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  • Writer's pictureTanisha Shedden

Managing Anxiety

By Rebecca Guerrero

What is Anxiety?

“Just calm down”, “Think positive thoughts”, “BREATHE”....these are all common phrases we hear when someone attempts to help someone who is experiencing anxiety.

It is easier said than done. Anxiety is felt and treated in many different ways.

The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes”.

There is common and occasional anxiety we all tend to feel as we go through the daily waves of life.

The DSM-5 (The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) gives details of specific anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Social Anxiety Disorder, etc.Anxiety disorders are the most common in the U.S and it affects about 18.1% of the population. Around the world, anxiety disorders impact 1 in 14 individuals

.If you think you are at possible risk for the diagnoses of any disorder please seek medical help from professionals.

What does one with anxiety feel? What are the symptoms?

These are common feelings and experiences of those who experience anxiety:

  • Nervousness

  • Restlessness

  • Sense of panic, danger, or doom

  • Hyperventilation

  • Negative self-talk

  • Difficulty of controlling worry

  • Trouble Sleeping

  • Tense Muscles

  • Panic Attacks

  • Avoiding social situations

  • Irrational fears

Credit: mental.illness

How to Recognize Triggers?

Every person has different triggers and it is important to recognize what those triggers are for you to know how to treat and cope with them.

For example, in conflict that involves aggression or negative feedback, I tend to become anxious and feel myself becoming uneasy.

The following are common triggers, BUT remember everyone is different. What triggers you may not be listed, but as you begin to be more mindful and recognize patterns, it will be easier for you to recognize your anxiety triggers.

  • Stress from school, work, or personal relationships

  • Financial hardships

  • Emotional trauma

  • Medication

  • Social situations

  • Lack of Sleep

  • Caffeine

  • Judgement from others or yourself

  1. Meditation

Meditation is a practice of concentration and mindfulness and has the ability to bring peace in times of anxiety and stress. It can bring awareness to yourself, your thoughts, and emotions.

It will bring you back to be present in the moment. Your feelings are valid. Give them the time, address them, organize them, and take the moment of peace you deserve.

Here are some links for some of my favorite meditation guides:

  1. Yoga

Yoga is practice that helps align the body, mind, and spirit. It also incorporates meditation!

The meditation, movements, and mindful breathing can bring you peace and a sense of balance. It can also ease the pain that may stem from anxiety as well as calming your anxious thoughts.

Chandler Cena, 23, a yoga instructor at The Yoga Loft in Rexburg, gives her thoughts on how yoga benefits those who experience anxiety:

Yoga is one of the most successful tools for managing anxiety simply because there is so much emphasis put on breathing during yoga. Rather than your normal, everyday breath, you’re encouraged to use what’s called an “Ujjayi” breath. This breath is longer, slower, and only uses the nose.

So as you inhale through your nose you fill your lungs until you can’t fill them anymore, then you exhale through your nose until you can’t exhale anymore. This slow way of breathing physiologically switches our body’s nervous system.

We have two different “nervous systems” in our body. One is called our sympathetic nervous system.

This is the system that gets kicked on when we’re in a stressful situation—whether it’s when you’re running away from something scary or just surprised when someone jumps out to scare you as a prank. This is also the system that gets turned on when we are stressed out mentally.

Our body thinks we are in a life or death situation, so it uses all of its energy toward making

Our hearts beat faster, our muscles work more efficiently, etc. As a result of this, energy gets stopped being sent to our digestive system, causing indigestion. Our muscles tense up (since our body thinks we need to “fight something off”) and we get anxious (quick heart beat, shaky hands, sweaty palms, etc.)

The second “nervous system” our body has is the parasympathetic nervous system. This is our “rest and digest” state—the state we feel when we are relaxed. Everything functions properly.

This, essentially, is the state our body is supposed to be in for the majority of the time. But again, because of the stress we feel from everyday life, we are so easily kicked out of that relaxing state.

So, how do we take our bodies from that stressful sympathetic nervous system back to our parasympathetic nervous system?

We simply breathe. By slowing our breath, our body senses that we no longer are stressed. So it automatically switches to a relaxed state where our digestive system, our heart,

Our respiratory system, and our immune system all function properly. In turn, anxiety is relieved. That is yoga’s main goal—to slow the breath.

I have seen so many people come to yoga physically tensed up from stress and anxiety they’ve been carrying. It is my goal as an instructor to prompt good breathing habits, along with mindful movement, to allow them to walk out with all that weight off their shoulders and a calm mind to go with it.

To book a class at the Yoga Loft Rexburg with Chandler and other instructors, here is the link :)

If you are not able to attend classes, here are some Yoga Youtube Channels I recommend. Even if you’re a beginner:

  • Yoga with Adriene

  • SarahBethYoga

  1. Journaling

This can be a great way of sorting out your thoughts, challenging them, and can help you manage moments of anxiety and stress.

As someone with an anxiety disorder and an avid journal writer, I found myself writing all my negative thoughts but not moving past that.

It is important to involve action and purpose in your writing. In the moment of anxiety, it is very common to feel overwhelmed by your thoughts so when writing, take it easy.

My writing process is very simple and helps me through these troubling times:

  1. Determine how anxious you feel on a scale from 1-10 (very low- extremely high)

  2. List out the thoughts that are most apparent. What is bothering you? What triggered you?

  3. How do you feel at this very moment? Do you feel physical pain? Are you crying?

  4. How do you want to feel in ten minutes? An hour? Tomorrow?

  5. Write a couple of things you are grateful for. What makes you happy?

  6. As soon as you have gathered yourself, write about how you overcame this anxiety.

These are all useful and effective ways of managing anxiety, but to truly make a difference with your anxiety you should be consistent. Strive to be positive in your everyday life! Manage your time beforehand so you don’t have a constant weight of stress over you. Making a routine with work, school, and social life can help you gain more control of your life. Have a proper diet as nutrition is another factor of anxiety. Try to have a bedtime to regulate your sleep. This is all in an effort to give your body and mind the attention and care it needs.


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