Generalized anxiety. What is it? According the National Institute of Mental Health, it is “extreme worry or nerves about every day things, even when there is little reason to worry about them.”
But according to Robin Bauer, a licensed Clinical Social Worker, anxiety can feel more like, “a roaring lion standing inches before you, but you are unable to run away.”
I was thankful for this visual that Bauer offered, because sometimes a medical description cannot do a feeling justice. I began to realize that at times, I have faced this roaring lion in life too.
While there are many solutions to reducing anxiety, there are particular methods that a professional like Bauer would recommend. Whether you are a college student fretting over exams and workload or a person struggling to stop worrying over every day life, these following tips may help you.
**The first that Bauer suggested is a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This technique is geared toward those having trouble falling asleep at night due to excessive worry. But, this method can be used when you feel your body is tense from worry and you need to relax during the day.
You start by making a mental checklist of all the muscle groups in your body. Then, beginning down by your toes, clench them for a number of seconds, and then release them to a fully restful state. Keep working your way up your body, repeating the process, until you’ve reached the top of your head.
By the end, your entire body should feel loose and your mind more at ease.
**The second major tip Bauer offered is deep, intentional breathing. As cliché as it may sound, deep breaths truly are a great way to slow down the mind, the breath, and improve mental clarity. To begin, sit up straight and inhale for 4 seconds from the diaphragm. Hold at the top for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhale for 8 seconds, pushing out all the air in your lungs.
Repeat this process several times until your breathing feels slow and natural. Remember to count the seconds in your head. The task of counting can help take your mind off of anxious, negative thoughts and onto the task instead.
**Lastly, Bauer suggests that if anxiety becomes an all-encompassing part of your life, it’s best to seek some professional help. Chances are you’ll have a lot more to let go of than you thought! Many people see a therapist for varying lengths of time, depending on their situation. There is no shame in needing help; we could all use it once in a while.
Now that I’ve gained some information from a professional, I thought it would be worthwhile to talk to ordinary people dealing with generalized anxiety.
Olivia and Rachel are two college students who admit to feeling worried more than they should.
“It’s a hard thing to reel in. Before I know it, I’m off on a worry tangent in my mind,” explains Olivia. “But I know all the worry is not even worthwhile at the end of the day.”
Rachel admits, “I have definitely gotten it under control within the last few months, thanks to a lot of time and effort put in. I’ve really had to retrain my brain, though.”
Both agreed that being in college has put an extra layer of worry on at times. While they feel fulfilled and accomplished, they cannot help but give in to anxious thinking from time to time. If you feel a similar way, their advice on how they reduce anxiety might help.
1. Write out your thoughts in logs: “When I’m having especially anxious spells, I keep logs of anxious thoughts I have throughout the day. At the end of the day, I look back at what I wrote and find alternative, positive thoughts for each. It really puts things into perspective.”
2. Aromatherapy: “I’m a big fan of essential oils. They are not for everyone, but there are some great ones for soothing the nerves, like peppermint and eucalyptus. I keep them in these roller bottles and take some deep breaths of the smell or roll it on my skin. It is a grounding experience as well as a natural remedy.”
1. Join an online forum or support group: “We have a support group on campus that I attend occasionally. It helps to know that others are going through similar issues. I’ve also found online communities that are like support groups. You can talk about your day or things that made you particularly anxious and others can chime and offer advice.”
2. Positive talk out loud: “It may sound silly, but I’ve found that saying a positive thought out loud affirms it more in my mind. I do this when I’m alone in my dorm or in my car. It can change my whole mindset within a matter of minutes. The anxious thoughts might still return, but at least I have an affirming statement I can repeat to myself. That, or singing alone in the car always helps!”
Since talking with both, I’ve begun to implement their tips and can say they all work wonderfully. Knowing that this advice comes from their personal experience makes it even better.
I hope that if you are standing before the “roaring lion” in your life, you found the advice in this post helpful. Comment below if you try any for yourself and let me know how they work! Hopefully you will go from anxiety to bliss :).