Americans have long been motivated to compete against each other. Whether it’s a rival sports team, a political opponent, or a greater cause like cancer, hunger, or AIDS, people look for things to beat. But what is it about anxiety that leaves people feeling defeated and experiencing such despair?
Everybody experiences anxiety—it’s a natural response that helps humans survive. The unease and worry that comes with uncertain outcomes have protected people for a long time. Think of your weariness to walk down a dark alley alone, or the instinctual urgency you have when a fire alarm goes off. Those make sense, right?
But when anxiety becomes intense, prolonged, excessive, and is partnered with other hindering symptoms, it certainly doesn’t seem to feel like a survival tool. Instead, it feels like a David vs. Goliath moment, and the worry becomes an opponent to be defeated. At that point, it’s usually considered an anxiety disorder.
If you feel like intense and excessive anxiety is keeping you from living well, you’re not alone. Researchers found that anxiety disorders are the most prevalent of psychiatric disorders, with one-third of the population affected within their lifetime. You can suffer from anxiety disorders for years or decades, and it’s easy to see how anxiety would naturally contribute to relationship difficulties, depression, and other health concerns. Simply put, anxiety can affect every part of life.
So how do you begin to slay the giant?
Breathe. Many may read this in despair and think, “you’re telling me just to breathe?” But this truly is an important step that should not be devalued. What would happen if you took 60 seconds to cool down and breathe before walking into challenging situations? There are many mindfulness activities that you can do in less time than it would take you to use the bathroom. You can even utilize technology to help, with meditation apps like Headspace.
Exercise. According to an article in Psychiatry Research, people with anxiety disorders have a greatly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and additional, more specific anxiety disorders. Given the benefits of exercise on well-being and cardiovascular health, it’s clear that exercise is a beneficial intervention for people with anxiety disorders. If you’re just starting an exercise program for the first time, try to set achievable and measurable goals. Think laps, not miles. Consider enlisting the help of a personal trainer who can cater a fitness program specific to your needs.
Acknowledge. People often assume that if you don’t think about something, it doesn’t exist. Or if you do think about it, it will hold more power over you. But simply communicating that you’re having a hard time can be hugely beneficial. Ask yourself what you want or need. Ask those around you if they can contribute. Your negative feelings tell you something about yourself. Acknowledging symptoms can lead to seeking answers, which aren’t typically found in isolation.
Treat. Stigmas about asking for professional help have contributed towards under-recognition and under-treatment of anxiety disorders. Studies show that anxiety disorders can be successfully treated with medication and psychological therapies. This can also be a place to investigate your ideas and beliefs about the world and how it responds to you, which often take an emotional toll that isn’t easily seen.
When considering the idea of sharing with others, people often fear judgment. People tend to deny and push through suffering, or just to wave the white flag.
The experts at Innovation360 are available to fight your battles with you. They’ll help you identify healthy relationships and develop the necessary communication skills, so that you can learn to connect with others, feel a sense of belonging, and experience victory over anxiety.
Don’t battle your anxiety alone. Contact the experienced professionals at Innovation360 by calling 512-710-5533 or visiting www.i360austin.com.