Got Anxiety? Read this.
Oct 30, 2014 12:16PM
By Kerry Knesl, LCSW
Your heart is pounding, you feel shaky, your palms are sweaty and your stomach is in knots—sounds like you may be experiencing anxiety! Almost everyone has felt a little anxious at one time or another, whether it is a big interview, a blind date or having to give a speech in public. Anxiety can be expected in certain life situations but can sometimes get out of hand. Here are a few techniques to help manage mild anxiety:
Practice deep breathing techniques.
Exercise—even 10 minutes of moderate exercise can help to improve your mood. Your body will produce endorphins which are the body’s feel good chemicals and reduce cortisol which is the body’s stress hormone.
Reduce caffeine and junk foods. Eliminate alcohol and drug abuse.
Take mental breaks—if you find that you are stuck with negative thoughts and are having trouble changing the channel, change your environment. Sometimes, moving to another room or taking a walk outside can help you stop your negative thoughts.
Use positive self-talk. Stop yourself when you begin to say something negative and reframe it in a more positive light.
Use meditation and positive imagery.
Prioritize your responsibilities and make lists so you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Call on your support group when you need a little extra help.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation technique which is systematically tensing and relaxing muscles.
Sometimes anxiety can become more severe or last longer than expected. Approximately 40 million adults suffer from anxiety annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety can often trigger feelings of fear, frustration and a sense of being out of control. For some, it may be hard to leave the house if it gets worse and there’s a fear of having a panic attack in public. It’s best to seek treatment before anxiety begins to affect personal relationships, work and everyday life.
Treatment for anxiety can vary depending on preference of the individual. Counseling alone or in combination with medication management can be very beneficial. Unfortunately, many individuals try to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs which only mask the symptoms temporarily and can lead to further problems. Anxiety may also occur with depression or other mental health issues which would also need to be addressed by a mental health professional.
There are several counseling techniques that can be used to ease and eliminate symptoms of panic and anxiety. Psychotherapists can help patients explore the root cause and possible triggers for their anxiety in a safe setting and teach coping strategies to reduce the anxious response. Cognitive behavioral techniques can be effective in changing distorted thoughts and unproductive behaviors connected with the anxiety. Whatever strategy your mental health professional employs, the result should be a decrease or elimination of symptoms and a calmer, happier you!
Kerry Knesl is a graduate of Florida State University, magna cum laude, with her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. She received her Master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Central Florida. Knesl has been a licensed clinician since 1999 and lives in South Tampa with her husband and three children. Her counseling practice is located at 105 South Albany Avenue, Tampa, 813-468-5858. See ad page 53.