Moving to a new city; interviewing for a new job; the security line at the airport; taking an exam; the current state of the world during the pandemic. Is your stomach churning yet? This feeling is normal and prepares us to deal with the unknown. And it has a name that may not be foreign to you: anxiety.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural reaction. It is part of psychophysiological reactivity. In other words, anxiety is a state of apprehension, expectation, or fear in the face of the unexpected.
When a person feels uneasy, even without the presence of real danger, and becomes upset to the point of disrupting daily activities, we call these inadequate responses “anxiety disorders”. In these situations, professional evaluation is indispensable.
How can I prevent an anxiety disorder?
Practicing simple and healthy habits can go a long way towards reducing anxiety levels. Let’s take a look.
- Breathing: The secret can be in a simple catch and release of air. Whenever you feel anxious, pull your attention away from your concerns and focus it completely on your breathing. Inhale through your nose, counting slowly to four, then hold the air in your lungs, count to two, and exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to four. Repeat the process five times or as many times as necessary. Breathing exercises slow down thoughts and gradually normalize the body’s rhythm.
- Organize your day in advance: One of the great anxiety-inducing villains is the desire to do and handle everything at the same time. If you organize your tasks in advance and leave everything prepared according to your schedule, the chances of losing control over the unexpected will decrease.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet: Avoid excess sugar, carbohydrates, and fatty foods. Don’t eat your emotions.
- Move your body: Physical exercise stimulates the production of hormones that help balance anxiety levels.
- Manage stress: Do what you can to avoid or dissolve situations that raise your stress levels. Meal prep, set your clothes out the night before, leave home earlier to avoid traffic, or seek alternative transportation to get around. Stress and anxiety go hand in hand.
- Question your thoughts: Stop. Ask yourself, “Does what I’m thinking make sense? Will it solve my worries?” Sometimes you might be running from the lion, but the lion only exists in your mind. Take a moment to ground yourself (notice where you are and your surroundings) and track yourself (notice your heart rate, your breathing, your physical response, and track it for a while). It will make all the difference. Try it!
- Form relationships: Cultivate healthy relationships. Prioritize those who have always been by your side. Living with other people helps us gauge our reactions. Feeling welcomed and supported helps us face the new with a positive attitude. Place people who don’t wish you well in the background and, if possible, remove them from your life.
- Pray even more: It was in prayer that many of the heroes of the Bible dealt with the concerns of life, and it will be no different with you. God is ready to listen to you. No matter how great the concerns, there will always be a reason for joy, light, and hope in the Lord.
- Relax before bed: Take a relaxing bath or warm shower, put on comfortable clothes, and lie in bed to enjoy a good book. Maybe the Bible? Avoid the use of screens and activities that demand a lot of your attention before bed, as they can steal precious hours of sleep.
- Live the here and now: Life is too short to mourn the past and suffer in anticipation of the future. Live the present with intensity. It’s a gift.
What’s a simple but powerful habit you use to help control your anxiety? Share in the comments below!