down. Keeping calm is one of the silver bullets for anxiety as it shuts off the very mechanism that activates it.
Dos And Donts Of Helping Someone With Anxiety
- It is challenging to love someone that lives with anxiety
- Some of the ways that friends/family try to help can make anxiety worse
- There are many dos and donts for those who have loved ones with anxiety
- Your support is going to be a big part of their recovery
- If you personally have never experienced an anxiety disorder, it is helpful to remember that the experience of living with anxiety is typically not what most people imagine
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Managing Your Reactions To The Anxiety
When your partner talks about his or her anxiety in the context of your relationship, its easy to take it personally and become upset. Its easy to interpret anxiety as selfishness, rejection or an attempt to create distance, but try not to.
If you start to feel frustrated with your partners anxiety you should take a step back and ask yourself why you are having this kind of reaction. This will help you understand yourself better and prevent you from giving a negative reaction to your partner. Bisma Anwar, LMHC
Imagine your partner says she has anxiety about you cheating. If you take it personally, you might think she has this anxiety because she judges you or thinks you are the kind of person who is likely to cheat.
The moment you make it about you, youll start to feel upset. You might react defensively and say something mean.
When you react with anger, your response is most likely coming from a place of fear and hurt feelings. Doing your best to not react out of anger is key, and apologizing after for anything hurtful youve said or done is crucial to reconciliation.
Then your partner will strike back. Flash forward to an hour later and youre fighting. The argument has snowballed. You might not even remember why you are fighting.
Know When Its Time To Ask For Help
Even though the symptoms of anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, anxiety is highly treatable. If someone you love is experiencing pervasive anxiety, or you have concerns that anxiety is interfering with daily life, encourage them to seek help from their primary care physician or mental health professional.
Of all the ways to help someone with anxiety, this may be the most important one.
As a friend or loved one, your role is to offer support, not treatment. Offer to assist with locating a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist that treats anxiety. Talk to them about online and in-person therapy options.
Individuals living with anxiety can often feel better by undergoing a combination of therapies, including psychotherapy, medication, and self-management.
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Encourage Them To Seek Help
Lets make something clear:
Its not your responsibility to give your partner treatment.
Dont act like their surrogate therapist.
According to Jim Folk, founder of Anxietycentre.com:
While self-help information can be beneficial, a professional anxiety disorder counsellor/therapist is almost always required to overcome problematic anxiety because many of these behaviors are invisible, and therefore, unknown to the sufferer.
Seeking professional help will not only be good for your partner, but it will also be good for you, too. In fact, many people go through couples counseling, even if only one person is suffering from anxiety.
There is no shame in asking for help, especially if it means being able to maintain a healthy and loving relationship.
Cognitive Strategy Exercise Sheets
These exercises are great to use when trying to change your thinking about a particular event that makes you feel stressed out.
An effective coping strategy is to consider alternatives to the stressful event and to reframe it as positive. Often the anxiety we feel about a particular event is unfounded and linked to only one outcome there may be many positive outcomes possible.
The What If? Bias worksheet is a good starting point to help you change how you think about the particular stressful event causing you anxiety.
The next two worksheets are very similar, but the second sheet is more in-depth than the first. Both will help you consider solutions to the current thing that is causing you anxiety. Forming a plan, listing the obstacles, and possible solutions are effective strategies for coping with anxiety.
In the Coping: Stressors and Resources worksheet, you need to list what you think is causing you anxiety and then consider the coping resources you have to tackle the problem.
To help you foresee possible challenges, you also need to consider the potential obstacles that you might encounter and how to overcome those obstacles. This worksheet can also be easily written up in a journal so that you dont need to print it out multiple times.
The can be useful when you feel incredibly anxious about a specific event.
Here is a list of practical activities and exercises to help you cope with anxiety.
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Dont: Never Assume That All Negative Things Happening In Their Life Is Because Of Their Anxiety
Yes, anxiety plays a significant role in a persons life. There are times they cant personally control their symptoms. But do not assume that the negative things happening in your partners life comes from their anxiety alone. Your partner may be going through stress, and all you need to do is be there for your partner. Thats why these kinds of relationships need open communication.
Exploring Treatment Options For Anxiety
Professional help is by far the most effective treatment option for anxiety. Experts can help you find the most effective treatment solution for the person you are helping. Nonetheless, one treatment option doesnt fit all. Thus, you have to explore and research as many treatment options as possible for anyone with anxiety. Below are some of the best treatment options that work for people with anxiety.
1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Also known as CBT, cognitive therapy helps in rewiring anxious brains. CBT is evidence-based, and numerous studies show how effective CBT is in treating various medical conditions. CBT is a treatment that combats the thought patterns that lead to anxiety.
Negative thought patterns and inaccurate thoughts are potential causes of false perceptions among people with anxiety. CBT helps in lowering stress levels and reducing signs of anxiety.
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2. Anxiety Medication
Anxiety medications are prescribed with other therapeutic approaches, including CBT. Anxiety medications are the first option of treatment among persons with anxiety. These drugs are among the most effective medications for anxiety:
These are sedatives that ease the effects of anxiety medications. These sedatives also help with reducing muscle tension that results from anxiety disorders. Some of the drugs in this category include Valium, Ativan, and Xanax.
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Seek Out Ways Of Managing Anxiety
Persons with anxiety should try to manage their anxiety symptoms along with seeking professional help. The clue to answering the How can I help? question lies in the patients behavioral patterns and everyday activities.
