Recently, a young woman I’d never met before approached me, asking if I’ve ever suffered from anxiety, and we had a meaningful exchange about her struggles with this problem, and sadly, the lack of support she received from her loved ones, including demeaning comments, such as being told she was acting like a child.
Many people don’t realize the grip anxiety can have you, like feeling you’re going to have a heart attack, or like you’re losing control or going crazy.
Then upon mentioning this exchange to someone else I knew, they confided the same thing – they’d suffered from anxiety and panic too. So, I felt compelled to post the links to both articles above on Facebook, and had yet another person message me about his experience with anxiety.
Within only two days, all three people – male and female; young and middle-aged – discussed they struggled with anxiety. And two out of the three hadn’t sought help for it. This inspired me to want to pass on some helpful information about it.
But first, it’s important to know you’re not alone. 1 in 10 people suffer with anxiety, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The following are some tips to help ease your anxiety:
Know what’s triggering it. For instance, the young woman that approached me had just moved from a large city to a rural area, far away from her friends and family, even though she was going to be working at a place she’d worked before.
A change like this can provoke a lot of anxiety about how things will work out, especially without her general support system nearby. However, knowing her new situation has triggered her anxiety can help ease it somewhat – just by understanding that it’s normal for this change to be stressful and that she’s not “going crazy,” as she described it, and needed to give herself some time to adjust to the change.
Reduce the stress in your life. Pamela Frank, licensed naturopathic practitioner in Toronto, indicates, “Anxiety can become a vicious cycle. You are under stress and so you feel anxious and so you put extra demands on your body’s ability to cope with stress. This further depletes your coping resources and so your ability to deal with stress goes even lower and your anxiety level goes even higher.”
Eliminate foods that aggravate your anxiety. If a certain food you ate kept giving you stomach aches, you’d probably eliminate it from your diet. And it’s the same with anxiety. Why continue to subject yourself to things that aggravate it, like a diet loaded with caffeine or sugar, when you can create a better equilibrium with foods such as those rich in magnesium, essential fatty and amino acids, and B vitamins?
Exercise. It burns off the adrenalin, sugar and fat pumped into the bloodstream when we’re anxious, calming the nervous system and increasing the endorphins – or happy hormones.
Practice calming techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, yoga, tai chi.
Talk out your concerns. A good supportive network of people you feel comfortable with and feel you can talk to can be an invaluable tool for helping to ease anxiety.
However, if your anxiety is affecting your daily functioning, talking to a professional, such as a cognitive therapist, can be very helpful with things like understanding your thinking patterns or other habits that are perpetuating it, in addition to providing you with tools to counter it.
The goal is to reduce the fear to better manage your reactions to situations that trigger it.
If I could emphasize one thing, it would be to reassure you that anxiety is one of the most treatable problems. Psychologist, Elizabeth Gilgrist in Edmonton says, “Anxiety is one of the most common and treatable mental health issues, and [it’s] evidence-based and effective.”