How to Cope with Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined in the mental health field as “a mental condition characterized by excessive apprehensiveness about real or perceived threats, typically leading to avoidance behaviours and often to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and muscle tension.”

Yet, I see anxiety as a place of the mind that has many thoughts and emotions. It is where we worry, stress, and even feel nervous. Anxiety causes tense feelings, whether that causes physical reactions such as a tight chest, tense muscles, or even pacing. 

I think all of us deal with anxiety. Personally, I do not see anxiety as a mental condition but an area in life that is hard to deal with.

Do you deal with anxiety every day? Or is it stress?

Difference between Anxiety and Stress.

There are SO many ways to cope with anxiety. It can even feel overwhelming to start to consider how to cope, which might even cause more stress and anxiety.

So what do you do? 

How often do you hear about deep breathing or grounding? Probably to the point of not wanting to listen to those techniques. Yet, they are some of the most natural and easiest ways to bring down your heart rate, ease the tension in your chest and relax your muscles.

A TedTalk YouTube video explains it further and walks you through deep breathing. Check it out if you are interested: Breath—five minutes can change your life.

Another option is journaling, which allows you to put your thoughts in writing and, in a sense, release the thoughts from running in circles in your mind. 

So, what does that really mean? 

It allows you to look back at your thoughts when you are not overwhelmed by emotions to see if you agree with them or can see a better way to adjust them. Basically, rewrite your story.

How do you start coping with anxiety?

Generally, there are two paths: a psychologist or a psychiatrist. A psychologist is in a private practice, which means the assessment for the diagnosis comes with a cost, and there is a broad range of options for fees. As for a psychiatrist, you would see your GP (family doctor) to receive a referral. A psychiatrist is covered by OHIP if you live in Ontario. There is no fee. However, generally, there is a long waiting list.

One can receive a diagnosis from their family doctor, a pediatrician and nurse practitioners as well. This is a valid diagnosis. However, it does not necessarily assist in areas of accommodations in workplaces or schools.

But wait...there's more?

Often, when dealing with anxiety or general anxiety disorder (GAD), it truly does help to see a therapist who can help you look deeper into the cause, meaning, and ways to move forward more positively in your life.

These quick explanations provide ideas and ways to work through our anxiety and stress. Yet, it is often only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ that needs more searching and guidance. 

If you really struggle with anxiety and stress, please reach out for mental health support. A therapist should be able to help you do this based on your unique lifestyle, preferences, and situation.