12 Tips for Coping with Anxiety Disorder
Having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life, but people with anxiety disorders experience frequent and excessive anxiety, fear, terror and panic in everyday situations that would not phase others. These feelings are not only uncomfortable but they are also unhealthy if they affect your quality of life and prevent you from functioning normally.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling helpless
- A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger
These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control. They are out of proportion to the actual danger and can cause you to avoid places or situations.
If your anxiety is affecting your life and relationships, it’s important to get professional medical help to rule out any underlying physical health issues as well as seeing a mental health professional.
There are multiple ways of dealing with anxiety disorders from psychotherapy and medications through to lifestyle changes, coping tools and strategies.
Here are 12 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder that you can put into place today:
- Seek professional help.
There are numerous different therapies available, and offered by The Lighthouse Bali, that will help those suffering from anxiety:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Often referred to as CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Research has shown it to be effective in the treatment of panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, among many other conditions.
CBT addresses negative patterns and distortions in the way we look at the world and ourselves. As the name suggests, this involves two main components:
- Cognitive therapyexamines how negative thoughts, or cognitions, contribute to anxiety.
- Behavior therapyexamines how you behave and react in situations that trigger anxiety.
The basic premise of CBT is that our thoughts—not external events—affect the way we feel. In other words, it is not the situation that you are in that determines how you feel, but your perception of the situation.
- Exposure Therapy:
Exposure therapy, as the name suggests, exposes you to the situations or objects you fear. The idea is that through repeated exposures, you will begin to feel an increasing sense of control over the situation and your anxiety will diminish. The exposure is done in one of two ways: Your therapist may ask you to imagine the triggering situation, or you may confront it in real life. Exposure therapy may be used alone, or it may be conducted as part of cognitive behavioral therapy.
Practicing mindfulness meditation can be an effective way to manage feelings of stress and anxiety, and can even be used as a relaxation technique for panic disorder. This meditation technique can help you slow down racing thoughts, decrease negativity, and calm both your mind and body. Research across age groups, gender, and geographical borders has shown how powerful a practice meditation can be in a broad range of situations.
2. Keep physically active.
Develop a routine so that you are physically active in some way on most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly and be careful not to overdo it as this will be counter-productive. Gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities as your body becomes stronger.
3. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you are unable to quit on your own, take a look at our Primary Inpatient Care treatment programs.
4. Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages.
Nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
5. Use stress management and relaxation techniques.
Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety. If you are not sure how to get started, there are plenty of videos available for free on YouTube. For a more structured approach, look on line for your nearest yoga center and classes. Alternatively, you may want to consider a tailormade retreat, with The Lighthouse Bali where professional help is offered to kickstart your efforts.
6. Make sleep a priority.
Do what you can to make sure you are getting enough sleep to feel rested. If lack of sleep is a chronic issue for you, you may want to speak with your doctor. Another option is meditation for sleeping available on phone apps – there are many that have free versions such as Headspace.
7. Eat healthy foods.
A healthy diet that incorporates vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish has be linked to reduced anxiety. Eating healthily promotes physical and mental wellbeing.
8. Learn about your disorder.
Talk to your health care provider and/or psychologist to find out what might be causing your specific condition and what treatments might be best for you. Involve your family and friends, and ask for their support.
9. Stick to your treatment plan.
Take any prescribed medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist gives. The more you put in, the more you will get out and consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.
While medications should only be considered for severe cases, they can be lifesavers for those with debilitating and chronic anxiety disorders. Medications that are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders include Benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines help treat many kinds of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These are powerful drugs that must only ever be taken in accordance with your doctor’s instructions. Never exceed the stated dose or take more frequently than recommended. These can be effective for short term use, however taking them for any length of time should be carefully considered and discussed with your health care provider and alternatives considered if possible, as they are extremely addictive. These are the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines for anxiety:
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
10. Identify triggers.
Learn what situations or actions ‘trigger’ your stress or increase your anxiety. Practice the strategies you have developed with your mental health provider so that you are ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations.
11. Keep a journal.
Keeping track of your personal life can help you to identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better. Writing about situations also forces you to rationalise them in a safe space.
10. Don’t let worries isolate you: stay close to your friends, loved ones or activities, don’t allow yourself to become isolated. The more you isolate, the worse your anxiety is likely to become.
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may worsen over time. If you want to get professional help away from home, our trauma retreats in Bali are tailormade to your individual needs. We offer unique programs that combine mental health modules with holistic care including yoga, meditation and breathwork. You help design your retreat around what you need and what you want to achieve. You will also have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty, spirituality and adventurous activities offered here in Bali.
If you know you need help, reach out to us before your anxiety worsens. We are open and can help to arrange your entry visa to Indonesia. Remember that anxiety and trauma issues are always easier to treat if you get help early. And, if you have been living with anxiety for years, it’s never too late to move forwards.