The word Anxiety is often used lightly as if it is just another synonym for stress. It is a bit annoying, but it may be related to, because, hey, do we all feel this way from time to time? However, the real anxiety goes far beyond that. According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety is a serious and debilitating mental health problem that affects approximately 40 million people in the United States each year. That is 18.1% or close to one-fifth of the population.
Although anxiety may be due to multiple causes (genetics, brain chemistry, traumatic life events), it is still considered to respond very well to treatment, although only 36.9% of people suffer from anxiety and they seek professional help. Dr. Meghan Marcum, the mission chief psychologist at the Michael Mental Health Treatment Center, even brings hope to those who are unwilling (or unable) to receive treatment. She said that,
“As long as you make a few changes to your daily work, it will make a big difference.”
Stay In The Moment
According to Marcum, “When we are anxious there is essentially too much worry going on in our minds, usually about the future.” She suggested that the first step in controlling anxiety is to pay close attention to the direction our thoughts are heading.
She said that it is just a waste of time and energy to occupy your mind with brooding or fretting over anything you can’t control, and there’s a lot you can’t control like the weather, the state of the nation, your team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl, an unexpected worldwide pandemic. Marcum recommends that “you reorient your thoughts in the present moment and pay attention to what you control throughout the day.”
Take Deep Breaths
Marcum said that anxiety affects not only our thoughts but also our body. She said some of the reasons it can develop are muscle tension, an upset stomach, feeling “on edge,” a fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath. And to reduce anxiety rather than letting physical symptoms panic, he said to understand your internal conditions.
One quick technique that he vowed to calm was diaphragm breathing. Marcum says that all you need to do is “take a deep breath through your nose, then slowly release through your mouth.” Repeat, concentrating on each breath until you begin to feel no tension. Marcus said this type of breathing “helps lower heart rate and blood pressure,” adding that “it can quickly help relieve anxiety symptoms.”
Take Time To Relax
To prevent the build-up of anxiety, Marcum said it’s important to be proactive and prepare for relaxation activities during the week. She especially suggested that, at least in the short term, you should separate yourself from technology and media, because the world is already a stressful place and always “connecting” doesn’t really help.
In contrast, Markum recommends activities such as meditation, exercise, gardening, massage, or hot baths. She also said that “you should take time each day to unwind and relax and choose an activity that suits you and make sure you plan for 20 minutes a day.”
Don’t Give Up On Finding Help
If self-management skills are not enough to alleviate your anxiety, please don’t neglect the idea of seeking professional help. As Marcum puts it, “If anxiety symptoms cause your work or relationships to be interrupted, it may be a good idea to seek professional help,” adding that “you may be surprised to find that you can make such rapid progress in dealing with anxiety and mental health experts.” As for how to seek professional help, Marcum recommends calling your insurance company or you can try to browse their website or get a referral from your primary care doctor.
If you don’t have enough health insurance and funds are tight, this does not mean that you cannot get help. The American Anxiety and Depression Association has a tool to help you find a therapist in your area and states that many health professionals will provide variable fees based on the following circumstances. They also recommend that you seek low-cost treatment in federally funded medical centers or even colleges and universities where students graduated.
They may provide consulting services at discounted prices to gain experience in the field. If you need anti-anxiety medicine, check out the patient assistance programs offered by many major pharmaceutical companies. If you qualify, you can get medicines at affordable prices or even free of charge.