How to Cope with Anxiety
Last Updated on
What does anxiety feel like?
Imagine that you are going to a party and you feel excited but you’re also nervous and there’s something that’s holding you back, preventing you from being happy. You feel as though you are dissociating from yourself, like you are going through an out of the body experience, and this has been happening to you in social places for a long time. Every time you go out, you feel this panic and to curb this, you stop being social and prefer to live a lonely and isolated life.
The above scenario illustrates just an instance of anxiety. A person who experiences such emotions at any given scenario has anxiety disorder.
How common is anxiety?
Anxiety is much more prevalent than what people think. About 1 in 14 people suffers from anxiety disorders and billions of dollars are spent every year for anxiety disorder treatment. Anxiety disorders can lead to depression, poor performance in school, and suicide. Anxiety makes it harder to focus and to hold down a job and can also lead to relationship problems. Many a times, people don’t realise that they have this disorder and tend to sweep anxiety under the rug as just “nerves”. The reason people don’t think it’s important is that they don’t understand what it is. That’s why we need to differentiate ordinary worries from anxiety disorder.
Worry versus anxiety
It is normal to be worried from time to time. This anxious feeling is
good because it protects you. Worry is what helps you to meet your deadlines and what makes you aware and be fearful of threatening situations. But when this anxiety reaches the extreme even at the slightest uncertain situation when there’s no real threat, and it rises as an emotion over which you have no control, then you could be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Treating anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorder is about perceived fear or danger. A cognitive approach known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is based on the premise that everyone has an inner triangle based on feelings, emotions and thoughts. These are interlinked and dependent on one another. To change a paralyzing feeling like fear, we need to change the thoughts related to this feeling that leads to certain actions. This helps us to change our behaviour to avoid fearful places or objects rather than remain in it, making our life miserable. It is like programming the brain to overcome fear. The “stories in our head” all have a certain voice that we need to recognize in order to be able to overcome them. Say, like when you don’t have anything to worry about, you worry about that. Research shows that 40% of the things we worry about never happen. About 30% are in the past and they can’t be helped. Some 12% involve the affairs of others that are not our business. Around 10% relate to a sickness that’s either real or imagined. Therefore, only 8% of what we worry about is likely to happen.
There are two ways of looking at fear. One is to do absolutely nothing and just remain in a bubble of comfort and this is how people having anxiety disorders closet their feelings.
The other way is to overcome your fear like a warrior and build resilience.
There are many coping resources that one can try when conquering fear.
The first one is to reinforce to yourself that you are in control of your actions. For example, do you sometimes feel that you ought to put off something that was started because you are not ready enough? Do you find it hard to make decisions like what you should wear or what you are going to eat? Do you take a lot of time to decide what you have to do? A way to overcome this is to jump straight into action. Very often we want to do something perfectly. We delay starting something for fear of doing it badly. So, why not to do it immediately? You have good chance of getting it right. On the other hand, if you don’t start at all you are not getting it done at all. Rest assured, right or wrong, you can improvise as you go along.
People who suffer from anxiety have trouble accepting that they can’t control everything. They worry excessively about things that are beyond their control. If you can control something – some particular circumstance – then go ahead and do something about it. If you’re in a situation where you can do nothing about your circumstance, that what you are waiting for is in others’ hands, tell yourself that you can’t change it; you can only accept it and hope for the best. You can only change what you can control. Hence, there’s no use worrying about something over which you have no control.
Another coping strategy is to forgive oneself. People with anxiety tend to ruminate a lot on what they are doing wrong or how bad they are feeling. People with anxiety are not kind to themselves. They beat themselves about every little thing they may have done badly or could have done better, and are not able to overcome this feeling. It’s time to be kinder to yourself and be supportive to yourself, and a way to do this is to forgive yourself for any past mistakes you might have made and to let go of regrets.
- Top 5 ways to help with anxiety
- Social Anxiety
- How can we build resilience?
- Anxiety and Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- On Shyness: I’m too shy to talk about it, so I’m writing it down!
- Dealing with Stress