At some point, anxiety and stress affect everyone. They can manifest in a variety of ways in different people, and the intensity one experiences may fluctuate, but the bright side is that there are ways to manage our reactions to stress and pursue Active Wellness.
People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and feel it is beyond their control.1 They often realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants, but they can’t help how they feel. Anxiety disorders may relate to low tolerance of uncertainty and the unknown. Many people with GAD try to plan or control situations. At times, anxiety can cause people to struggle with physical symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches.
When anxiety levels are mild to moderate, people with GAD can function socially, lead full lives and work effectively at their jobs. Many with GAD may avoid certain situations because they are worried about having an anxiety attack under those specific circumstances. This can be a social situation, travel, giving a presentation/speech, etc. When anxiety is intense, some people can have difficulty performing the simplest daily activities.
Here are some practical tips for preventing or dealing with stress and staying in Active Wellness:
- Take breaks throughout the day. Do stretches, listen to music, meditate, give yourself a massage—these are all ways to relax and help clear anxious thoughts from your mind.
- Eat well-balanced meals. If your body is in a satisfied state, your mind has a better chance of staying calm. Do not skip meals, and do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Alcohol and caffeine can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks, so minimize their consumption.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. On the other hand, lack of sleep can cause stress!
- Exercise is a known stress buster, so incorporate it into your daily routine. When you make time for it consistently, exercise becomes a daily treat to look forward to.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. This procedure can even shorten the duration of an anxiety attack.
- Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, aim for completion. And, congratulate yourself!
- Put your stress into perspective: Is it really as bad as you think? Accept the reality that you cannot control everything. What you can learn to control is how you react.
- A good laugh goes a long way. So, don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Make a concerted effort to think positively. Negativity is a habit that can be broken with effort.
- Focus on the present. Doing so can help manage thoughts and feelings. Thinking about unpleasant past experiences and fearing what might happen are all triggers for anxiety.
- Stress itself does not cause anxiety but adds to it. You may need to confront your fears, learn new facts about your symptoms, learn tolerance for some experiences, or change how you think, feel, and behave. It takes time, but with practice, you can break the pattern of anxiety.
Health awareness takes on many forms, and managing stress is just one part of Active Wellness. We can do it!