Dealing with Life With Anxiety and Stress
By Jeromy Krogman M.A., LLPC
Anxiety; it’s all around us. It’s there when we get up in the mornings, when we go to the store, when we go to work, when we go to church; it never leaves us. So what is anxiety? Anxiety is not stress. According to Stress and Depressions Association of America, “Anxiety is a reaction to the stress and Stress is a response to a threat in a situation.”
Here is an example:
You are trying to get back in shape so you head outside on a beautiful sunny day and begin running. You run a few days a week for about 4 weeks. You are starting to feel better and you have a route that you have been taking. However, one day you’re out on your run, and a few blocks from home you see a dog that is snarling at you and then it starts to bark. You realize it is tied up, but your stress level has already risen higher than you are able to manage. You have always been scared of dogs, and this dog looks like it wants to have you for lunch. Next day, you get up, get ready, and start on your run, but then you remember the dog. The anxiety starts to sit in as you think about the previous day being barked at by the vicious snarling dog. You can’t stop thinking about those huge teeth during your run. As you get closer to the house with the dog, your pulse rises, and you start to get anxious about what might happen. Even though the dog is nowhere in sight, your heart still races. Every day you run, you think about the dog more and more; it becomes harder to go outside and run your route even though you may never see the dog.
Stress Vs. Anxiety
In this example, the stress is the first initial contact with the dog when your flight/fight response kicks in. This is not anxiety yet. The anxiety here is the next day when you are thinking about the dog and the anticipation of what might happen. You don’t actually have to see the dog to have anxiety over it. Just thinking about what could happen in the future will cause your brain to increase your heart rate and blood pressure even though there is no danger in sight.
Overcoming Anxiety and Stress
So how do you deal with anxiety? It is very hard to tackle stress especially if it feels like it just comes out of nowhere. However, help is close and there are many options for those dealing with this annoying critter in their life called “Anxiety.”
With multiple ways of dealing with anxiety, how does one pick, which is best? One thing I tell my clients is to get away from the situation and re-energize. Do something that is enjoyable and meaningful to you whether that’s reading a good book, going to the beach or just hanging out with some close friends. Another solution that I tell most of my clients, is to go workout. Unless there is a snarling, vicious dog out to get you, working out really helps your mood. Working out helps relieve adrenaline in your muscles, which helps you relax. Some of the least anxious people around are those who are in the gym. When you workout there are endorphins being released in the brain as well as it causing a sense of euphoria when you are on that treadmill.
Another way to reduce anxiety is to use breathing techniques to help control your body as well as muscle relaxing techniques (if you're not able to workout) to release some of the adrenaline in your muscles. This will help you calm down and be able to tackle life’s difficult situations. These techniques will not only help you deal with the anxiety in the present but will help you deal with stressors that pop up in your daily life in the future. Consult with a therapist to use these techniques effectively.
Finally, it is hard to do this on your own, so find someone who can help you deal with the stress in your life. Whether that's a therapist, a mentor, or a close friend; find someone who is willing to support you through this process of healing. It’s very hard to do this on your own so build a community of close relationships who will help you overcome your anxiety and help you deal with the stress in your life.