If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you aren't alone. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illness' in the United States. 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. This is 18% of the population.

If you have an anxiety disorder, you know it's no fun. Constantly in a state of worry or even fear. It's not that unusual to feel anxious before an exam or a big project at work. But, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, then you know the anxiety doesn't go away.

Maybe, you've already seen a Psychiatrist and have tried medication. Or, you've seen a therapist and have tried to talk about it. There are also many helpful workbooks and websites. I find a combination of all of these can help. You can also add some self-care to the formula. Here are seven tips to help take care of yourself when you have anxiety:

  1. Try shifting your focus. Get up and go for a walk. The fresh air will help clear your mind. Take a good look at your surroundings. If there are flowers around, stop and look at them. Notice all the details of the flower. This will help take your mind off what you are having anxiety about.
  2. Keep a journal. Start to take note of what is happening when you feel the anxiety starting. Did someone say something that triggered you. Did it start in the morning or the afternoon? Was there a loud noise? What was the lighting like? It's important to be aware of your surroundings and know when you need to take a break from them. You can also keep track of all the things that are going well in your journal. This will help you remember the good times. Look back on it when you are feeling bad.
  3. Invite a friend to coffee. It's important to have friends that you trust and that know you have an anxiety disorder. The next time you feel anxious call a friend and invite them to have coffee. Talking about anxiety is very helpful. Sometimes, you just need a good friend to listen.
  4. Take a bubble bath. If you have ever felt that terrible sensation of your heart beating fast, dizziness, sweating and sheer panic. Then, you may know warm water is very soothing, not only to the body but to the mind. Light a candle and relax. If a bubble bath is not a priority in your life right now, then you should make it one. This is a great way to conquer anxiety.
  5. What feeds your soul? Make time for doing the things you love. If you love concerts, then plan to go to them. Invite a friend. If you love reading, then make time for it. This is a great time to try some of the things you have always wanted to try. Take an art class, join a hiking group or take a tropical vacation. Spend time in the sun. The vitamin D is good for you. There's nothing worse than feeling like you don't have any joy in your life. 
  6. Thinking flexibly. Pay attention to your thought process. Are you someone who thinks in black and white? If so, now is the time to start thinking is shades of grey. Start by trying to understand where your thoughts are coming from and recognize your thinking traps. Don't live in the past or try to predict the future. In life we get many 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on, chances. People that think in shades of grey, feel better about themselves and the world they live in.
  7. Complementary therapies. Yoga, aromatherapy, massage, herbal treatments, and mindfulness are a few of my favorites. I always start my day with aromatherapy. This is very helpful for my brain and also helps during cold/flu season. You might find that one or more of these therapies can help you relax and sleep better. It can also help you fight the symptoms of anxiety. I find with anxiety there is not a one size fits all fix. So, try different things until you find the combination that works for you.
You can overcome anxiety. Start today with just one of these steps. Then, try a few more. See which ones stick and work best for you. Remember, you aren't alone. Many Americans suffer from anxiety and many of them have overcome it.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She has helped many people overcome anxiety and lead a reasonably happy life. For more information, please visit www.LessonsforLove.com.
 

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