October 2020
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Anxiety: How to Understand And Deal With it

At some stage in our life we are going to feel anxious. Whether this is the nervousness before an important interview or the apprehension before making a big personal commitment anxiety is impossible to ignore. While a bit of anxiety is fine and natural, too much can result in a state of mind that becomes debilitating. Anxiety is something a lot of people cope with by running away; when the truth is that the opposite is more effective. Anxiety needs to be stood up to not run away from.

The only way to beat anxiety is to confront it head on. Anxiety is a type of fear and like any fear the best cure for it is to meet it and resolve it. The way to do this is to turn the right mental attitudes into habits. The way to do this begins with your thoughts because of the way your feelings are influenced by them. For instance, feeling anxious increases the probability that you will experience anxiety inducing thoughts. A vicious circle develops between the relationship of anxious thoughts and feelings; one results in another. If you tell yourself that things are ‘awful’ ‘terrible’ or horrible then anxiety ratchets up a notch. Putting things in perspective is the first way to fend off anxiety. Rather than immediately jumping to a conclusion of something being ‘terrible’ rationalise it as ‘bad’ or ‘unpleasant’. Remember that extreme thinking results in extreme reactions. Mislabelling an event is the easiest way to induce anxiety.

The problem sufferers of anxiety have is the low regard that society at large places on it, on the spectrum of mental health. Few non sufferers fully understand the life changing consequences of persistent anxiety. Anxiety can induce strong bodily and mental symptoms. Typically these symptoms become misinterpreted as something else. Anxiety can induce feelings of nausea that can be misconstrued as a sickness. Other times people think they are going crazy because they are unable to make sense of their feelings or the world around them.

Before tackling your anxiety you may wish to consider paying a visit to your doctor who can advise you on the physical sensations. The doctor can also recommend whether it is safe to begin confronting your anxieties. Talking things through with the doctor or taking a look at medical websites can help to familiarise yourself with the many common symptoms of anxiety. Not only is this useful in helping you deal with them, but also may actually help to reduce your anxiety. Why? Because when you get the symptoms you will know why you are having them. Remember much of the fear from anxiety is due to a fear of the unknown. Anxiety can be difficult to deal with but it can be done.

Confronting anxiety may sound like a strange method in combating it. After all would it not be better to try and avoid it if we want it to go away? Well no this is not the case as clinical studies have proven. Aversion therapy is one of the most effective forms of fear therapy. If you have a fear of snakes then exposure to them on a gradual and sustained basis can help to overcome the fear. Why? Because we gradually become accustomed to them and develop appropriate rational responses to them.

When it comes to facing your fears be it standing in a public place or meeting new people you should aim to manage your exposure in a manageable way. So in the case of standing in a public place you would aim to do so for around twenty minutes a day to begin with. By managing your experience you are managing your fear without overwhelming yourself. Gradually you will begin to master your anxiety, and as a consequence, reduce it accordingly. What ever it is you are exposing yourself to you need to get the balance right between unpleasantness and exposure time. Too much time and you risk overwhelming yourself but too short a time and you run the risk of never fully confronting your fear.

This is just one technique among many to deal with anxiety problems. If your problems are really severe you must see a doctor or mental health professional. Not only may they be able to provide you with additional treatments but they can also put you in touch with groups of people with similar problems. Remember to take your response to anxiety seriously; just don’t let it boss you around.

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