Do you experience excessive worrying? Difficulties sleeping and restlessness? Fatigue? Concentration issues? Sweating and hot flashes? Irritability? Trembling and feeling as if something terrible is bound to happen?
Anxiety is a mental disorder defined by feelings of worry, stress, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with your daily activities. Anxiety disorders differ from one another in the types of objects or situations that induce fear, anxiety, or avoidance behavior and the associated cognitive ideation (APA, 2013). The most common type of Anxiety disorder is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (also referred to as GAD). According to WebMD, GAD is “marked by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school.”
Anxiety does not have a single cause; anyone can become anxious at any given moment and time. Ingersoll & Rak (2016) states that the word anxiety comes from the Latin root meaning "to choke or throttle," meaning a troubled state of mind. Anxiety is an anticipation of future threats and causes a reaction that happens when we encounter our fears. When you experience or going through an anxiety attack or episode; it can be difficult to think clearly, and may feel as if the world is crushing on you.
Occasional anxiety is expected on a day-to-day basis or as part of life. It is normal to feel anxious before a presentation, during a meeting, before making a significant/important decision. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is taking over your day-to-day life, you can no longer enjoy activities you once enjoyed or when the fear or worry would not go away.
When a person is dealing with an anxiety disorder, the feeling would often get worse over time if left untreated or unmanaged.
If you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety, Here are 5 ways to cope with anxiety:
1. Take deep breaths (4-7-8) method:
Try this: Breathe in 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly for 8 seconds. Repeat as necessary. Breathing techniques like this one help you feel connected to your body and quiets your mind. When you breathe slower and deeply, you signal your nervous system to return to a calm state.
2. Ground yourself in the moment:
Grounding using our five senses (sight, smell, touch, hear, and taste) is a great tool when experiencing an anxiety episode: (grab something to touch, pay attention to what you are smelling around you, what do you see? What sounds do you hear at the moment? And if you are eating, how does it taste?) . Grounding is a great tool to cope with anxiety because it allows you to get in touch with your body and allows you to focus on the present moment.
3. Name what you are feeling:
It is often hard to focus on what you feel while going through an episode. It is vital to remember that this moment will pass; it will not last forever.
4. Make sleep a priority.
It is important to make sleep a priority because your body is less likely to feel overwhelmed when you are fully rested. Developing a routine around sleep will help you promote good sleeping habits including establishing a bedtime, reducing screen time 30-60 minutes before bed, writing down your worries or journaling before bed.
5. Identify the cause of anxiety:
It is essential to journal what brings on anxiety for you. Identifying triggers will aid in ways to better prepare for them. Consider working with a Licensed Therapist that specializes in the treatment of anxiety to help you stay ahead of your triggers of anxiety.
Remember, you got this!
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental
disorders: DSM-5(5th ed.). Washington, DC:
Ingersoll, R. E. & Rak, C. F. (2016). Psychopharmacology for mental health professionals: An integrative approach (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Learn More About General Anxiety Disorder https://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/generalized-anxiety-disorder
About the Writer...
Charis Acheampong is originally from Congo, Africa. Born and raised there until relocating to the United States at the age of 13. Charis is a Clinical Intern at Wellness Tree Counseling Services and hopes to practice in both English and her native language French. Charis is a firm believer in taking care of your mental and emotional state as we do our physical. Therapy is a joint venture between the therapist and client to find solutions.
Our mission at Wellness Tree Counseling Services is to promote wellness through a culturally sensitive lens so that individuals, families and communities are encouraged to rise to their full potential and engage life in meaningful ways. To learn more about our services, please visit www.wellnesstreecounseling.com