What is Anxiety?
Do you know that all humans experience anxiety? Anxiety can present itself in many ways. It can be experienced as a small nuisance or a debilitating disorder, and anywhere in between. One of the most prevalent disorders among children and adults is anxiety, according to the DSM-5 and Family Systems (2017). Intrusive thoughts, worry, and fear are cognitive ways that we can be confronted by anxiety. These thoughts can lead to physical symptoms such as stomach aches, sweaty palms, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. Anxiety can also be problematic for our interpersonal relationships because the symptoms can make us feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable. Nichols & Davis (2017) stated, “The more people are driven by anxiety, the less tolerant they are of one another and the more they are polarized by differences”.
So, what can we do about anxiety responses to improve our functioning? Whether you experience minimal or more disruptive anxiety symptoms, there are things you can do that may help you feel better. The following self-care activities may help you manage and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Affirmations: Affirmations can be any statement that you would like to claim as your truth. They can help change the way you think, and motivate you with their message. Affirmations are most effective just before bed or following a meditation exercise. They can be used at any time however, to replace negative thoughts and beliefs by confidently claiming affirmations for yourself. They can be written down or spoken out loud. Affirmations can change fixed thinking patterns and unconscious thoughts (Borysenko, 2007). Examples are “I am worthy of love and respect”, “I release negative thoughts”, and “I have the strength to accomplish this task”.
Meditation: The activity of meditation centers attention on breathing and helps to push out intrusive and bothersome thoughts. Studies confirm the practice of meditation can improve sleep, self-esteem, emotional regulation, and enhance relationships (Walsh, 2009). Regular meditation can help reduce stress and negative emotions, and can increase self-awareness, creativity, and the overall feeling of calmness. Reading poetry, listening to music, or following a guided experience, are a few examples of the types of meditation you can do. You can find resources for doing meditation at a library, on YouTube, and there are several apps available for free.
Grounding: Grounding can be used to separate you from distressing thoughts or memories. It is a self-guided activity that uses questions to help connect you to your current presence. This grounding exercise uses the five senses to shift away from intrusive and wearisome thoughts. When you encounter anxious or upsetting thoughts, stand or sit on the ground and think about how the ground feels. Ask yourself, “Is there a scent in the air, what can you see, what sounds do you hear and what are they like, etc.” Continue exploring your environment until you become more currently present.
If you or anyone you know would like to have more information about anxiety, receive support, or talk to someone about their experiences, please contact our clinic through the link below.
Borysenko, J., (2007). Minding the body, mending the mind. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Nichols, M. P., & Davis, S. D., (2017). Family therapy concepts and methods. Hoboken, NJ: Pearson Education.
Russo, J. A., Coker, J. K., King, J. H. (2017). DSM and family systems. New York, NY:
Springer Publishing Company.
Walsh, F., (2009). Spiritual resources in family therapy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.