Our parish nurse Jan Sandos provides us with a monthly column keeping us informed of pertinent medical information.
Philippians 4:6—“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Ways to Alleviate Ongoing Anxiety
To some degree, anxiety is helpful. Before taking a test or giving a presentation at work, for example, anxiety can motivate you to prepare and perform at your best. But when anxiety sticks around, becomes your brain’s go-to response to stressors big or small and interferes with your job or your home life, it’s a problem. Compared with men, women are 60% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder. Many of us are in a constant state of red alert, overreacting to everything coming at us.
There are several types of anxiety conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder, marked by excessive worrying; panic disorder, with recurrent panic attacks as its main symptom; and social anxiety disorder, which is anxiety related to performance, such as a fear of public speaking. But no matter how anxiety affects you, you can do something about it—preferably the sooner, the better.
The longer you let an anxiety disorder go, the more severe it can become and the harder it becomes to treat. It’s important to get on top of things before they get out of control.
Listed below are some things you can do to get relief and create a treatment plan that can help you feel better fast, based on the severity of your symptoms.
- Exercise your options. Hit the gym, take up yoga, or go jogging or walking regularly. Physical activity can work as well as medications to reduce minor anxiety symptoms. Just five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
- Take a micro timeout. Using a vacation day or getting a break from the kids can help you regain your mental equilibrium. And sometimes just taking 15 – 20 minutes to stop, breathe, and think about what you’re feeling can help you feel less anxious. There is a meditation app called “Stop, Breathe, & Think” for your cell phone that helps users create their own sense of peace when they’re stressed or upset, with five to six minutes of mindfulness meditation.
- See your doctor. If your anxiety continues to be a problem, it could possibly be related to some medical condition, such as an overactive thyroid, that can cause anxiety or make it worse. If you don’t have an underlying issue, your doctor may suggest seeing a psychotherapist, which can be extremely helpful. Be sure to find a therapist you like; having a good relationship with your therapist will be most helpful. Some people feel that seeing a therapist may be too embarrassing or that it makes you seem too weak to handle your problems. But these are medical issues we are talking about, and seeking treatment for this is no different than seeking treatment for any physical illness.
- Seek relief with prescription medication. If your anxiety is severe, your doctor may prescribe medication. There are many different medications effective for anxiety. Most of them take 4 – 12 weeks to start working, so don’t expect overnight results. But in the meantime, your doctor may also prescribe temporary medications that can provide immediate symptom relief. They can provide a bridge until the other medications kick in.
Taken from “Spirit of Women, Summer 2016