How to Deal with Anxiety

Remember Pooja? It was her birthday, and she had plans for the night with her friends. She was happy, yet there was a sinking feeling in her chest. She was extremely nervous as if all this could end at any moment.

It was 6:30 PM and she picked the best dress from her closet and added a pair of high heels to make her look a little taller. She changed into the outfit and started putting on the makeup. Halfway through, she looked into the mirror and felt she was looking okay.

She continued her makeup and put on a lighter shade of lipstick than she would usually put on, mentally rationalizing her choice - just in case someone questions it.

She’s ready to go with a clutch bag matching her dress. She finally looks into the mirror again and feels she looks okay but tensed that despite all the effort she does not look pretty. She crosses her finger before leaving, hoping everything goes well.

Pooja arrives at the venue where her group is busy taking pictures. She hesitates about the photo session thinking it could be an interruption. She is afraid that she could annoy her friends and waits until one of them notices and calls her.

During dinner, she eats carefully ensuring the crumbs don’t stick to her lips. After the main course, she waits for her friend to finish because she is too anxious to get the dessert 20 feet away. When everything is done, she carefully measures her steps towards the counter, back of her head, she knows all eyes would be on her. It would make an awkward situation if she stumbled.

She comes back home sends a text to the friends’ group and waits for a reply. A minute passes, no reply.. 10 minutes, no reply, 20 minutes ..no acknowledgment for the treat.

She starts becoming uncomfortable, insecure, and anxious.

What if I did not pick the right venue?

Did I offend them?

Do they hate me?

Are they ever going to reply to me?

Did something happen to them?

A message notification breaks the thought train. She trembles as she opens the messaging app to read the text … “It was all good”.

Pooja sighs and wonders what is wrong with her. Pooja spends rest of the night thinking about herself. Thoughts about her look, about the need to organize the treat, and about her life. Despite all her education and upbringing why does she still feel all this? She second-guesses all her decisions.

When she’s done with overthinking she questions her over-analysis as if she could be faking her emotions for her attention. The questioning does not stop though!

“Why am I like this?”

“Why am I not her?”

“I should try hard!”

“I am such a loser!”

Small daily worries, constant flight or fight mode, intrusive thoughts, and nervousness are everyday battles for someone dealing with anxiety. All of this happens out of nowhere, without a warning.

Anxiety never leaves you alone. For Pooja, there is a constant grapple with a silent voice, always reminding her of things that could go wrong. She gasps for each breath, the world appears to be closing on her, and she feels trapped, falling into an abyss of doom.

For Pooja, it appears to be an endless curse, a cruel punishment. There is no fever, no rashes, and no injury to send people scurrying in concern. A gradual erosion of self, as insidious as a termite, it is a lonely experience.

How to deal with this emotion? Let us hear from experts on :

How to deal with Anxiety?

“Everyone has stress in their lives. Not everyone responds to stress in the same manner. Anxiety management needs to address the level of anxiety each person experiences. Too much anxiety is not healthy physically or mentally. One needs to determine how much anxiety they are experiencing and take steps to reduce it.

The level of anxiety one experiences will determine the extent of steps one needs to take to reduce it if the anxiety is interfering with day-to-day functioning then professional help may be necessary. For less anxiety or just daily well-being, exercise, meditation, social support, and partaking in enjoyable activities is warranted.”

Janet Mueller

“Anxieties arise out of our thoughts which are again based on our perception and belief system.

  1. A person needs to acknowledge that he is anxious.

  2. Understand why is he or she anxious ( Trigger)

  3. Analyse where is the Trigger coming through.

  4. Differentiate whether is just a Mirage/factoid or Genuine.

  5. If the trigger is Genuine then understand what is controllable and what is not controllable

Controllable Genuine anxiety Students are anxious before exams, they need to work on study plans and engage professional help if required like hiring a maths tutor for a particular subject, etc. which in turn enhance self-confidence and esteem and eventually reduce their anxiety.

