Anxiety is a natural and healthy response to stressful situations--it’s how our bodies make sure that we are prepared to respond to threats. However, in today’s world, we are often inundated with warning signs and stressors. Rather than a temporary condition that makes us more alert, anxiety can become a constant state and make it harder to cope with daily life. We feel distracted and exhausted. We can’t stop thinking about the things that stress us out, or we do everything in our power to avoid thinking about them or dealing with them at all. If your anxiety is impacting your happiness, it might be a good time to assess your anxiety coping styles.
Everyone deals with anxiety differently. Some people depend on exercise or meditation; others feel better when they can talk it through with a supportive person. People often use food, drinking, smoking, television, computers, and our phones as distractions or “breaks” from our anxiety. Sometimes our coping strategies work to reduce our worry; but at other times, the anxiety just keeps building as soon as we return. Sometimes, taking a break seems to make it worse. In deciding if it's time to invest in some new coping strategies, it can be helpful to ask yourself:
--Which areas of my life or personal history feel low-stress?
--Which situations help me to “think through” or “talk through” the topics that make me anxious?
--In which situations does talking or thinking about anxiety-producing topics just make me feel more overwhelmed and anxious?
--If talking with others helps, what is it that they do or say that calms me?
--What are the things that calmed me down when I was upset as a child?
--Can I identify the “triggers” that cause my anxiety to rocket?
--Which physical activities tend to interrupt my anxiety and make me feel calmer?
There is no one solution to anxiety--but there are many different solutions, each of them unique to your own experience and personal style. Through the process of investigating your unique coping style, you can discover new tools to regain a sense of peace.