Dealing with Anxiety

Anxiety is experienced at various degrees by many people but it has been generally described as that knot of worry in your stomach, the racing thoughts that keep you up at night – it's a familiar foe for many of us. Anxiety can crop up in different scenarios such as being in an unfamiliar situation, uncomfortable situation or dangerous situations. 

While some anxiety can be helpful, keeping us alert and motivated, when it becomes excessive, it can significantly impact our daily lives. The good news is, anxiety can be effectively managed and there are ways available you can use to deal with it and regain control.

Understanding the Science of Anxiety
Before we dive into the strategies of dealing with anxiety, let us understand the science behind anxiety. It's basically an out-of-control version of our body's fight-or-flight response. When faced with a perceived threat (real or imagined), our nervous system releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. 

This prepares us for immediate action, but when the threat is persistent or non-existent, this overdrive can lead to physical and emotional symptoms like:
•    Racing heart
•    Difficulty breathing
•    Muscle tension
•    Fatigue
•    Irritability
•    Difficulty concentrating
•    Sleep problems

How then can we deal with Anxiety?

1. Cognitive Restructuring: 
This involves challenging and reframing negative thought patterns that fuel anxiety. You can ask yourself: "Is this thought helpful or realistic?” Replace negative thinking with positive affirmations, and concentrate on reasoning based on evidence.

2. Engage in Exercise and Relaxation Techniques: 
You have to move your body and practice techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation. They can activate the body's relaxation response, counteracting the stress response. Exercise is a powerful antidote to anxiety. Engaging in physical activities like brisk walking, running, swimming, or yoga releases endorphins, which are natural mood elevators that combat stress and anxiety.  Mindfulness exercises such as mindful walking or focusing on your senses can also be soothing and grounding.

3. Prioritize Sleep: 
When we're sleep-deprived, our stress hormones spike, making us more vulnerable to anxiety. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night by establishing a regular sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene.

4. Connect and Share: 
Social isolation can worsen anxiety. Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or support groups. Talking about your feelings and experiences can be incredibly therapeutic and provide valuable social connection.

5. Seek Professional Help: If your anxiety is severe or interferes significantly with your daily life, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can equip you with additional coping mechanisms and, if necessary, recommend medication or other treatment options.

Living with anxiety can be challenging, but it's important to remember that you're not powerless. By understanding your triggers, practicing effective coping mechanisms, and seeking support when needed, you can navigate your anxiety and maintain calmness. Remember, you are stronger than your anxiety, and with the right tools and support, you can reclaim your peace of mind and live a fulfilling life.

•    National Institute of Mental Health:
•    Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
•    National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):



Opeyemi Alalade

Opeyemi Alalade is a clinical physiologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. She is a content writer interested in writing educative and informative articles. She is also interested in participating in medical outreach. 

You can connect via her social medial platforms or send her an email.

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