Hello Modish Mommies! Today I want to talk about anxiety. Specifically, I would like to briefly explore what it is, how it impacts each of us, and ways to manage it on a day to day basis. The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.” Much like other disorders such as depression, anxiety impacts each and every one of us. However, what is unique to the individual is the severity at which we are impacted. Anything that we do that requires a level of skill or attention can cause some amount of anxiety. Whether it’s a slight or mild increase in anxiety, it can help us perform better. For example, some level of anxiety may help us effectively give a speech, safely cross the street, care for our children, etc. In the situations described, anxiety serves a positive purpose and its existence is logical.
Although anxiety has a positive purpose, it can have a negative effect and become troublesome for certain individuals. A common example of anxiety is in the form of thoughts that we cannot turn off and impact the way that we interact with the world around us, also referred to as “racing thoughts.” Anxiety can also cause nightmares, weakness or fatigue symptoms. If our anxiety becomes so overwhelming that we are unable to live happy and productive lives, that’s when you need to get help. I would recommend searching for a mental health professional. This could be a Licensed Social Worker, like myself, Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, or Counselor etc. These individuals can help you work through anxiety and/or find ways to cope with it. However, I would like to reiterate that it is normal for each of us to experience some form of anxiety. For more mild forms of anxiety, developing habits to ground or relax can be a very effective intervention. Research has shown that deep breathing is one of the most helpful ways to manage anxiety. When done on a regular basis even when you are not feeling anxious at all, you can develop your ability to use deep breathing as a routine grounding technique. Here is one simple way to practice:
- Turn off any distractions
- Sit somewhere comfortable
- Inhale deeply for seven seconds (you should notice the rise of your diaphragm as you inhale which may look like your stomach expanding to indicate proper air intake).
- Hold for seven seconds
- Exhale for seven seconds (you should notice the fall of your diaphragm as you exhale which may look like your stomach getting smaller)
- Repeat this a few times
If deep breathing doesn’t work for you, some people exercise, pray, or participate in their favorite activities on a regular basis, which can also be an effective way of managing anxiety. If you are dealing with anxiety, let me know what effective tools you’ve found to manage your anxiety.