How many times have you been sitting down, reading a book or watching TV, and all of a sudden a feeling of dread and constant worry overcomes your senses? One minute you are relaxing, and then the next, you feel that something isn’t right. But what is it?
You run through everything that it could be. The house isn’t on fire, all the doors are locked, you have completed all of your assignments for the day, and everything is fine. But still, there is that voice that tells you that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be one of the most frustrating medical conditions to overcome because there is really no trigger for the anxiety. It can just come to you in the most relaxed of situations, like reading or watching TV.
It can be frustrating to hear, “You can’t be anxious, what is there to be anxious about?” The answer is that you don’t know, and not knowing can make the anxiety and worry worse because now you are anxious about what it is you might be forgetting or what you are supposed to have anxiety about.
Luckily, there are several methods for managing generalized anxiety symptoms that can help bring you back to a state of calm.
Assess Your Situation
Usually when you have been hit with the feelings associated with anxiety, your brain is telling you that something is wrong. But you know that everything is okay, or at least you think it is.
Anxiety is sending your brain chemicals that can give you an irrational feeling of worry, dread, or that something isn’t right. One of the best things that you can do to help in this situation is to get up and assess the situation that you are in.
Look around and make sure that everything is alright. Nothing is on fire. The doors are locked if they are supposed to be. Nothing is out of place, and so on.
Assessing your situation can help your body regulate itself by calming the jitters. It will also allow the executive and more rational part of your brain to regain control.
Anxiety not only affects you mentally, but also physically. When anxiety hits, your brain releases cortisol–a stress hormone–that tells your body to panic and get out of the dangerous situation.
With generalized anxiety, however, there is rarely a situation that you need to escape. You are not in danger, but your brain is telling your body otherwise.
If you are suddenly overcome with anxiety and your brain is responding, you can start to have trouble breathing, your chest and stomach can feel heavy, and your body may start to ache. It is hard to have a fight or flight response when there is nothing to fight or flee from.
Your brain is sending your body unneeded cortisol, and when the body has too much cortisol, it can have detrimental side effects on your body, such as heart disease. It can even increase your likelihood of cancer and stroke.
One way you can counteract the physical effects of anxiety in the moment is to take long, slow, deep breaths to help regulate your breathing back to a normal pattern. Develop a breathing pattern that works well for you to help you through those scary moments of anxiety.
Seeking Help for Managing Generalized Anxiety
Sometimes, the anxiety we experience can become so frequent and intense that it may be time to seek help from a trusted professional. Since anxiety and anxiety-related disorders affect more than 40 million Americans, most mental health professionals have received extensive training on how to help patients manage generalized anxiety.
Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You, like many others, should not feel ashamed to seek help for your anxiety before it gets too difficult to control.
If you are experiencing frequent moments of generalized anxiety that have become too hard to manage by yourself, give us a call. At Keri Powell Therapy, we have therapists with the experience to help you develop strategies to help you through those moments of anxiety. Let us know how we can help you!