Writer: Ella Salome
Anxiety is a common foe for one in four Australians, according to Beyond Blue. Anxiety can strike at varying levels of intensity, in times of hardship or when everything in your life seems to be fine. Although anxiety is often considered less serious than depression, one can lead to the other, and for many people they are two sides of the same coin. But there are ways to deal with anxiety, so I’ve outlined a few steps which can be taken towards better anxiety management.
Recognise the problem
Perhaps this step seems redundant for those of you who have already come to terms with having anxiety, but often anxiety can get its hooks deep into a person before they even realise it’s there. I would argue that anxiety is at it’s most destructive when it goes undetected and therefore unchecked. Knowing it for what it is can make a big difference. Anxiety can magnify problems until they seem like gigantic obstacles. Being able to identify the anxiety can make it much easier to step back and remind yourself that the situation might not be as dire as it feels.
If you must worry, do it efficiently
So, you have something stressful in your life; it could be a late assignment or a house inspection, and you just can’t get it out of your head. Give yourself a time limit of fifteen minutes, and just get the worrying done. Think through the problem, use your nervous energy to plan out strategies to eliminate the issue, make lists of what you need to do and how you’ll do it. Once the time is over, set it all aside, and choose the next time you need to worry about the problem or deal with it. Until that time, whenever it enters your mind you can just say ‘no, I have done my worrying about that, I’ve done what I can’. Sometimes just acknowledging the problem in this way can loosen its grip on your mind.
Loosen up, have some fun
This can be a mammoth task when you’re deep in the clutches of a panic attack, but a bit of laughter and relaxation can make a lot of difference. Call a friend who makes you laugh, do something that you enjoyed as a child. Go on a picnic. Literally schedule fun activities for yourself, even just a ten minute interval in your day where you do something that makes you smile can make a big difference to your mindset. When our bodies are sick or tired, we feed them healthy food and vitamins; your mind is the same, you have to make sure it gets some of the good stuff every day to keep it healthy.
Talk to a professional
I can never stress enough how helpful it can be to talk a professional counselor or psychologist about your anxiety issues. It can be great to talk to someone who really understands the problems you face, and who may be able to explain some of the root causes of your anxiety. Even just a few sessions with the right person can help you make huge strides towards mental wellbeing.
If anxiety is making your life harder than it needs to be, take action. It can be an uphill struggle sometimes, but with the right management techniques you can beat anxiety and achieve the quality of life that you deserve.
Ella Salome is a writer, editor and musician who has just completed her Bachelor of Communications: Professional Writing at VU.