Does the word "anxiety" cause you anxiety? Does it make your heart rate speed up, with sweat breaking out and a racing mind? Do you begin to imagine the worst and lose track of the rational part of your mind?
You aren't alone.
Over 18% of the US population is living life with anxiety, and women are twice as likely to fall into this category.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, less than 40% of those suffering from anxiety are going to seek treatment. Maybe they have found a way to cope with the anxiety that doesn't require medical treatment.
Here are five ways to cope with your anxiety outside of the doctor's office:
For some individuals who suffer from anxiety, merely recognizing that there is a problem and that they are hurting can help them turn around the downward spiral anxiety leads them into. Saying "I am not okay" and being aware of how you are feeling can help you calm your thoughts and remind you to stop focusing on the negative with such a significant emphasis. Simply telling yourself that even if you worry about it, the outcome is not likely to change, can also help calm the racing thoughts when that worst-case scenario pops up.
Many therapists swear by breathing techniques. Deep breathing and focusing on your breaths can help you take your mind off of everything else. A calm mind is less likely to feel anxious and more likely to focus on the good. Even if you just take a deep breath when you start to feel anxious, you are likely to feel better at the moment. More advanced breathing techniques are a learned way to treat your anxiety, but it is also super simple once you master it.
Regular exercise can also help calm an anxious mind. Whether it be running, high energy workouts, or yoga designed to benefit anxiety, the options are unlimited. There is not even a need to always break a sweat, just getting your heart rate going can help calm the mind and relax the body to cope with the anxious thoughts. So if you are feeling anxious, get your body moving and see if it helps take the edge off.
Use the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique: (5.) Identify five things you see around you. (4.) Identify four things you can touch around you. (3.) Identify three things you can hear. (2.) Identify two things you can smell. (1.) Identify one thing you can taste. Usually, by the time you have identified everything, your mind will have calmed itself and refocused away from the negative. The hardest part of using mind techniques is being able to pull it out of yourself when your mind starts to spiral. But in general, if you acknowledge your surroundings and focus hard on them, it can help redirect your account.
Finally, talking about and being open with your anxiety can actually help treat it. Plus you will be surprised with who else can relate to your feelings. Remember, you are not alone when it comes to your anxiety.
Having a circle of people you can turn to when your anxiety peeks can help you get through it quicker and easier.
Know your anxiety and know what does and doesn't work. This will take time, and talking to a doctor is often a good idea. They can help you diagnose and provide you further resources for coping. Do not be afraid to take medicine to balance out the thoughts.
Above all, this is what I want you to know: Living with anxiety doesn't define who you are.