When people constantly feel anxious and stressed, their bodies respond in physical ways such as shutting down, stomach aches, and headaches. Many people who struggle with generalized anxiety disorder feel fatigued from constantly worrying. Self-help techniques can’t replace professional help, but they can reduce feelings of anxiety and add to an overall positive way of coping with this disorder.
Learn About the Disorder
Anyone who suffers from a mental health disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder should arm herself with knowledge about the disorder. Learn about the symptoms of the disorder, treatment options, and self-help techniques. Look through websites, read articles, and pick up some books on the topic. The more a person knows about his disorder, the more empowered he’ll feel.
Accept Lack of Control to Reduce Anxiety
There are things in life that aren’t controllable, and many times people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder worry about things that are out of their control. When a person stops focusing on things that he can’t change and turns his energy to things under his control, he’ll reduce his anxiety.
For example, a parent who worries that her teen daughter could get pregnant can’t really control whether or not it actually happens. If a teenager wants to have sex, she’ll probably find a way to do it. However, the parent can discuss sex with her teen, teach her about birth control options, and encourage her to wait until she’s in love, older, and ready for that step.
Allow Some Time for Worrying
This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s not. Allowing a period of worry each day will help to limit worry and allow the person to concentrate on other things during the day. If someone with this disorder knows that she can stress and worry for twenty minutes in the evening, she might be able to focus better at work and when she’s with friends. Don’t go overboard with this concept. Limit the worry period to about twenty minutes each day. Use a journal to get the stresses down on paper and then put them away for the rest of the night. Near the end of the twenty minutes look over the list of worries, and put circles around the ones that are controllable. Take steps to deal with those issues.
Exercise, Eating Healthfully, and Getting Regular Sleep Reduces Anxiety Symptoms
People who don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder should try to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and get eight hours of sleep each night, but people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder need to make these things a top priority. People with this disorder already put physical strain on their bodies, so they need to replenish their energy in order to concentrate at work and not feel irritable.
Fit in at least twenty minutes of exercise each day. Some people complain that they don’t have the time for exercise, and it’s just another thing to worry about, but anyone who’s serious about decreasing stress should fit it in. Some ideas include taking a walk during lunch, stashing a pair of weights under one’s desk and using them in between meetings, and doing yoga in the evening. People can break it down into two ten minute increments if they’re really hurting for time.
Practice and Implement Relaxation Techniques to Cope with Stress
People with anxiety disorders have a lot to gain from adding this to their daily routine. First, make a list of ten things that help to prevent stress. Here are fifteen examples:
- Taking a bubble bath
- Making a home-cooked meal
- Eating brunch with a friend
- Talking to a sibling on the phone
- Reading a good book
- Getting a massage
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Getting a manicure
- Watching college football
- Laughing out loud
- Taking a vacation
Each person should stick her list somewhere she’ll see it regularly and do at least one of the things from her list every day. Once someone is working on preventing anxiety, she also needs to learn relaxation techniques such as meditation or visualization to implement when feeling stressed.
To practice visualization someone simply closes his eyes and thinks about a place he feels safe and happy. For instance, someone might choose the beach. Visualization uses all the senses, so that person would try to smell the salt in the air, feel the sand beneath his toes, see the beautiful colors of the ocean, and hear the waves crashing.
Self-help techniques such as learning about anxiety, accepting lack of control, practicing healthy habits, and using relaxation techniques are a positive addition to professional treatment.