Anxiety is defined as a state of being uneasy, apprehensive, or worried about what might happen in the future. It can also mean an eager and slightly worried desire. Anxiety may be felt in the physical body as insomnia, inability to eat, physical discomfort or muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, irritability, feeling easily tired and generally feeling agitated.
Learning key tips to managing day-to-day anxiety is as important as taking a daily vitamin. The stress and strains of daily living can wreak havoc in an individual’s mental, physical and emotional health, impacting work performance and relationship satisfaction. Taking home daily stress to your spouse or partner can significantly erode the quality of your relationship, leading to only more anxiety. The following tips can help you manage normal, daily anxiety:
It’s Your Thinking that Makes It So
Learn that stress and anxiety is a result of cognitive appraisals, which are your thoughts and value judgments about a person or situation. Your emotions are then shaped by these appraisals. You can talk yourself into a state of extreme anxiety by ruminating on how awful or catastrophic a situation may be, or you can chose to see the situation with perspective. Perhaps you have the worst boss in the entire world, although it is unlikely. Constantly repeating this thought in your mind will bring distress. Choosing perspective means realistically evaluating the situation and reaching a calm, measured conclusion. Instead of having the worst boss in the world, see your boss as a human with many flaws, just as we all are. While you may not wish to be so kind to your boss, you are in fact being kind to yourself by choosing a conclusion that brings you less distress.
Learn to Physiologically Reduce Distress
The ability to achieve a relaxed state on your own, without drugs or medications, is one of the best antidotes to daily stress. Luckily, many options are at your disposal, from guided meditations to walking. Make a list of relaxing activities you can do, both at home and away from home. Self-soothing activities at home might include taking a bath or petting your animal companion. You might find a piece of music that brings relaxation, and the more you consciously relax to that piece of music, the more you’ll associate the music with a sense of calm.
Progressive relaxation describes a process of deliberately relaxing each body part, usually starting from the head and neck and working to the feet. While sitting comfortably, focus on your forehead, and then consciously relax the muscles there. Move on to your cheeks and jaw; focus and consciously relax. You may wish to tense the muscle then relax it, or just relax the muscle. If you can, create a recording of your voice walking you through the progressive relaxation, or purchase a guided mediation CD.
It’s important to have a relaxation activity you can do while at work or driving. The easiest technique is to combine deep breathing with any words that bring a sense of calm. Perhaps a short prayer or other spiritual words make you feel more peaceful. The important factor is to combine five to ten deep breaths with a short centering thought or coping statement. You won’t say these words aloud, so chose words that are meaningful to you. You might try statements such as:
- This too shall pass.
- I’m strong and I can deal with this.
- I’ve survived other situations like this and I will survive this one too.
- I can be anxious and still deal with the situation.
- This situation won’t last forever.
Physical exercise that is strenuous but does not cause injury, is an excellent way to channel or redirect worry into productive energy and get a good night’s sleep. Even non-strenuous exercise such as walking can have a positive effect on your anxiety load. Exercising with a supportive friend may take your mind off anxious thoughts.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a classic torture technique, one that many Americans inflict upon themselves by staying up too late. Your body needs the time to recharge for your next stressful day, so set a reasonable bedtime hour and keep it. If you can’t, reevaluate how you spend your time because sufficient sleep is a non-negotiable human requirement. If anxiety interferes with sleep, practice self-relaxation techniques before bedtime.
Change the Channel
News media focus on the bad news, which doesn’t promote a feeling of calm and safety. Much media coverage is designed to sensationalize, dramatize, and instill fear. Be aware of your anxiety level when watching violent television and movies. You may find that crime dramas and other violent programs noticeably increase your heartbeat, breathing, or mental state of anxiety. Life brings enough things to worry about; change the channel and let your entertainment choices foster relaxation instead of fear.