10 Ways to deal with Anxiety: A practical approach
Siddharth Jhaveri, Founder of Zorbacare, a retreat for people who seek confidentiality and comfort, lists down simple ways to overcome anxiety in our lives.
“Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” – Jodi Picoult
The great illusions of anxiety are always the hardest to break. And one of them is that it makes us feel like we are doing something about the situation or our life, but in reality we are not. In fact, we are stopping the spontaneous flow of life by trying to command it. Instead of using the mind and being a master of our mind, the mind becomes our master.
“Another illusion of anxiety is that it is uncontrollable. When people talk about their anxiety, it’s as if they are addressing an invisible monster that has possessed them and they can do nothing to stop it. Though it may feel that way, there are ways to overcome anxiety,” says Siddharth Jhaveri, Founder of Zorbacare, which is a group of rehabilitation centers across several cities in the country.
Let’s look at some of the simple steps to deal with anxiety:
Therapy: Even if you think your anxiety is not as ‘severe’, there is no reason to wait for it to get worse. Don’t try and diagnose yourself with an anxiety disorder. Talking to a qualified mental health professional is the ideal way to address anxiety and process it. Cognitive and Dialectical behavioral therapy, Mindfulness based Cognitive therapy, Rational emotive behavior therapy are some examples of therapies which are used to treat anxiety. A mixed or eclectic approach is used by therapist combining the best of these therapies according to the client’s needs and goals.
Meditate: Meditation helps calm the mind, watch the thoughts without getting stuck with them and improve one’s quality of life. To delve into one’s inner state, to introspect one’s thoughts and emotions, non-judgementally, by increasing awareness is one the best things you can do to deal with one’s anxiety.
Journaling: Introspective writing is beneficial to sort through one’s thoughts and identify what thoughts are causing anxiety and keeping us stuck in a loop of negative thoughts feeding negative emotions and vice versa. Processing anxious thoughts and reflecting on them becomes easier.
Identifying thought patterns and emotional scripts: Certain thought patterns and emotionally charged scripts we say to ourselves strengthen our anxiety. For eg. A sarcastic remark from a loved one can result in thinking negatively about ourselves. This self-deprecating pattern may increase our anxiety levels. Knowing such thought patterns helps us identify from the factors which increase anxiety.
Exercise: Physical exercise in any form does contribute to lower levels of anxiety. Yoga, dancing, Zumba, Pilates or learning a defense form such as kickboxing also helps alleviate anxiety through endorphin release and regulation of our mood.
Breathing exercises: Breathing is both a voluntary and an involuntary action. Breathing exercises brings us in the present moment, thus helping us in putting a pause to our spiralling anxious thoughts. Observing these thoughts without getting involved in them leads to allowing the thought and emotion loop to dissolve, thus truly letting go of it.
Beginning a new hobby: A new activity or situation activates the reward system of our brain and helps in coping with stress as it helps release neurotransmitters or chemicals which regulate our mood and thoughts.
Digital detox: Excessive stimulation leads to distractibility that makes anxiety worse. Mindless scrolling on social media can make one feel frazzled. Detox from all devices for at least one day in the week if possible or limit your screen time to few hours in the day. This allows the mind to relax and naturally process anxiety without needing a screen distraction all the time.
Nature walks: Spending some time with nature helps to increase our coping mechanisms and releases happy hormones which are necessary to keep the balance of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Take your dog out more often, go for picnics, take casual walks, observe flowers, walk on grass or simply drive down a green road slowly. Devote a few hours in the week to being around nature.
Share: Voicing out your thoughts and emotions to a close friend or family member also helps put things in perspective. But people have many hang ups about confiding due to the fear of being vulnerable, fearing judgement, feeling embarrassed or not understood. The idea here is to verbalize what we are feeling, acknowledge it and build a space for free expression.
Anxiety indeed is like a rocking chair in which one has something to do but doesn’t get one very far. But one can get off that chair and experience the joy of being still and free from one’s emotional suffering,
“At our rehabilitation center, Zorbacare, we aim to spread information regarding anxiety as well as build our program that caters to people with different, diverse issues. Many clients have underlying anxiety issues that co-occur with mental illnesses such as depression or other mood disorders, Substance use disorder, Dissociative disorders and so on. Rehabilitation process focuses on a total assessment and treatment for all these issues. Our team of mental health professionals offers customized therapeutic treatment for each individual, focusing on finding innovative ways to build coping mechanisms and tools to deal with the stressors of one’s life,” says Siddharth.
There are many more ways to deal with anxiety but these are the most efficient and easy to do for a person with a busy lifestyle. Anxiety is a crippling issue for many people and there is also shame in admitting that one is struggling to keep up with things that others seem to be doing fine with. Spreading awareness about anxiety is one way to help people identify these barriers that keep them from working on their issues.