Learning to Cope With Generalized Anxiety Disorder
"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere."— Glenn Turner
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Those who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) live with a constant feeling of dread or worry. Being able to cope with anxiety is vital to living a joyful, fulfilled life. Like most mental health issues, it exists on a continuum from mild GAD all the way to severe and crippling GAD. It's important to remember that when finding ways to cope and overcoming your generalized anxiety disorder, relief will not come overnight. It can take a long time to master the art of using healthy coping skills. Understanding this can lessen the burden of trying to get better while still facing daily anxiety.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Coping Skills for Anxiety
Some ways to cope with GAD include:
- Deep breathing
Deep breathing is simply taking a long breath into your lower diaphragm and slowly exhaling. This coping skill allows for the parasympathetic nervous system to activate. The parasympathetic nervous system is what calms the body after stress, either physical or mental. After a bout of anxiety, it's a good idea to find a quiet place where you can deep breathe for about 10 minutes. Not always, but often enough this is sufficient to bring the mind and body back into a state of balance.
Not everyone with anxiety may know about aromatherapy and its benefits. By utilizing therapeutic grade essential oils, an anxiety sufferer can reap numerous benefits. Oils such as lavender and cedarwood can impart a calm feeling to the user. This is a great coping skill to use when at home. All that is needed is water, essential oils of your choosing, and a quality diffuser. Breathe deeply and enjoy its calming effects.
Exercising is one of the best coping skills for someone with GAD. No matter the form of exercise you choose, it will help calm your nervous system and thus reduce your anxiety. You can walk, run, practice yoga, or any other activity that you find enjoyable. The most important point to keep in mind is consistency. Exercise as a coping skill is most effective when consistently performed.
Sometimes it will be the upbeat music of your favorite song that can cheer you up and other times, the calming sounds of classical instrumental music. Use whichever will help you at the particular moment of your anxiety. Soft classical instrumental music is great for overall calmness, and upbeat music can be used as a great distraction.
Various types of meditation exist. Again, it doesn't matter what you choose, so as long as you decide on one and use it. Meditation as a coping skill can be very effective. As with exercise, consistency is key. This is another great way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for calming the body after stress. You can meditate anywhere or at any time. Combining meditation with deep breathing can provide even more of a relaxing response to your anxiety.
"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy."— Leo Buscaglia
The Big Picture
Using any or all these coping skills can help greatly with your generalized anxiety disorder. None of them, however, work immediately and usually they take significant practice for you to become proficient. The important thing to remember is the big picture. Life is a long journey and anxiety does not simply go away. Be kind to yourself and allow for plenty of rest and time to feel better. Using these coping skills and others can certainly help you along the way on your journey to a more joyful and fulfilling life.
"We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don't allow our bodies to heal, and we don't allow our minds and hearts to heal."— Thich Nhat Hanh
Which of the following coping skills work best for you?
Please note that I am not a medical doctor or healthcare professional. These are simply insights I have gained over the many years of coping with generalized anxiety disorder. See your physician if you have concerns about your health.
© 2018 David Cory