Self Help Skills

How To Deal With Anxiety

1. Anxiety vs fear: Anxiety (disorder) is worrying about the future, about things clear or unclear - getting worked up about chances of having brain cancer. Fear is our emotional response to definite, immediate threat that is lurking around - someone knocking loudly on your door at 2AM.


Thus, anxiety is a longer-term disorder, while fear comes and goes in shorter bursts.


Also, our fear causes anxiety ('will they harm me?'), and our anxiety causes fear ('I hate not being able to control my body movements when I will have brain cancer').


2. Anxiety vs depression: Anxiety disorder is getting worked up about things in future that may or may not happen. Depression is not worrying about the future, because depressed people often think they know what bad stuff has to happen, and that the bad stuff has already happened.


Anxiety deals with a looming/or not 'hell' one knows not much about, while depression deals with living in a 'hell' one knows about.


People often confuse their anxiety with depression because they often take the same medicine prescribed to depressed people. So, it is a good idea to talk about your feelings with the doctor before they write you a prescription.


Also, when you are suffering from chronic anxiety disorder, the state induces a sense of depression as well.

'Why do I keep thinking...This is never going to change...'


Anxiety Management Techniques


- Take care of your health: Eat healthy foods. Have less of foods that play disco with your nerves - less coffee, alcohol and sugar. Give up smoking. Sleep well. Keep your blood pressure in control. Exercise to keep the ticker in shape.


- Breathe better: Try the 4-4-4 technique (deep breathing in to a count of four, keeping it in to a count of four, and slowly breathing it).


- Practice mindfulness: Focus on something - your breathe, body action, environment (trees, leaves, breeze, water flowing, people going about their jobs, etc) - observe, stop thinking. Live in the 'now'. Do it anytime you want to.


Mindfulness will 100% help take your mind off the worry. Whenever you find yourself among the dark clouds, stop. Look at the things around you, and one by one, start to describe each thing you see in detail - 'the leaves are especially green, green like...'. Stay in the present. This is gold.


- Stop listening to your 'worry calls you': Manage your internal talk. (please also read the guide to 'manage worrying')


- Check if your anxiety is related to your anger: Check if something is making you angry/will make you angry if it happens. If there is such a thing, think why it would anger you and what you would do to answer it.


- Laugh and play: Be busy having fun, and the irritating thoughts will stay away.


- Turn off your brain: When the negative self talk starts, just tell your brain to '***k off'. Stop thinking. Look at your brain like a parent observing an unruly, whiny child.


- Find replacement thoughts: Now that you know your unruly child/brain likes to muck about, give it something else to do, lots of things, if you can't seem to order it to rest. The easiest thought replacement technique is to chant some self-affirming sentence/mantra or, as a friend suggested, a mocking and funny phrase for the brain - 'tiny whiny lizard'.


- Schedule in your worry: We talked about this in 'Worry' guide. Just accept the fact that you 'go to' worry about something, and duly pencil it in your schedule for the day, preferably the last item on the to-do list.


- Doing beats (over)thinking: If you can identify the root cause of your problem, take apart the problem and try coming up with solutions for each of those mini-problems. Then get to carrying out the plan.


Finally, remember this: Anxiety-free people have goals. They have a to-do list to go through everyday.


Of late adults have taken to coloring books and apps to deal with the anxiety in their lives.


There you go.


Thank you for reading.
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