Anxiety is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat. Anxiety is the more associated with the expectation of a future threat.
It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, sleeplessness, fatigue and lack of concentration. Physiological symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Neurological: headache, restlessness, sleeplessness, paresthesias, vertigo or presyncope.
- Digestive: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, dry mouth or bolus.
- Respiratory: shortness of breath or sighing breathing.
- Cardiac: palpitations, tachycardia or chest pain.
- Muscular: fatigue, tremors or tensed muscles.
- Cutaneous:perspiration or itchy skin.
- Uro-genital: frequent urination, urinary urgency, dyspareunia, or impotence.
Talking about it to a friendly and trusted person helps relieve symptoms of anxiety. Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness.
Here are a few helpful techniques to help you deal with anxiety.
1. Breathe out longer than you breathe in: 7/11 Breathing Technique
By controlling your breath you could control all the other symptoms related to anxiety, this step is key. Breathing out longer than you breathe in calms down your body in almost every instance. So do the following if you feel anxious:
- Focus on your breath
- Take a breath in while counting quickly to 7
- Then slowly breathe out while counting quickly to 11
Do this for a minute and be amazed how quickly it will calm you down.
2. Preparation: Add Breathing to Your Imagination
Do the above step whilst imagining the upcoming situation. This primes your mind to feel more relaxed naturally and automatically if the situation actually comes up. So when you find yourself thinking about the situation, which makes you anxious, add the 7/11 breathing technique to it.
Anxiety or fear makes us incapable of thinking clearly. This happens because the emotional part of the brain overshadows the thinking part in such moments. It is a natural reaction by our brains to prevent itself from over-analysing the danger. However, retaining clear thought is calming and aids logical solutions. To help you do this, we suggest the “scaling technique”. Scale your fear or anxiety from 1 to 10; 10 being the most terrified and 1 the most relaxed state. This activates your “thinking brain”, diluting overwhelming emotions and automatically calms you down.
keeping your ‘thinking brain’ working actually calms you right down
4. Go back to basics
A lot of people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-treat anxiety, but this will only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night’s sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety. Read about dietary adjustments to help you deal with anxiety here
Overcoming fear and anxiety will give you the ‘spare capacity’ in life to focus on what you really want to be and do. It takes effort, but imagine the rewards.