Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety in the course of your day to day life? Do you sometimes find it hard to do ordinary things because your heart is hammering and you have an irrational feeling of dread? Perhaps you’re just constantly worried that you’re making mistakes or that people don’t like you, or you can’t stop thinking about bad things that might happen, even when you know these feelings don’t really make sense. If so, you’re not alone. Almost one in five Americans experience anxiety in any given year. The important thing is to understand why it happens and what you can do about it.

Taking on too much

In today’s society, we’re all under pressure to do as much as we can do and to be the best we can be. Some people need that kind of urging to get them to do anything at all but for others it easily becomes too much. The pressure of keeping up at work, looking after children or other dependents, dealing with social responsibilities and coping with day to day stress around matters like illness or strained finances can have a damaging psychological effect. Sometimes developing anxiety is a warning sign that you have to cut back, no matter how hard it is to do so, and let others take the strain for a while.

Past trauma

Sometimes anxiety isn’t about what’s happening now but about what has happened in the past. This can be particularly pernicious because it often happens just when life is going well, the mind having waited until general stress is low in order to try and process unresolved issues. When this kind of problem develops, it’s important to try and work out what the trauma stems from so that you can deal with it. it isn’t always a big, obvious event. Sometimes children can be damaged by things that seem trivial to adults, but the lingering results are every bit as serious.

Physical factors

Anxiety can also occur as a result of physical factors without any psychological trigger. It’s particularly common in adolescence and during peri-menopause because hormones are changing. It can also be a side-effect of some kinds of medication, from contraceptive pills to cancer treatments. It’s often caused by the physical ups and downs of addiction, and it’s a particular risk for people whose general health is poor.

Exercises to use at home

If you feel an attack of acute anxiety beginning or if you need to reduce your general anxiety levels, there are things you can do about it immediately. Deep breathing exercises can calm you down and fend off panic. Finding your pulse on your wrist can help you to focus and gradually slow it down. If you find it easier with an outside source of help, you can use an online therapy app to restore your feelings of calmness and control.

Counselling

If you’re having long-term problems with anxiety, there are a number of talking-based therapeutic approaches which can help. Some of them involve learning techniques to take away the power of stressful thoughts and to shift your thinking onto positive things. Others simply focus on helping you to mentally work through underlying causes of stress. Counselling is available online as well as in person and although it takes time to work, it can be very effective.

Drug therapy

When anxiety persists, despite counselling and other forms of support, it’s sometimes necessary to use drug therapy. The good news is that this is much more effective than it was a few years ago and there’s a variety of medicines to choose from, so if you don’t get the result you’re hoping for straight away, your doctor can refine this approach until you do. This kind of treatment can help you get back to going about your life in a normal way without struggling with anxiety.

Diet

Finally, it’s worth noting that anxiety is strongly correlated with poor diet. if your blood sugar is lurching up and down all day, your emotional balance will be much less stable, so cut out soda and foods that are heavy in refined sugar and eat more long chain carbohydrates – foods like rice, pasta, cereals, potatoes and bread – to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day. Eat a good balance of fruits and vegetables to make sure you get plenty of micronutrients – magnesium and zinc are particularly important for fending off anxiety.

Although they can be complicated, most cases of anxiety have fairly simple origins and can be resolved in simple ways. Don’t just sit and suffer – summon up your strength and do something about it. You can live a much happier life.