This is our final segment in this series on anxiety. We’ve looked at it in general terms of defining anxiety in Part 1. In Part 2, we considered how anxiety affects us in the workplace. We then looked at it in terms of relationships in Part 3. And now we’ll consider various coping methods.
In reflecting back to Part 1, I promised I would explain more about my coping methods for my fear of flying—after I board the plane. Once I’m at my seat (which I desperately try my hardest to get on the aisle), I have several magazines in tow. I put those in the seat back holder in front of me for quick access. I’m also certain to have chewing gum in my purse. Before take-off occurs, I’ll pop some gum in my mouth to frantically chomp on until we get up and leveled out for the remainder of the flight. Usually, I will also have my first magazine opened in my lap as an attempt to distract my thoughts from the fact that I’m thousands of feet in the air! Ok, enough about this topic of flying; it’s all I can handle in thinking about it for now.
Let’s discover ways others have found to be effective tools in managing anxiety. This list from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201210/coping-anxiety summarizes several strategies others have mentioned as being helpful:
- Make a problems list
One effective method of coping with anxiety that is related to a specific object or situation is to make a list of problems to overcome. Then break each problem down into a series of tasks, and rank the tasks in order of difficulty. To take a simple example, a person with a phobia of spiders may first think about spiders, then look at pictures of spiders, then look at real spiders from a safe distance, and so on. Attempt the easiest task first and keep on returning to it day after day until you feel fairly comfortable with it. Give yourself as long as you need, then move on to the next task and do the same thing, and so on. Try to adopt a positive outlook: although the symptoms of anxiety can be terrifying, they cannot harm you.
- Trust in God and His Word
In Romans 12:2 we read, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” As you learn to trust in God, you’ll see how He has the power to completely change your thought life and behavior. Go to the Lord in prayer, pour out your heart to Him—asking Him to take away your anxious feelings and bring about peace instead.
- Use relaxation techniques
If a given task or situation is particularly anxiety-provoking, you can use relaxation techniques to manage your anxiety. These relaxation techniques are very similar to those used to manage stress. One common and effective strategy, called ‘deep breathing’, involves modifying and regulating your breathing:
—Breathe in through your nose and hold the air in for several seconds.
—Then purse your lips and gradually let the air out, making sure that you let out as much air as you can.
—Continue doing this until you are feeling more relaxed.
A second strategy that is often used together with deep breathing involves relaxation exercises:
—Lying on your back, tighten the muscles in your toes for 10 seconds and then relax them completely.
—Do the same for your feet, ankles, and calves, gradually working your way up your body until you reach your head and neck.
Other general strategies that you can use for relaxing include: listening to classical music, taking a hot bath, reading a book or surfing the Internet, calling up or meeting a friend, or playing sports. As you can see, there is no shortage of things that you can do.
- Implement simple lifestyle changes
Simple lifestyle changes can also help to reduce anxiety. These might include:
—Simplifying your life, even if this means doing less or doing only one thing at a time.
—Having a schedule and keeping to it.
—Getting enough sleep.
—Exercising regularly (for example, walking, swimming, yoga).
—Eating a balanced diet.
—Restricting your intake of coffee or alcohol.
—Taking time out to do the things that you enjoy.
—Connecting with others and sharing your thoughts and feelings with them.
- Take medication
If your anxiety is especially disabling, your doctor may start you on a medication. These are not a cure for anxiety, but they can provide short-term relief from some of your symptoms. Their long-term use should be avoided because they carry a high risk of tolerance (needing more and more to produce the same effect) and dependence or addiction.
- Seek help
If you continue to suffer with severe anxiety despite implementing some of these measures, you may want to seek help through a counseling center. You can check with doctor offices or churches in your area for local centers.
The BabbCenter is a counseling ministry extension of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, Tennessee—offering an extensive staff of qualified counselors who can address this issue of anxiety as well as a host of other mental health topics with you.
To schedule an appointment, please call:
105 Music Village Blvd
Hendersonville, TN 37075