Anxiety is a constant in today’s hectic life, but does it ever seem that you worry more than the others around you? While it is inescapable, anxiety can range from everyday situational anxiety to the clinically diagnosed Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You’re likely familiar with the former – it tends to rear its head when we’re running late for a date and end up sitting in traffic or waiting for a train. As for the latter, this is when your anxiety is pervasive, as in, you have a recurring pattern of anxiety that interferes with your daily life.
Anxiety in any form can be uncomfortable, so I encourage my clients to find ways to reduce anxiety on a regular basis. These are some simple ways to start taking control over worry that can benefit anyone.
1. Stay Grounded
Anxiety is like a snowflake turning into an avalanche – when you start to feel anxious, you get anxious about being anxious, becoming more anxious, and so on.
It’s important to stop the cycle early on, which can be done by “grounding” yourself – stopping for a minute to reconnect your mind and body, reminding you to be present in the moment. This brief pause can be enough to prevent anxiety from spiraling, and you can use grounding techniques anywhere your anxiety gets triggered.
A young woman I counseled was having trouble calming herself down before going into job interviews and felt she was sabotaging her efforts. In the waiting area, she would sweat and start to convince herself of all the reasons why she couldn’t or shouldn’t get the job, which did, of course, end up negatively affecting her interview performance.
She needed to find a way to stop herself from getting so worked up, and so we developed a way to remind herself to stop the cycle of anxiety with a simple technique, standing up and taking a deep breath. Taking a minute to do so would bring her back to where she was, reminding her of where her focus needed to be.
Mantras, meditation, and even yoga are all great ways to reconnect your mind and body and to prevent the cycle of anxiety from worsening.
2. Observe Yourself
I like to remind my clients that therapy is a journey of understanding the self, so it’s a good idea to learn to monitor yourself. What this means is starting to identify what triggers your anxiety – whether it is certain people, places, or situations – and finding ways to learn to tolerate that anxiety. You may get anxious about seeing your mother-in-law, but avoiding her isn’t an option. You want to stop yourself from spiraling into an anxiety drain and instead, take steps to proactively prepare yourself. Knowing yourself will also help you understand whether your anxiety is an inconvenience or a greater problem.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help
If you’re concerned that your daily anxiety may be too much to handle, you don’t have to go it alone. Getting anxious about whether you are anxious won’t help, so don’t be afraid to find a counselor who understands anxiety, and can help you parse out what it is that is causing your discomfort. New studies have shown that women are up to twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men, so you should never feel as though you are the only one who feels this way.