Do you ever feel overwhelmed, stressed, or maxed out? Maybe you are feeling as if your anxiety is taking over your social, work, and/or love life?
Anxiety/stress feels terrible and can be brought on by many situations, including the pressures of work, deadlines, the weight of time, the reluctance to meet new people, etc. Uncontrolled stress and panic attacks can cause sleep disturbances due to racing thoughts and can keep people up at night and lead to problems staying focused during the day. Sometimes we even wonder if it is possible to manage anxiety because it feels like it’s invaded every thought and experience. But I’ve got good news:
You CAN manage anxiety and feel happier about your life.
- Get off the “hamster wheel.” Anxiety can make your mind go over the same thoughts in a continuous loop. Cyclical thinking doesn’t get you anywhere and is counter-productive to eliminating stress. For example, you might notice thinking the same thing, such as lying in bed and repeatedly thinking of your “to-do list.” Continuing these destructive mental cycles only increases the stress levels, fostering more negative thinking. The continuous thoughts increase the anxiety and keep the stress heightened. Be aware of your thoughts and get off the wheel with a mantra or different line of thought.
- Don’t forget to breathe: When people get stressed and overwhelmed, their breathing tends to become shallow and their muscles tighten up. Take a few moments to breathe and relax. Regulating your breathing in times of stress helps your body to calm down by ensuring you take in the normal amount of oxygen. Sometimes focusing too deeply on your breath can trigger anxiety, so instead try to focus on scanning your body. Notice where there is tension and take deep breaths. Withe very exhale, imagining the tension melting out of that area.
- Let out some steam: Imagine you have a balloon in your body. Now, imagine stuffing emotions down into this balloon every time you get irritated and frustrated. Just as helium balloons pop when they get full, so do the emotional balloons within us. The over
whelming feelings of anxiety and panic attacks are side effects from the popping of our emotional balloons. A good way to manage anxiety is to talk or write about your frustrations and anger so you can let out the air of the balloon and prevent it from popping.
- Work-it-out: Exercising, working-out, and physical activities are healthy ways to release anxiety and stress. During physical activities, our bodies release “happy chemicals” (neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin) which help calm the body. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, go to the gym or take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Check your calendar. Sometimes we use terms like “manage anxiety” when what we really need to do is make some hard calls in our life. Do you need to alter your work schedule? Perhaps you’ve over-committed on social engagements. Try not to sweep things under the rug and have mercy on your schedule and what you can realistically handle.
- Make tough calls. When the web of responsibilities gets tangled, it seems like everything is stressful, when in fact one or two choice areas are causing anxiety. If you need to confront an unhealthy relationship, prioritize bringing healing or relief in that area. Maybe your finances are hanging over your head. Get proactive and create a budget or make an appointment with someone for financial advising. When you take specific actions, you manage anxiety and prevent it from bleeding into the rest of your life.
If you are struggling with anxiety and you notice your relationships are being impacted, you may benefit from working with a therapist. As a therapist, I provide anxiety therapy in San Diego to help many people create healthier relationships and feel increasingly satisfied in their lives. If you can’t seem to decrease your anxiety, call today to schedule an appointment.
Sometimes processing stress and anxiety requires a little more emotional work. For more tips, check out this related article.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653