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How to Manage Anxiety
Most people deal with anxiety in their day-to-day lives, but sometimes common anxiety can transform into something truly difficult to deal with. When your body and mind feel a mild to consuming anxious sensation, anxiety management becomes important. For consuming anxiety, there is professional medical help and pharmaceutical treatment, but for milder forms of anxiety, there are many alternative therapies that can aid in soothing the symptoms.
Step 1: Asses your anxiety
According to Jim Folk, author of Recovering From Panic Attacks and president of the Anxiety Centre, there are over 100 symptoms of anxiety. The severity and particular symptoms you experience is in part due to your chemical make up. A licensed professional can help you determine if you suffer from anxiety and how severe it is.
There are several severe anxiety disorders listed in the DSM-IV-TR, including Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), all of which have different diagnostic criteria. Because there are so many anxiety disorders and symptoms, it is best to have your doctor or professional counselor accurately assess your anxiety level if fear and worry are disrupting your life.
Step 2: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
If symptoms are severe enough to affect your ability to function in daily life, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for anxiety, which helps to change thinking patterns and the way you react to stressful situations. Exposure-based Behavioral Therapy, an offshoot of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, helps individuals (especially those suffering from OCD) by slowly and delicately exposing them to situations or objects that cause them stress.
Step 3: Treat your anxiety with exercise
According to the National Center for Health and Wellness, 10 to 30 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise is a great alternative or complementary therapy to manage anxiety. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen through your body, which stimulates your nervous system and helps alleviate certain tensions. Exercise also creates endorphins, which helps you feel an increased state of well-being.
Step 4: Treat your anxiety with meditation
Meditation is widely known to support a restful mind and body, but according to AltMD, concentrative meditation, which helps an individual focus on his own breathing or a single sound, and mindful meditation, which works on quieting the mind, are two specific types of meditation that may help in anxiety management.
Step 5: Avoid caffeine and other stimulants
Everyone likes their morning cup of coffee, but caffeine is definitely something to avoid if you are trying to treat anxiety naturally. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends avoiding caffeine in coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate because it may stimulate your nervous system and make you more anxious. Also, it is recommended, if you suffer from anxiety, that you stay away from over-the-counter diet pills and cold medicines that include decongestants.
When it's at it's worst, anxiety can feel overwhelming. If symptoms are not affecting your ability to perform in life, using alternative or complementary therapies to manage anxiety can oftentimes help you change your entire lifestyle for the better. Noticing anxiety before it rises is the best way to prevent it from overtaking your life, and using such therapies as yoga and meditation on a weekly basis might help in keeping mild anxiety at bay.