When you have anxiety, sometimes it can be difficult to get through the day.
And with the holidays around the corner, some people with anxiety can feel pressure to feel or perform a certain way, said Jessica Borelli, associate professor of psychological science and the University of California, Irvine.
“Holiday schedules also change people’s routines. Both of these factors can increase anxiety,” she told Global News. “Sometimes anxiety can be free-floating in that it can attach itself to anything passing by rather than being focused on the actual source of fear.”
For instance, she added, someone who is anxious about seeing an ex at a holiday party may worry excessively about running out of detergent a few days before the party and not having time to buy more.
“Even though solving the detergent issue itself should be relatively simple, the worry may be a result of these larger fears rather than actual fears about logistics,” she explained. “You can identify whether this is happening to you if your worry is a shape-shifting worry. Meaning that if you get rid of one worry, it is quickly replaced with another worry.”
Make time to talk to someone
Talking to a mental health expert can help you tackle some of these larger issues you have day to day. “Allowing yourself to experience and express those larger fears to a trusted person can help you move through them and resolve them for good,” Borelli said.
And with any type of anxiety, it’s important to reach out for help. “I recommend reaching out for help when your anxiety starts to impact your daily living — your relationships, your work, your ability to manage daily tasks, or your general quality of life,” she continued.
“Or when you notice yourself engaging in or wanting to engage in unhealthy coping behaviours — drinking alcohol when you are stressed, over-exercising, restricting dietary intake, avoiding social contact, or engaging in other behavioral ‘numbing’ strategies.”
If you don’t have the option to access a professional, she also recommends reaching out to family or friends. “Talking about worries can help normalize the anxiety and cultivate the kinds of relationship connections in which negative emotions and experiences can be shared.”
5 ways to manage your anxiety
Besides taking a much-needed break, getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet, there are other ways to control your anxiety. Below, Borelli shares five things people with anxiety can do to manage it day-to-day.
Scheduling ‘worry time:’ “Promise yourself that you will put away your worries for now and come back to them later… at a predetermined time.” This time should not be right before bedtime, she added, because that could lead to a disrupted sleep. “Finding a way to confine worrying to a certain time or place can help contain the power of the worry.”
Reaching out to trusted people: “Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about the anxiety, calling an old friend to reconnect and talk about other things,” Borelli said. “Simply connecting with a trusted person could reduce your anxiety.”
Go to a place that or a person who evokes a strong sense of calm and safety: “If you can’t visit that place/person in real life, do it in your imagination.” Recall a time when you felt incredibly safe and comfortable and try to evoke those feelings again as you imagine the situation, she added.
Coming up with a list of empowering thoughts: Try to replace anxious thoughts that you have with these non-anxious, empowering ones. “These should be specific to you and should be thoughts that reliably help you relax.” You can tell yourself things like, “I can get through this, just like I’ve gotten through so many hard things before,” or, “It’s just another day in a string of days.”
Distract yourself: “Listening to music that’s relaxing or watching a funny episode will help.”
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