Fighting anxiety is no simple battle. Here are some helpful tips start to gain some ground back.
Define Anxiety Triggers
Start by making a list of all your fears, big or small. What are you most fearful of? What do you worry most about? What seems to increase your anxiety most? Try to come up with situations or experiences that seem to increase your anxiety. Are there certain thoughts you think right before your anxiety sky rockets? When you can predict the onset of anxiety it will no longer be able to catch you by surprise. Have a plan for how you are going to handle the situations that seem to increase your anxiety. This could mean bringing a friend along to a party, having an exit plan for an awkward situation, practicing grounding before you go into work, or simply teaching yourself to think differently about an experience before you encounter it.
Replace Irrational Thoughts
Once you know a little more about what increases your anxiety, and the lies you believe while you’re anxious, you can start to replace those thoughts. It might be helpful to make a chart. One side with all of the lies you have been believing and the other with the truth you’ve chosen to replace that thought with. The next step is probably the most difficult. Next you have to chose to tell yourself the truth when you are tempted to believe the lie. This will probably take the support of people around you. Let others in on the lies you are trying to replace so they can help. This process actually rewires your brain, so it will take time. If you’re having trouble making this change it may be easier to start off with giving yourself a set amount of time to worry. Set a timer and allow yourself to worry for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is up tell yourself you’re not allowed to worry until tomorrow during the 10 minute slot. Slowly decrease the time you’re allowed to worry until you get to the point where you can start adding in truth.
There are some practical things you can do to manage anxiety as well. Not getting enough sleep while you’re dealing with anxiety only makes the problem worse. Your body needs time to reload on dopamine in order to get through the next day. If getting enough sleep is difficult it may be necessary to look into sleep medication, or something more natural like melatonin. Exercise can also help fight anxiety. The natural endorphins that are produced while exercising are useful to your body while dealing with anxiety. Eating healthy is also important. Try adding yogurt, fish oil, and vitamin B and D to your diet for a natural approach to fighting anxiety. The last practical change you can make is to create time to connect with others. Simply sharing the thoughts running through your head with another person moves those anxious thoughts into reality where you can actually deal with them. We were made for connection and we suffer when we don’t have it.