In today’s world, there are many sources of anxiety and quite often, the source of the anxiety cannot be changed. What can be modified is how you react to the source of the anxiety. Dealing with anxiety involves knowing the difference between the two types of anxiety, harmful and normal. Normal anxiety is something that most of us face every day. Anxiety will often stimulate the “flight or flight” response, creating high levels of fear or stress. Our ancestors were kept safe by this type of cold sweat anxiety. They would experience it when faced with danger such as a grizzly bear or another dangerous situation.
The adrenaline rush that comes with normal anxiety often helps us face danger or get away. This reaction can prepare us to face certain situations, can motivate us to make changes, or give us the energy we need to take action. For example, you may be dealing with a divorce. Anxiety will help you prepare for your interview with a divorce attorney and help you protect yourself.
Harmful anxiety occurs when we see possible threats everywhere and our body releases the “flight or fight” response when there may actually be no danger. When we believe we see danger at every turn, anxiety can begin to take a toll on our health. We may have trouble sleeping, concentrating or eating. We can experience headaches or even panic attacks. We may not be able to eat without an upset stomach. Harmful anxiety can also seem like depression, with the two often overlapping.
When anxiety becomes too overwhelming, it can begin to interfere with how we deal with everyday activities. It can begin to impact where we go and keep us from doing what we need to do. This is when we may need to seek professional counseling.
When we reach this point, we may be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder where we continually find something to worry about. We may find ourselves procrastinating until we cannot even take the first step. We do not make good decisions when dealing with overwhelming anxiety. At this point, the only way to break the cycle of anxiety is with counseling.
Seeing a therapist can provide us tools for dealing with anxiety. The therapist may introduce us to techniques to conquer anxiety. These include challenging negative thoughts, relaxation techniques, and even medication.
When you experience a negative thought that causes anxiety, ask yourself if the thought is productive. Is this thought helping you move closer to your goal? If not, then you must learn to say “Stop”. This may be difficult to do, but it is possible. Instead of allowing the negative thought to paralyze you, tell yourself that you will do what you must. Work on remembering that you are doing everything possible and now need to move forward.
Therapists will sometimes teach a person suffering from harmful anxiety how to relax using breathing techniques. These can provide very helpful to reducing the anxiety episode.
Medication is also an option for treating anxiety, but it should be done under the supervision of a doctor. When you feel anxiety is negatively impacting your ability to live a normal life, consider discussing your situation with a professional therapist or medical provider.