Effective Strategies for Dealing with AnxietyLast updated: Mar 14, 2016
Anxiety is something felt by all people at one time or another. It is a normal human emotion.
However, it can be extended past normalcy if left unchecked for too long.
James Korman, PsyD, ACT, Director of the Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center at Summit Medical Group, warns that it’s important to make the distinction between general worry and true anxiety.
It’s normal to feel anxious, nervous, or stressed during situations such as being late for work, not having studied enough for an upcoming test, or when working on a big project at the office. This type of stress tends to resolve itself once the situation or event is resolved.
“Anxiety, on the other hand, has two primary symptoms,” explains Dr. Korman. “One is worry, where people are repeatedly thinking or ruminating about things and the ways to solve it. The other is physical, you can experience muscle tension, your heart races, you have shortness of breath, and you may experience sweating or dizziness, all of which are signs that your ‘fight or flight’ response has been activated.”
Stress and mild anxiety can be helpful in small, limited doses as it encourages you to find solutions for situations and complete tasks. But, if it goes on for too long, it can begin to impede and hurt your ability to perform daily activities and can eventually become an anxiety disorder.
If you or someone you know is suffering from significant anxiety, the psychological stress can begin affecting your physiological and emotional well-being. If this starts to happen Dr. Korman recommends helping the anxious person, and yourself, by guiding them into treatment. Specifically, he recommends Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
In patients with anxiety, CBT helps them to understand that it’s not the events [that cause anxiety], but how they think about these events.” People with anxiety tend to spend most of their time thinking about the future and worrying about it.
In cognitive behavioral therapy, you’re taught specific skills that help you think as realistically as possible so that you spend more time in the present than the future. “To support their worries people also tend to only focus on information that supports their thinking, while ignoring information that suggests it isn’t true Dr. Korman notes. “This makes the worries seem much more realistic and prevents people from evaluating them clearly.”
When it comes to medication, Dr. Korman explains that it can be very helpful to people with a long history of anxiety. Combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, you can have a powerful treatment plan that’s effective at combating anxiety.
To get yourself started in the right direction with handling anxiety, Dr. Korman has a powerful way to help you manage and cope with stressors. He recommends you ask yourself one big question, “What is the worst thing that could happen in whatever you are dealing with, and if that were to take place, how would you handle it or manage it?” Realizing that in most situations the answer is yes, you will be able to manage or handle even the worst outcome will go a long way towards making you feel less anxious.