Anxiety: What is it and What Can We Do About it?

We have all heard about anxiety, but what is it exactly? The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes within the body”. Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed disorders in the world, so if you have been diagnosed with anxiety or experience symptoms of anxiety, please know that you are not alone!

I think it is safe to say that most (if not all) of us have endured some form of anxiety in the past few years. The world around us seems to be more overwhelming and it is easy to fixate on the stress and get stuck thinking about the worst case scenario. If you’re like me, you might find yourself worrying about the unknown or things that seem out of your control. 

So if anxiety is so common, what can we do to help ourselves and others who might be struggling with or experiencing anxiety? Here are some helpful tools I like to share with clients and practice myself.

  1. Breathing and Mindfulness Exercises. These exercises promote relaxation, help clear thoughts, and bring awareness to the present moment. Try looking into square breathing and body scanning
  2. Engage with friends, family, and hobbies to distract yourself. Distractions help you reset your attention to something pleasant instead of focusing your energy on an upsetting emotion. It has been an isolating few years with the pandemic so maybe look into starting a book club, pod squad, or engage in a hobby you have always been interested in! 
  3. Journaling or writing in a diary. Writing can be a powerful tool to help release emotions, check in with yourself and your emotions, and allow a safe space for your thoughts to leave your head. 
  4. Eating healthy and caring for your body. Food and how we fuel our bodies has a big impact on our mental health and emotional well-being. Try some fun new healthy recipes, share them with friends and family!
  5. Talk to someone. It is easy to feel alone or judged by those around us. Seeking professional help can assist you in uncovering the underlying causes of anxiety and empower you to make positive and healthy changes. 

Know that nothing is wrong with you for having or experiencing anxiety. Do yourself a favor, check in with yourself and others, surround yourself with a healthy support system and always know it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to not be okay!

Written by: Amy Bassarear, LCSW

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