Living with chronic anxiety isn’t easy. It is exhausting. It often interferes with your daily life, interrupting your schedule, activities, and your energy level. Chances are you’re discouraged and wiped out on numerous levels from living with the pressures of chronic, severe anxiety.
But it is possible to find a way to cope and manage your symptoms. Chronic anxiety doesn’t have to define your life. No matter how long you’ve lived with it, no matter how discouraged you feel, you are bigger than your anxiety.
1. Mindfulness Practices
The idea behind mindfulness is that we can learn how to calm our bodies and our thoughts through intentional activities. By learning to pay true, deep attention to the present moment, we can teach our brains to circumnavigate the cycle of anxiety. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. You can start just by sitting quietly wherever you are.
Any form of exercise can benefit anxiety. As you’ve probably realized, anxiety goes beyond your brain. It cascades into the rest of your body, causing physical discomfort and unease.
But exercise provides help. It releases crucial endorphins that can take the edge off your anxiety. It can also offer a distraction.
Try to focus on counting the steps you take or the sounds around you. Exercise is even better if you can do it outside, where sunshine and fresh air also provide relief.
Staying connected with others can be an overlooked way of coping with chronic anxiety. But humans are social beings; we need relationships for our mental health. And when humans spend time together — talking, laughing, and bonding even in small ways — our mood and sense of well-being increases.
The body releases hormones, particularly one called oxytocin, when we connect with others. This one is often called the feel-good hormone., and it helps lessen anxiety’s effects.
4. Reframe Your Thinking
It can take practice and time, but you can teach your brain to change the way it thinks. You can learn to challenge and refute the negative thoughts that can perpetuate the cycle of anxiety. This approach is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Many books and resources are available to learn the techniques of CBT. Eventually, your thoughts will become more positive and confident, helping you better cope with your chronic, severe anxiety.
When you struggle with a chronic condition, it’s easy to get down on yourself. It’s easy to criticize yourself and let self-care fall to the wayside. But self-care in its purest form is a way to show yourself that you matter.
It doesn’t mean expensive spa treatments, shopping trips, or fancy vacations. Instead, it means being gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace. Do those things that you know your soul needs to rest. This can be different for everyone. Identify what you need and find a way to make it happen.
When It’s Time to Seek Help
In addition to these five tips, also remember the importance of therapy. Trying to push through chronic and severe anxiety on your own isn’t easy. It can wear you down, physically and emotionally.
If therapy didn’t seem to work in the past, look for someone else. Often a different personality at a different time in our life is all it takes. Each therapist has a unique style and knowledge; someone new can be a better fit for you.
If the monetary expense of therapy is an issue, look for therapists who offer payment plans or sliding scales. Your mental health is worth it. Not attending to your mental health can have enormous costs in other aspects of your life.
As a therapist with expertise in helping people with chronic anxiety, I’m here to help you get through this time. Please call my office to learn more.