Living with Anxiety and Recognizing Stressors and Reducing Stress in Your Life

Anxiety is a natural part of our human existence. For most people, living with anxiety just means dealing with nervous feelings when the bills get behind or when they have to speak before a large crowd. But for a surprising percentage of people, living with anxiety means worrying or feeling anxious more often than not. In some cases living with anxiety even means experiencing full blown panic attacks. During our lifetimes all of us can have anxious moments here and there but learning to live with anxiety and deal with it in a positive way can prevent the onset of more serious physical, mental and emotional health problems down the line.

Recognizing the Stressors in Your Life All human beings have stress in their lives. In fact stress is so much a part of everyday living that seldom do people really bother to take notice of how often in a day, a week or a month they feel stressed or under pressure. The truth is that some people lead lives that are subjected to such constant pressure from one source or a barrage of pressures from many that they are hardly able to identify separate instances of stress in their lives. For some people this stress overload can produce a more or less constant state of anxiety.

For people who want to live with and deal with anxiety in their lives it is important first to sort out what the most constant or powerful stressors are that you encounter. in your life. Trying to identify your stressors is likely to show you that stress is a very personal matter. What troubles, alarms or concerns one person may have no or little effect on someone else. Common stressors however include difficult relationships or family situations, on going issues at work or being chronically out of work, personal and family health concerns , financial worries and almost any overextension of yourself. Any one of these stressors alone could cause sustained periods of anxiety, but in our busy lives we frequently confront more than one stressor at a time. Weeding out what things are most anxiety producing in our lives and recognizing when that stress or pressure is on the rise is an important first step in learning to live with anxiety.

Reducing Stressors If recognizing your personal stressors is a good first step toward living with anxiety, then the obvious second step is devising and implementing ways to reduce the number of stressors and the way in which they invade your daily life.

You can begin to reduce the total number of identified stressors simply by bringing the words “no” or “no thank you” into your daily vocabulary more often. It’s possible to reduce stressors by refusing to over extend yourself at work, at home and in your relationships. In real life this may mean simple things like taking fewer runs to the grocery store, signing on for fewer car pool assignments, not always volunteering for overtime details. While each “no” may seem a simple act the composite result for you may be considerable less stress. Taking charge of your day, your week, your month by adding the word “no” a few times can produce a schedule that allows you to reduce your stressors and better live with your anxiety.

But controlling the total number of stressors is only part of the battle. There are some stressors which you will be unsuccessful in removing if you want to live your life normally. Dealing with these stressors means adapting your reaction to stressors and learning to see pressure as a small bump in a long road rather than catastrophizing every event into a life threatening event. The old saying that reminds us not to make a mountain out of a mole hill is more instructive for living with anxiety than we might imagine. Putting events, relationships, and whatever else stresses us into reasonable perspective can take the edge off of anxiety in our daily lives. Some people adapt the policy of setting aside certain times during the day or week devoted to worrying about issues and then working hard to deny worry or stress any entrance into the rest of their lives. Others attempt to prioritize their concerns and only deal with the most important one a day. In either case the effect is to reduce the total and sometimes overpowering effects stressors can have in our lives.

3.Substitute Relaxation for Worry Recognizing your stressors, limiting them and lowering the amount of time you spend on them are all helpful techniques for living with anxiety. You can improve on their effectiveness by adding the element of relaxation to your daily living.

Entire sections of libraries, thousands of tapes and websites are dedicated to the fine art of teaching people how to relax and live with anxiety. The problem with learning to relax is seldom a lack of resources, it is more a matter of summoning up the commitment to stick with a relaxation program. If you are really serious about lving with anxiety then you must be willing to provide yourself with regular breaks to de-stress and relax. You can choose from meditation, visualization, tai- chi, bio feedback, deep-breathing and many other relaxation techniques. But choose something, commit to it and stay with it. One day of yoga is not going to break a pattern of stress , worry and anxiety that you have established over years. Your goal is to insert the quality and quantity of relaxation into your life that will make a real difference and allow you to live with anxiety.

4. Create a Healthy Backdrop All of your best efforts to identify and reduce stressors and to build a relaxation schedule into your life can be greatly enhanced by maintain a healthy lifestyle. In general terms this means eating a balanced diet without excess, getting an appropriate amount of sleep regularly and exercising properly . And of course when you are trying to live with anxiety, care must be taken not to allow the acquisition of a health regimen to become a stressor all its own. Most physicians agree that physical and mental well being are connected, one effecting the other. Building yourself up physically and improving your overall physical condition cannot help but be reflected in your mental and emotional well being . A stronger you is better prepared to deal with and prioritize the daily stressors that you constantly confront.

5. Recognize Your Need for Medical Evaluation and Assistance. When all of your best efforts seem to be coming up short, it may be time for you to consider seeking some form of professional help. Begin with your trusted primary care physician. He or she may help you to more clearly identify and reduce your stress. A good physical exam in and of itself may reduce hidden stress you are enduring about your personal health. Your primary care physician may not be an expert in stress reduction or anxiety related problems but he or she can direct you to a list of people in your area who are.

Seeing a therapist or counselor may sound a bit overpowering to someone living with anxiety, so break the visit down to what it really is and what it can mean for you. For example, if you broke an arm and you went to your primary care physician, he or she would probably send you on to an orthopedic specialist, someone who knows bones and you wouldn’t think twice about going. You would recognize that the specialist was an excellent choice of a professional to deal with your broken bone because he had the most updated knowledge and the most experience in dealing with broken bones. If your primary care physician suggest that you see a therapist or counselor for your anxiety he is suggesting tha you see a person who is well trained and experienced in helping people living with anxiety. Working with a mental health specialist you may arrive at techniques and approaches to help you live successfully with anxiety.

There are many levels of anxiety. Some of them are low level or intermittent but others are more prevalent. There are many things we can do on our own to reduce our levels of anxiety more manageable. But we can also take advantage of the professional help that is available and make it our own. l

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