By Vladimir Marchenko
- What is anxiety
- The causes of anxiety
- Anxiety assessment
- How to manage anxiety
- Five quick ways to deal with anxiety
- 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique
- Other treatments for anxiety
What is anxiety
Anxiety is a special psychological state, expressed in a person's tendency to experience fear, concern, nervousness for any reason, from insignificant to serious. The strength and duration of anxiety depends on heredity, temperament, nervous processes, and other personality factors. S. Freud was one of the first who identified anxiety as a separate state. In his opinion, anxiety acts as a signal for the "Ego" about impending danger and is expressed in safe reactions (the experience of uncertainty and a feeling of helplessness).
Anxiety can act as a long-term disorder (generalized anxiety disorder, phobias) or short-term, including panic attacks. In both cases, it can lead to psychological problems. In the mental component, this manifests itself as follows:
- escaping from situations that cause negativity;
- violation of sleep and rest;
- changing habits;
- problems with social communications;
- trouble concentrating;
- irritability, nervousness;
- expectation of the worst scenario;
- fear for life and health, one's own and / or loved ones, etc.
Physically, the following signs could be noticed:
- nervous tics (eye twitching, tapping foot, hand-wringing);
- loss of appetite or binge eating;
- digestive problems;
- rapid heartbeat and breathing;
- redness of the skin, etc.
The causes of anxiety
Sometimes anxiety is an adequate response of the body to impending threats or a signal of internal problems. In more severe cases, social and psychological factors are superimposed on the innate features of the nervous system. Often, anxiety reflects the following psychological and physical disorders:
- Disadvantages of upbringing and social environment. Overprotection, constant external criticism and bullying can cause anxiety disorder that will not go away even in adulthood.
- Genetic predisposition. Anxiety disorders can be inherited, so if there are people with "nervous" diseases in the family, the likelihood of a similar scenario repeating is pretty high.
- Traumatic situations, both mentally and physically. You've probably heard stories about racers who, after a serious accident, could not get back behind the wheel, or about football players who are injured and unable to return to the field, both psychologically and physically. And equally about participants in hostilities, survivors of violence, etc. Anxiety can spread to loved ones and friends.
- Accumulating stress. Mental and psychological overload, conflicts and fears drain the nervous system and develop anxiety.
- Hormonal Disorders. A malfunction of the endocrine glands leads to changes in hormonal levels. This provokes instability of the nervous system.
- Improper nutrition, vitamin deficiency, taking certain medications. With a lack of nutrients, metabolic processes in the body are disrupted. Lack of glucose, B vitamins or magnesium can also be causing anxiety.
- Other causes of anxiety are lack of physical activity (imbalance between mental and physical activity), brain damage, somatic diseases.
The level of anxiety is assessed in different ways. The Spielberger-Khanin scale of anxiety is often mentioned, but there are many others (Kondash, Beck, Zang, Prikhozhan). They are mainly based on self-assessment of the current state. The test taker reads the proposed statements and gives points that most closely match the inner experiences. The Spielberger-Khanin test is unique in this sense, since it allows you to assess both personal (general) anxiety and situational anxiety (at a certain moment).
For children, their own assessment options are provided. For example, the Scale of explicit anxiety for children (The Children’s Form of Manifest Anxiety Scale, CMAS), Dorky, Phillips, Romitsina method. In children's tests, there are usually yes-no answers or funny-sad faces. There are also expert assessments, such as the Sears test, which are performed by a teacher or a school psychologist who knows the child well.
How to manage anxiety
If anxiety is one of the main character traits, it is rather difficult to eradicate it, therefore they usually talk about correcting anxiety. A more accurate diagnosis and, accordingly, a method of correction is established by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, depending on the severity of the condition. You can start with some individual practices:
1. Improving self-esteem. Listening to affirmations is considered one of the most accessible methods of self-persuasion. These are verbal formulas with statements aimed at strengthening self-confidence. The original solution is offered by the Hypnopedia project. In this mobile application, affirmations are played during the user's sleep, but do not wake them up and do not require conscious perception. The optimal time for playing them is selected based on the data received from the Apple Watch sensors. The motivating statements are broken down into different topics. As a result, the user improves mental health, including lowering the level of anxiety. In addition, there are sounds for falling asleep to help you fall asleep more calmly and a smart alarm clock for waking up easily in the morning.
