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Restoring Calm: Daily Habits to Reduce Anxiety

Anger is an all-consuming emotion at times, even more so now as we deal with new situations. If you don't get a grip on it, it can affect your quality of life. Anger will damage your relationships and raise your stress levels. If anger is beginning to impact your life, start taking steps to control your emotional state.

It's time to stop and discover ways to reduce anxiety in our daily lives.  While we’ve been concentrating on staying physically healthy, have we skipped over our mental outlook? Let us look at ways to restore our inner wellbeing and health.

Stress and anxiety can cause a wide range of problems. They can manifest with our body, like headaches, muscle tension, and panic attacks. It can also create issues with work, friendships, and relationships. If you ignore the signs, our stress and anxiety can result in long-term mental and physical health conditions. Using the habits listed below every day helps to reduce anxiety and stress.

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Journaling

Journaling helps you to express and make sense of your thoughts, feelings and fears. Keep a daily journal to identify negative thinking patterns that are holding you back. And the positive impact of journaling is a creativity boost and increased concentration. It has also shown to improve your memory! 

There are many ways to keep a journal. Take the time to experiment to see which methods suit you best. For setting goals and learning new skills, try a "bullet journal" style. You can write and summarize important information quickly. Try writing a longhand journal in a physical notebook. It's great for stimulating creativity! If you are more comfortable, use a journaling app on your phone or computer.

Meditation

Regular meditation provides a whole host of mental and physical health benefits. Some include stress management, improved sleep, appetite control and lower blood pressure. Mindfulness-based meditation is shown to be effective for people living with anxiety disorders.

Mindfulness may be a good option for you. It does not work for everyone, but don't be discouraged. There are plenty of other meditation types that you can try. Some people find it useful to simply focus on the breath or use a mantra to anchor their attention. You might find it difficult to focus on your own during meditation. If so, join a group, use an app, or take classes online to help train your attention.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises, particularly those that use diaphragmatic breathing are beneficial for your body. This practice is shown to reduce stress hormones in the body. They help combat the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

You can practice diaphragmatic breathing easily on your own. Lie down with one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Relax your shoulders and chest, then breathe deeply into your belly. If you are using your diaphragm properly, the hand on your belly will rise and fall as you breathe. The hand on your chest should remain still.

Yoga

For many people, yoga and other similar disciplines provide huge benefits. Your mental and physical health can improve with practice.  You don't need to learn complicated postures to benefit from this type of exercise.  The process of stretching the body can provide results. It helps to release tension, relax muscles, and increase flexibility.

If you have a health condition or feel unfit, you can try alternative options. Look for chair yoga, seated yoga, or yoga aimed at seniors. These types of yoga are gentle and adaptable to prevent discomfort.

For people living with anxiety and chronic stress, making some lifestyle changes can make a difference.   Journaling, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, and yoga can all help to reduce the symptoms. Positive results are the result of practicing every day. You may not feel much different at first, the results of these habits are cumulative. They will help to prevent other mental health problems, such as depression.

Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder is a huge problem. Low-grade anxiety and stress is beneficial in certain situations. An anxiety disorder, however, is bad. Major anxiety disorders disrupt life and lead to serious misery. Still, determining where exactly an anxiety disorder begins isn't obvious. Use the following nine indicators to determine if you might have an anxiety disorder. 


1. Excessive worry. Worry is an essential element of anxiety. Of course, worrying is also oftentimes appropriate.  Worry associated with anxiety can exaggerate the circumstances and be impossible to control. Worry that gets in the way of living a happy life is a big warning sign. Worry should not make normal functioning difficult. When worry feels like it is controlling your life, CBT treatment can help replace the negative thoughts with positive and productive ones.

2. Gastrointestinal distress. Anxiety is by no means only a mental phenomenon. Experiencing serious anxiety activates the flight-or-flight response. This response stimulates the nervous system but can disrupt normal digestive system function. Specific symptoms can include cramping, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.

3. Unrelenting anxiety. Feeling anxiety is normal. What isn't normal is always feeling anxiety. When anxiety and agitation are the result of a specific stressful situation, it can be a normal response. Dealing with continuous anxiety throughout the day is a warning sign. When the anxiety is tied to a trauma, a treatment such as EMDR can help process the memory to move forward.

4. Avoidance. Avoidance is the practice of avoiding any particular place, person, or activity that makes you anxious. It becomes an issue when doing so disrupts your life. Avoidance is a key sign that your anxiety is out of control -- it is ruling you, rather than the other way around. Avoiding things that you once enjoyed is a particularly bad sign.

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5. Sleep problems. One of the physiological manifestations of anxiety is sleep disruption. An anxiety disorder impacts the relaxation needed for good sleep. There are many potential causes for sleep troubles such as difficulty falling asleep or full-blown insomnia. An anxiety disorder is one of them to consider.

6. Muscle tension and fatigue. Anxiety often manifests itself in physical responses, such as knotted, tight muscles. The nervous system's fight or flight response causes muscles to contract. When this is the response too often, muscles will become continuously tense. Pain and fatigue will develop.

7. Difficulty concentrating. Anxiety has a way of dominating the mind. Severe anxiety leaves no room for true, deep focus. An anxiety disorder can make it difficult to finish tasks and can lower productivity at work.  A description sometimes used is a general feeling of "brain fog". Difficult making decisions and struggles with short-term memory can also result.

8. Negative thinking. Severe anxiety is often connected with an excessively negative, catastrophizing view of reality. Negative thinking in anxiety disorder sufferers will often be irrational. Nonetheless, it is hard to resist. This negative thinking will generally be inward-directed. A self-critical attitude will result, often alongside perfectionism. Many times eliminating the causes of the negative thoughts and distress, through DBT counseling, will provide the tools needed to move forward.

9. Self-consciousness. People with anxiety disorders often feel that attention is always on them. This hyper self-consciousness can display itself in constant mental comparisons to others. Someone with an anxiety disorder may display it in various ways. A person might become obsessed with their appearance or terrified of disapproval. They may also become preoccupied with social status.

These warning signs can be indicators of an anxiety disorder. It is important to understand that self-diagnosis of yourself is not possible. The trained professional counselors at Pathways Counseling Services are here for you. Our counselors can listen to your concerns and give you an expert opinion. Together, with you, we can create a course of action and treatment.  You are not alone with your anxiety.  We can help you to live an authentic and more meaningful life - a life that you deserve. We encourage you to schedule an appointment online, contact us or call our office at 480-235-1682 with any questions.

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