Stress Management and Anxiety Disorders
Individuals who experience anxiety are familiar with the feelings associated with having an anxiety disorder. These feelings include restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, excessive worry, sleep problems, and physiological symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, increased respiration, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.
The disorders most often associated with anxiety include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Panic Disorder/Agoraphobia. Each of these disorders are treatable and many find relief through cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or medication. Stress management techniques can also be beneficial in treating anxiety disorders, allowing individuals to calm themselves when feeling anxious and can even enhance the effects of other therapeutic interventions.
Stress on its surface is a word that means to give importance to an idea or word or to put pressure on an object. In the human realm, stress involves a state of tension arising from adverse circumstances.
Everyone feels stress throughout the day and it can be as benign as feeling cold or feeling tired. This natural stress arises because our bodies are constantly trying to find balance or homeostasis. If you get too cold, your body responds with goose bumps and shivering in an attempt to keep you warm. Outside of these naturally occurring stressful states, emotional stress is a bit different.
If an individual becomes overwhelmed with feelings of stress due to unforeseen circumstances, then the individual can experience stress on an emotional level, which can interfere with daily functioning.
Stress can produce physical and psychological symptoms, which may make it difficult for the individual to cope. Individuals with anxiety disorders feel stress as well; however, their anxiety is actually a reaction to the stress.
The ability to manage stress for those with anxiety disorders is very important since stress can exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety. Stress management techniques help to not only reduce the level of stress but also help to reduce the feelings associated with anxiety; therefore, serve a dual purpose. The following techniques can help to alleviate stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Eating well-balanced meals, not skipping meals, and avoiding caffeine and sugar, can help to reduce stress. Sugar and caffeine increase heart rate and can intensify feelings of anxiety.
Try to get restful sleep each night. Sleep helps to heal the body and feelings of stress and anxiety can overwhelm the body.
Deep breathing exercises are helpful in relaxing the body and the mind. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth are the cornerstone to effective deep breathing. You can practice many times throughout the day especially when feeling overwhelmed.
Exercise has many physical and psychological benefits including helping you feel better and maintaining your health. A brisk 10-minute walk can work wonders on reducing feelings associated with stress and anxiety.
Attitude and Perspective
A positive attitude can help reduce stress by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. Keep in mind that your perception of a stressful event can also help to reduce the negative feelings associated with stress.