By: Darren L. D'Costa
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength. For many people, anxiety is more than a feeling of worry that keeps them up at night, torturing them endlessly and affecting every part of their life. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives and only 36.9% of those that are affected sought treatment. Life is definitely challenging and there are many things that prompt us to feel anxious. Some of the circumstances that cause us to worry are beyond our control, such as issues regarding our families. Some of our anxiety is self-imposed through poor choices or attempting to live at a pace we can't sustain. However, the question is not do we feel anxious but how do we manage our anxiety?
Firstly, focus on what you can control. A lot of anxiety stems from circumstances that we can’t control which causes us to feel trapped. For example, your landlord has decided to raise your rent well beyond what you can afford. You can let yourself get worked up about your landlord's greed and the injustice you feel or you can use that working energy to find a solution. Although this is not easy to do, once you start to focus on the variables in your control and you can change with your actions, you no longer feel as helpless and overwhelmed.
Secondly, exercise and yoga can help tremendously. Studies have shown regular exercise can work as well as medication to control anxiety for some people, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Even something as little as a 10-minute walk can make a difference. What's so great about exercise is that it stimulates chemicals in the brain called endorphins. Endorphins create a calm and positive mood according to Harvard Health Publishing. Thus, calming the mind and alleviating stress. Personally, I feel like this works the best as whenever I feel overwhelmed by certain situations, everything seems a lot smaller than it appeared to be after a workout.
Additionally, paying attention to the good things will help greatly. A great way to keep your mind off the worry track is to focus your thoughts on things that are good, positive, and beautiful. Appreciate the small everyday blessings. Allow yourself to dream, wish and imagine the best that could happen. For example, instead of worrying about whether you did badly on a test, why not imagine how well you might've done due to the immense hard work you’ve put in. Once I changed my mindset to incorporate this I realized that I felt a lot less nervous and a whole lot more confident in myself, which not only helped me perform better but also made me feel a lot better about my situation.
Connecting with others works wonders as well. Spend time with friends or family. Organized activities are great, but just hanging out works too. Doing things with those we feel close to tightens relationships, allowing us to feel supported and secure. The fun and sharing that go with it allow us to feel happier and less upset about things. If you feel worried or nervous about something, talking about it with someone who genuinely cares about you will help improve your mental well-being as it lets me feel understood and that someone out there has your back no matter what in this turbulent time of your life. You'll be reminded that most people have had similar emotions and that you're not totally alone.
Lastly, just breathe. When your anxiety starts to consume you, regain control by sitting down and taking a few deep breaths. Simply stopping and breathing can help restore a sense of personal balance and bring you back to the normal you. If you have the time, try taking this activity a little further and experiment with a breathing exercise and mantra. Meditation is another way to combat anxiety and it allows you to clear your headspace. It will give you a neutral perspective on your problems which is exactly what you need when anxiety hits.
In summary, anxiety is definitely something you can fight and I firmly believe every single one of us struggling with it can overcome it. Believe in yourself always and keep your chin up.