Download here for free:Ссылка App Store
2. Self-analysis allows you to understand the sources of anxiety, often carried out with the help of a psychologist. After such sessions, for example, you can stop fearing the future or possible scenarios. Sometimes an action plan is drawn up to help achieve what you want without psychological overload.
3. Changes in the environment. It is possible that the reason for anxiety is a toxic environment, working too hard, uncomfortable living conditions, lack of desires. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze external factors from time to time and harmoniously combine them with the internal state.
4. Meditation and yoga are considered universal means of minimizing anxiety. These include breathing practices, muscle relaxation, and concentration on a single object. It is not always possible to achieve concentration from the first try, but you should strive for this and gradually master the art of meditation.
5. Proper sleeping and resting schedule. A hectic lifestyle can also cause internal anxiety. In this case, the body experiences stress and fails to adapt to a stable routine. You should go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time even on weekends, sleep at least 6-8 hours depending on age, have balanced meals (and also have an eating schedule), etc.
6. Work on your self-confidence. Learn not to worry about what happened, cultivate the ability to compromise, create comfortable conditions for the body and soul, do not shut down, and also find an outlet in hobbies, sports, relaxation in nature.
Five quick ways to deal with anxiety
If anxiety is sporadic, it can be brought under control fairly quickly. Especially if it is connected with one-off situations.
Focus on breathing
Such tactics as proper breathing are always accessible. To calm down, just inhale for four counts, and then exhale for 4 counts. By balancing your breathing, you can reduce your heart rate and calm yourself down. The 4-7-8 technique, which we talked about in the article How to go to sleep quickly? Your best sleep and many other breathing techniques, examples of which can be found on the Internet and selected for yourself could be helpful, as well.
Incense, an aroma lamp, or an aroma candle is a great antidepressant to relieve anxiety after just a few breaths. The scents of lavender, chamomile and sandalwood are especially suitable for relaxation therapy.
Go for a walk for at least 15 minutes
Pay attention not to the mind, but to the body, because movement and fresh air have a beneficial effect in the most confusing circumstances.
Describe in detail everything that bothers you
As you know, paper will endure everything. Sometimes you need to throw out any emotions on a white sheet, then run through it with your eyes and throw it into the trash can, like thoughts from your head.
Change "minus" to "plus"
Give your thoughts a positive direction, even if things are really bad. Analyze and play the situation in your favor.
5-4-3-2-1 coping technique
To get rid of anxiety, they often recommend a technique that allows you to switch each of your senses to something else. You should start with a few slow deep breaths, and then do the following:
Step 5. Look around and concentrate alternately on five surrounding objects, people, actions. For example, a pen, a computer, a colleague making a copy, a painting on a wall, a flower on a window.
Step 4. Find four things around that you want to touch. Sweater collar, phone case, soft toy, photo frame.
Step 3. Select three sounds from the ambient noise and focus on each of them. Singing birds, the noise of the air conditioner, the melody in the headphones.
Step 2. Breathe in two environmental scents. This could be the smell of a candle, cooked food, or soap.
Step 1. Stop at one product that you want to try. New salad, chewing gum, ice cream.
Other treatments for anxiety
Along with natural methods for getting rid of anxiety, medications are often recommended (complex treatment).
! Remember that any medication for anxiety should only be taken on the basis of the physician’s advice and within the indicated dosages !
If we are talking about herbal remedies, then peony, St. John's wort, hawthorn, hops, valerian, tincture of ginseng, eleutherococcus, chamomile extract, passionflower, lemon balm are a good fit. They are sedative and sometimes cause excessive sleepiness.
Thus, an integrated approach should be taken in order to manage anxiety. In some cases, it is not so easy to get rid of anxiety, but sometimes you can quickly review what is happening with you and the world around you in order to understand — is not worth it.