Managing chronic anxiety

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Anxiety is a negative emotional state experienced by a person when they have negative expectations (real or imaginary) or perceive an imminent threat, and feels helpless in eliminating the threat, or lacks the coping skills to deal with those negative expectations. When anxiety persists for a relatively long time, it becomes chronic anxiety or what is simply known as anxiety disorder. Anxiety is different from fear in that it persists for a relatively long time, and the sufferer anticipates something bad will happen to him or her. 

Fear is an emotion experienced by a person in the form of fight or flight when the person perceives a threat or danger, and responds immediately. A person who is afraid will escape from the threat or eliminate the threat, and afterwards discard the emotion. But a person with anxiety experiences the emotion for a relatively long time, anticipating an undesirable experience. Even if the sufferers of anxiety disorder are told that their anxieties are irrational, they still can’t help experience the negative emotion. It feels as though they are helpless in their battle against this feeling. 

Anxiety disorder, according to research, is believed to be largely genetic; this means that a person with anxiety disorder may have inherited it from one or both of their parents. The disorder can be passed down from a parent to his/her off-spring. And while most anxiety disorders have genetic links, environmental factors can also contribute to them. Examples of environmental factors that may contribute to anxiety include adverse life experiences, domestic violence, trauma, work-stress, unemployment, family problems, stigma, war, and the loss of a loved one. 

In the extreme form, anxiety may result in panic-attacks. People who experience panic attacks often feel embarrassed and deficient. There are, of course, different types of anxiety disorders. For example, phobias are a type of anxiety disorder, and there are numerous types of phobias. Acrophobia is an irrational fear of heights, agoraphobia, an irrational fear of the outdoor, claustrophobia, an irrational fear of enclosed spaces or elevators, aquaphobia, an irrational fear of drowning, and photophobia, an irrational fear of light.  

Like addictions, anxiety disorder cannot be cured or eliminated; at least there is no known cure yet. However, it can be managed. This is because anxiety, like addictions, have created new pathways in the brain, just as your hand is a structured part of your entire body. This explains why a person suffering from the irrational fear of light may find it difficult walking in the daylight, despite witnessing thousands of people basking in it. Some anxiety sufferers know that their anxieties are irrational, but just can’t help the feeling. 

Anxiety disorders can be managed, but with the intervention of a qualified psychiatrist. You may need medications and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you through the process, but I could share a few tips that you may employ in dealing with it. The best way to manage the disorder will always be through the help of a trained psychiatrist, who may carry out the proper psychiatric procedures and recommend the necessary medications that can minimize the effect it has. However, some ways to manage anxiety include 

Improve your lifestyle

Studies have found that engaging in regular physical exercises, especially aerobic exercises, such as jogging, cycling, and walking, will help lessen your anxiety feelings. Brain scan performed on some anxiety sufferers showed that their mood improved and they felt much safer after performing aerobic exercises. Eating healthily and taking enough rest also contribute to minimizing anxiety and improving your general wellbeing. 

Engage in something you love doing

Sometimes, anxieties emerge because of the thoughts that give rise to them. By engaging in something you love doing, this can help take your mind away from the thoughts that could trigger anxiety. For example, watching an enjoyable movie, listening to music, or playing a game could improve your state of mind. 

Reduce alcohol and caffeine use

Alcohol and caffeine, studies found, can aggravate anxiety feelings in sufferers. And those who experience panic disorder have a greater tendency of experiencing anxiety in higher frequency if they do not curtail their imbibing of these substances. 

Avoid perfectionism

Most perfectionists suffer anxiety; perfectionism in itself is known to contribute to anxiety disorder. Working to improve your ability or striving to better the world is a positive and admirable endeavour. However, tolerate your imperfections and constantly remind yourself that you are a work-in-progress. 

Perfectionistic parents may be sufferers of anxiety disorders, and may pass on the trait to their offspring either by nature or by nurture. If you happen to be a perfectionist, then desist from being a perfectionist; you don’t have to be perfect- you just have to make a constant effort to improve. 

Play

Studies found that a person who spends time playing with friends outdoor is abler to manage his or her anxiety problem. Therefore, go out with friends and play football, basketball, and so on; it will do you a lot of good. 

Identify the trigger

Identifying what triggers your anxiety feelings and meditating will help you gain better control of your feelings.