Anxiety is a natural response to stressful situations, but there is a fine line between the uncomfortable anxiety that can help guide your actions and the crippling anxiety that may feel impossible to control. Everyone struggles with anxiety at some point, but what triggers it varies from person to person. Identifying what triggers your anxiety can make it easier to cope with and better equip you to manage symptoms when it does surface.
While you cannot always know when panic or an anxiety attack will hit, there are ways you can manage symptoms quickly. As is the case with any condition, medications may help make it more manageable, but it is not necessarily a cure. Finding ways to better manage symptoms is also effective in the long run, helping you reduce the frequency and severity of attacks overall.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders can be caused by any number of factors. While everyone struggles with symptoms of anxiety to some extent throughout life, when symptoms persist for months at a time and become overwhelming, it may indicate a more serious issue has developed. Some of the most common causes of anxiety include:
- Genetics: Those who have family members that have also struggled with this disorder are more likely to develop the disorder themselves.
- Medical factors: It can be triggered by other health-related factors. An underlying condition or disease, side effects of a medication, and stress can trigger the development of an anxiety disorder.
- Brain chemistry: Extreme stress or trauma can lead to the development of these disorders. These experiences can alter the way the brain responds to specific situations, triggering symptoms of anxiety to occur more readily than they may have before.
- Environment: Relationships, work, finances, and other life events can be a great source of stress and anxiety. Even if some of these elements may be more in a person’s control, it does not make them any less stressful or triggering.
- Substance abuse: Using drugs or alcohol can cause a number of side effects. Many of these can cause symptoms associated with these disorders and may worsen over time with continued use.
There are several signs and symptoms that may indicate an anxiety disorder is present. This can be diagnosed by a mental health professional. The most common indicators include:
- Experiencing excessive worry more often than not
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Persistently feeling any of the previously listed symptoms
Experiencing symptoms can lead to the development of a panic attack. Panic attacks can cause a number of physical symptoms to surface simultaneously and the stress of the experience can worsen it. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling panic or dread
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling light-headed
There are several coping mechanisms a person can use to cope with a panic attack. While incredibly effective when faced with a panic attack, they can also be used to help manage anxiety on a daily basis. Focusing on breathing, closing your eyes, and hyper-focusing on a place or thing can help you through the experience.
Coping with Anxiety Naturally
While there are medications and therapies specifically used to treat this disorder, symptoms can arise at any time. Being equipped with natural methods of quickly addressing these symptoms can help you regain control of the situation and avoid spiraling. Additionally, some lifestyle changes can help minimize the risk of symptoms arising. Some ways that you can naturally reduce the impact of anxiety include:
- Eating a balanced diet: Not skipping meals and eating balanced meals can ensure you are getting the nutrients needed to manage your day-to-day needs. Eating poorly and skipping meals can leave you feeling tired and drained, causing your mood and thought patterns to worsen. This can make it more difficult to cope with stressors. Getting the proper amount of nutrients and vitamins in your diet can help regulate mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Reduce caffeine intake: In addition to eating healthy foods, reducing the amount of caffeine you consume can help manage anxiety. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can worsen symptoms of anxiety when triggered. In some cases, studies have shown that caffeine can be responsible for causing an anxiety attack. By limiting your intake, you can reduce levels of anxiety overall.
- Exercise regularly: Studies show that exercising for at least 20 minutes a day can help reduce anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins that boost mood and improve mental functioning. In addition, exercise is a great way to cope with stress and negative emotions, providing a healthy outlet that is beneficial for overall wellbeing.
- Express yourself: Bottling up your emotions can cause them to worsen over time. Finding an outlet to express your feelings can make them less overwhelming. For some, writing is a great release as it can be kept private, but it allows you to process the thoughts and feelings you are dealing with. Talking to a trusted person can also help put your mind at ease as well. Sometimes, talking to someone about what you are experiencing can make it easier to manage and see solutions you may not have found alone.
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms: When you feel symptoms of anxiety creeping up, having a method of deescalating them can help you stay in control. Some common methods of managing symptoms of anxiety include taking deep breaths, meditating, or slowly counting to ten. These practices can help refocus your mind away from what is causing your anxiety to stir.
- Understand your own triggers: One of the best ways to combat anxiety is to understand what triggers it in the first place. Making a note of what is happening when symptoms of anxiety arise can help you identify patterns and stressors in your daily life. This can help you better prepare for stressful situations and minimize the impact of symptoms.
You can have anxieties without allowing it to control every aspect of your day-to-day life. While there are countless approaches to managing symptoms of anxiety naturally, meeting with a mental health professional can improve the process further. Together, you can work to identify triggers and develop long-term coping strategies to minimize its impact. Ultimately, the best method of addressing anxiety is a highly individual experience and some things may work better for you than others. Exploring different approaches and finding what is most effective for your needs can make living with anxiety much more manageable.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, or if your anxiety as led you to start self-medicating with alcohol or drugs, allow Nexus Recovery Services to help. We’re a mental health and addiction treatment facility that provides Los Angeles outpatient services. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you or a loved one.