Unfortunately, many persons with anxiety tend to indulge in harmful activities to overcome their anxiety problems. Such dangerous activities include substance abuse, excessive drinking, drug overdose, and smoking.
As you may know, such habits are false short-cuts to dealing with anxiety. Indulging in such bad habits can worsen the existing anxiety symptoms. Therefore, encourage the individual struggling with anxiety to indulge in productive activities at home.
Various approaches can help a person with anxiety manage anxiety at home. Some of these approaches for managing anxiety at home include:
- Indulging in physical activities for at least half an hour every day helps the body release endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that aid in stabilizing mood and behavior.
- Deep breathing workouts.
- Developing a good sleep regimen.
- Refraining from taking brain stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and other drug-like substances.
- Practicing mindfulness to help an anxious brain to calm down.
What Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety
There are things you should try and avoid saying too. In general, try not to minimise how someone feels or dismiss what they’re saying as an overreaction. Don’t say things like:
- Try not to think about it
- I get anxious sometimes too
- Maybe you’re just an anxious person
- You’ve got nothing to be anxious about
Treatment Options For Patients With Anxiety
There are two primary treatments for individuals with anxiety:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves learning how to lower anxiety and face distressing situations.
- Medication management with antidepressants, which works well on its own but even better when coupled with CBT.
During therapy, continue to show your support by:
- Asking your loved one what you can do to help them.
- Asking if you can attend a therapy session to learn some skills to better support them.
- Making time for your own life and interests to sustain your energy.
- Encouraging your loved one to try another therapist if the first one isnt a good fit.
Don’t Enable Their Anxieties
When someone has anxiety, they may try to avoid certain places or scenarios. As a result, you may have started to modify your behaviour as well. For example, you may have started to avoid certain places or scenarios too, or may have started taking on tasks to help the person continue with their avoidance.
We understand that this may seem helpful as you are stopping the person from worrying in the short term, but this avoidance can actually have a negative impact on them in the long run. Their continued avoidance can perpetuate their worries and prevent them from recognising that they could actually manage in the scenarios that they are evading.
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What If Your Partner Refuses To Take Treatment
Anxiety is a real mental issue, but it is very treatable. However, it is sometimes hard to convince someone to get treated.
There are different reasons why. They might have tried before and found that it didnt help. Treatment can fail because they are not the appropriate type for the kind of anxiety a person has.
According to Thieda:
It is best to work with a professional who uses cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques and is specifically trained in working with people who struggle with anxiety.
Another reason could be that they find professional treatment daunting and intimidating.
For this, Thieda suggests:
Maybe they need to approach their treatment in a different way, breaking down the challenges into smaller, more manageable pieces.
But whatever you do, Thieda urges you not to resort to pleading or manipulation.
No amount of begging, pleading, or threatening is going to be effective, and will likely make things worse.
The truth is, you cannot help someone who doesnt want to be helped. You can certainly explain to your partner how treatment can help them. But ultimately, it will be their decision.
Stop Treating Your Loved One Like A Machine
If you see someone struggling and spinning out of control, hurting and afraid, your first impulse might be to try and fix the situation with advice and rational thinking. This comes from a good place. We just want our loved one to be better, and we dont want them to hurt!
But theres a dangerous side to this impulse. Without realizing it, we begin to treat the people in our lives as machines that need to be fixed or puzzles that need to be solved. When they feel anxious or panicked, we want to jump in and fix them. Hear me on this: Your loved one is not a broken machine. Anxiety is a signal that theyre feeling unsafe and disconnected. Instead of trying to fix them, lean in and listen. Provide a safe, supportive space for connection.
Instead of focusing on solving the problem, offering advice, or muscling your way to a solution , just ask yourself how you can simply be with your loved one. Offer support. Offer love. Offer a listening ear. Offer your presence. Clean the kitchen or fill their car with gas. Move toward with your heart and not at with your advice.
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Know When To Seek Help
Watching a loved one struggling with anxiety and going through this devastating mental problem can be painful. If you notice anxiety symptoms in an individual, consider talking to the person and advise them to seek medical care.
Self-help strategies might not be effective in treating severe symptoms of anxiety. Hence, it is imperative for persons with anxiety to seek professional help right away. If you notice that anxiety is troubling a loved one in their everyday life, then it means that their anxiety disorder is getting out of hand. Therefore, it would help if you advise the individual to consider seeking professional help.
Of all the ways you can offer help to someone with anxiety, professional help is the most effective way of helping a person with anxiety.
Help Someone Who Is Anxious To Temper Their Thinking
Youll be a more useful support person if you educate yourself about cognitive-behavioral models of anxiety, which you can do by reading or attending a therapy session with your loved one. But, in lieu of that, you might try using some techniques that can be helpful to people suffering from anxiety.
Typically, anxious people have a natural bias towards thinking about worst-case scenarios. To help them get some perspective on this, you can use a cognitive therapy technique where you ask them to consider three questions:
- Whats the worst that could happen?
- Whats the best that could happen?
- Whats most realistic or likely?
So, if your loved one is anxious that they were supposed to hear from their parents hours ago but havent, you can suggest they consider the worst, best, and most likely explanations for the lack of contact.
Take care not to overly reassure your loved one that their fears wont come to pass. Its more useful to emphasize their coping ability. For example, if theyre worried about having a panic attack on a plane, you could say, That would be extremely unpleasant and scary, but youd deal with it. And, if your loved one is feeling anxious that someone else is angry with them or disappointed in them, its often useful to remind them that you can only ever choose your own actions and not completely control other peoples responses.
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