1 Simple Trick to Manage Anxiety

Feb 20, 2018 | Health

manage anxiety

Anxiety is a jerk. It prevents you from living a full life. It fills you with fear and makes you believe the worst is about to happen. It tells you to hide and stay hidden in the comforts of your home. It’s a relentless, dramatic, and often exaggerated fear.

Anxiety actually does has a functional purpose though. It was designed to keep our caveman ancestors safe from predators by triggering the primal fight-or-flight response. Humans have evolved leaps and bounds since the Stone Ages, but the brain has some major catching up to do. Today, our brain doesn’t understand the difference between real danger and the minor discomforts of the first world… so it just gives us an overload of anxiety for petty reasons.

Experiencing anxiety is a normal part of life. Believing that you shouldn’t have any anxiety ever is unrealistic. How we are able to deal with anxiety in the moment is how we allow it to shape our lives. When anxiety overtakes us– it can become crippling and turns to a mental health issue. All health issues require treatment and a proactive mindset– anxiety is no different.

I suffered from crippling anxiety for many years. I saw a professional counselor for a year. When that wasn’t working, I saw a psychiatrist and was prescribed antidepressants and benzodiazepines. When the medication wasn’t working, I drank alcohol, ate excessively, and numbed my life more by Netflix binging.

I spent years numb in my life and grew tired. I reached a breaking point. I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. I quit everything… medication, alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, Netflix. If I was going to be depressed and anxious then I was prepared to feel it, experience it, and try to work through it.

I learned that the one simple trick to managing anxiety is to breathe and focus on your breath. Okay, it sounds super simple and easy but does it really work? ABSOLUTELY. The next time you’re feeling anxious, stop whatever you’re doing, close your eyes, and take deep breaths in-and-out. It might even help to count the seconds on the inhales and exhales. While you’re breathing, you can even look around and start naming objects around you to bring you back to the present moment.

The problem is that when we start to feel anxious, we tend to stop breathing without realizing. In nursing school, I was taught that a lack of oxygen causes a person to feel an impending doom like, “OMG, something terrible is about to happen to me” or even “I think I’m dying”. Oxygen is the key to all body functions. If you are deprived of oxygen you will most certainly feel anxious.

The idea behind focusing on your breath is what allows you to disconnect from the anxious thoughts you’re experiencing. The truth is that the thoughts in your head are not who You are. Yes, capital ‘Y’. The ideas in your head are a part of your personality, but You, or your spirit, are what’s observed them. Focusing on the physical sensations of your breath is calming.

The truth is that everyone experiences anxiety. We all have fears and doubts. But with this one simple trick, you can learn how to manage your anxiety. You will be able to control your anxiety– not your anxiety controlling you. Who could you be without anxiety?

As simple as it seems, try it, and you’ll be amazing. Anxious thoughts prevent us from noticing what our body is physically going through at the moment. Remember this trick. Focus on your breath, count your breath, bring yourself back to the present moment, and you will begin to transform the quality of your life.

 

 

 

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