Updated: Aug 1, 2019
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Anxiety can be a very difficult and paralyzing experience at times and we often try to find ways to manage it, however some of those ways may be unproductive and only makes the experience of anxiety worse. Below are some examples of ineffective coping skills.
Too much distraction or keeping busy- Doing productive things can be helpful with anxiety however if you're trying to run away from the experience of anxiety the moment you rest or slow down, all of those thoughts come crashing down like waves. I tell clients that its analogous to swimming in an ocean and trying to beat the waves, the moment you get tired the waves come crashing down all at once.
Self medication- some people either consume alcohol or use marijuana to calm down their mind. It may do something momentarily, but when they come down from the high, or the feeling of being intoxicated, anxiety meets them right at the door again and they are dealing with thoughts and feelings they were haunted by before using the substance. Social drinking is acceptable however if you're utilizing it for the purposes of alleviating anxiety it makes it worse.
Thinking too much of the worse case scenario- catastrophizing is a main symptom of anxiety. For some, they feel that if they expect the worse they can manage their emotions regarding the situation. Doing this makes your experience of anxiety worse because you're consumed with what you believe will happen, and as a result you cannot be present focused and in the moment. For example, if you go into your car saying you will crash you will be consumed with the thought and cannot focus on the road. This would be due to your preoccupation with crashing as opposed to saying "there's a chance I could crash, and there's a chance that I will make it to my destination safely" Its holding both sides of the coin.
Some Helpful Ways to Cope with Anxiety
Mindfulness and Meditation- this technique helps to calm down thoughts as well as help you gain control. You will also have the ability to slow down mentally so that you're present focused. Most people with anxiety focus on the future instead of the present.
Deep breathing- this is a part of mindfulness, many of us rarely take the time out to take deep breaths which can help us get through those difficult moments when we're feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. Take deep breaths 5 seconds inhale, 5 second pause, 5 second exhale for true relaxation of mind and body.
Lavender or Chamomile- teas, oils, candles, naturally calms the mind and body. Make certain that the teas are decaf. There are also sprays and oils to use on the sheets and pillowcases of your bed.
When it comes to taking advice from individuals you always have to consider the source. The advice you get to manage your anxiety should come from a trained professional, or someone who has lived with anxiety and has found an effective way to deal with and manage the symptoms. Listening to just anyone can make your experience of anxiety