Uncontrollable Genuine anxiety.

In the above example if a student develops anxiety that a paper might come difficult or computer breakdown might happen or any other extraneous reasons like a pandemic then as part of CBT we counsel that

  1. There is an equal probability for the best and worst events to happen.

  2. Assign your favorite color to the best and any other color to the worst.

  3. Write in your favorite color the following positive affirmations in big Font and see the color tell to yourself as many times as possible.

I can do the best

I will do the best

I am doing best

What if Anxiety Is just Mirage or a factoid?

Anxiety arising out of Mirage leads to catastrophic phobic thoughts and often needs structured behavioral therapy like a combination of Dialectical behavioral therapy and Neurolinguistics programming.

For example, if Neena’s friend’s mother was detected with cancer

Many a time anxiety might be the outcome of underlying Psychiatric conditions like obsessive compulsion disorder schizophrenia, acute depression, and other neurological disorders like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.

For example what if Neena’s friend’s mother detected cancer then if Neena developed anxiety out of factoids or mirages thought like

What if my mother gets cancer?

What if she dies?

What if my father died?

What will happen to me?

What if I get into depression?

What if I had to discontinue everything?

The infinite what if is called catastrophic thinking which is a cognitive distortion and leads to endless anxiety. In such cases, cognitive behavioral therapy like Dialectical behavioral therapy and Neurolinguistics linguistic programming help Neena in Reframing her thoughts and rehaul her perception and belief system.”

Jayasri Tangirala

“First of all, I believe identifying anxiety is the first step. The general symptoms are a sense of dread or fear that may or may not be linked to a particular source. This fear can be felt in the background whilst we go about our day-to-day actions. Palpitations, increased heart rate and faster breathing, insomnia, and mental and physical fatigue, especially when anxiety has been experienced for extended periods.

Several techniques can be used to alleviate anxiety. Journaling is great to siphon off the excess thoughts from the mind. Deep breathing techniques can be used whilst sitting, lying down, or taking slow steps. Meditation is great for resetting the mind and giving mental relief and helping relax. A good diet and exercise will help with good quality sleep, to help with anxiety and fatigue. Yoga is great as it combines deep breathing and moving the body and helps be present.

I help professionals with anxiety to overcome it and guide them to gain crystal clarity in their lives, to expose their real potential. I love to work with clients and their personal development to reach their goals.

I overcame anxiety and depression with my research and now understand my potential. And this is why I now help professionals do the same.”

Shaheda Daya

“Anxiety management is best dealt with by a licensed Clinical Psychologist who knows the clinical picture of a disorder, personality patterns, and dynamics involved in the condition.

It usually starts with detailed case history which gives a deep understanding of the onset, responsible factors for the condition, and any hereditary and supporting factors in the treatment.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is the most used Psychotherapy in the management of anxiety and related disorders. CBT needs regular weekly sessions Upto 3months or more depending upon personality type, psychosocial factors, and therapy compliance.

After regular therapy sessions, we usually put clients on maintenance therapy to prevent relapse in the future.”

Shweta Sharma

“Willing things that cannot be willed create anxiety. Can’t sleep, can’t remember, can’t will an erection. Stage fright is also anxiety. Pretending that you are someone you are not.

The organ of the will is the musculature. If I want you to like me, I’ll be anxious — either you will or you won’t, I can’t make you!

Learn to be willing, stop being willful, and you won’t generate anxiety.”

Andrew Feldmar

“Anxiety is an extremely common difficulty faced by many but going under-diagnosed or recognized. Managing anxiety requires combinations of the following :

regular exercise, healthy food and sleep habits, relaxation practices, mindfulness, acceptance, knowing one’s strengths and limitations, willingness to face consequences of our choices, dealing with perfectionism, overcoming vulnerability, and challenging negative thoughts.”

Sudipta Roy

That’s all in this edition.

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