More than 40 million people over the age of 18 in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. Overcoming the anxiety physical symptoms requires a full understanding of anxiety causes and learning how to properly cope with anxiety.
Anxiety Causes: Why You Feel This Way
The National Institute of Mental Health reaffirms what many people feel: they don’t know the exact anxiety causes. It's thought that anxiety is caused by multiple factors, including:
- Environmental factors
- Genetic factors
Researchers are also trying to understand how a person’s brain chemistry may play a role in anxiety. We do know that there are certain food and drink choices that can lead to higher levels of anxiety, including:
While the exact anxiety causes for you may be unknown, there are multiple risk factors that are known to increase your risk of this disorder, including:
- Substance abuse
Women are far more likely than men to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Anxiety Physical Symptoms
Anxiety physical symptoms are well-known to sufferers because they’ll often try to hide these symptoms out of embarrassment. The physical symptoms that are considered most common are:
- Visible trembling
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Hyperventilation (i.e. rapid breathing)
- Rapid heart rate
The symptoms that a person experiences can vary depending on the type of anxiety that they’re experiencing. Anxiety can be classified as:
General anxiety disorder is one of the most common forms of anxiety and will often be excessive and persistent. The fear and worry will be difficult to control and will cause you to worry about things that are at such a high proportion that it seems excessive.
Agoraphobia is a fear that causes you to avoid certain places or situations. The thought of these situations or places can cause you to go into a panic that makes you feel embarrassed or helpless.
Social situations that lead to high levels of anxiety or fear are considered social phobia. With a social phobia, you’ll often feel self-conscious and also be concerned about how others view you.
A specific phobia can cause major anxiety. You may have a phobia of a person, situation, or event. For example, you may experience anxiety or a panic attack when you’re put in a specific situation, or you come in contact with a person.
This type of phobia may be a result of a bad past experience.
If you were in a relationship where someone always yelled and screamed at you when you walked in the door, you may have anxiety when walking into your home or seeing the individual in person.
Children and adults can suffer from separation anxiety. This condition is most common when the child is separated from their parents, causing them significant stress and anxiety in the process.
Intense anxiety or fear that results in a high level of anxiety, or a panic attack in minutes, can be considered a panic disorder. Your heart may pound, you may have difficulty breathing, or even experience chest pain due to a panic attack.
Oftentimes, a panic disorder will also include the fear that a panic attack will occur again in the future.
It’s not uncommon for a person that is experiencing panic disorders to avoid situations where they’ve experienced panic attacks in the past.
Anxiety Coping Skills - Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety
Coping with anxiety is possible, but it will take time. Natural remedies can help, too. You can use one or a combination of the following natural ways to reduce anxiety to help relieve your symptoms:
- Meditation: Studies on mindfulness meditation indicate that meditation is able to provide moderate or high levels of anxiety relief. You can perform simple, 10-minute sessions of meditation to find relief.
- CBD: Multiple studies on CBD, at varying dosage levels, show that CBD can decrease anxiety significantly. One study found that taking 300 mg of CBD before a public-speaking event was able to relieve the participant’s anxiety levels.
- Breathing: Practicing deep breathing, and focusing on the breath, is a form of meditation and can help you calm your nerves and anxiety.
- Essential Oils: There are a lot of essential oils for anxiety that have been shown to ease the symptoms of GAD, including lavender, bergamot, and chamomile, among dozens of others.
- Aromatherapy: Placing some of these essential oils in a diffuser can provide relief, too. You can also use incense, candles, or sandalwood to help calm the nerves and provide anxiety relief.
- Exercise: Multiple forms of exercise are known to help your body produce higher levels of endorphins, which will help reduce depression and can help you control your anxiety. Yoga, weight training, and even biking can help you find a sense of peace and relieve GAD symptoms.
- Sleep: Sometimes, a little sleep goes a long way in helping a person relieve anxiety. If you’re struggling to sleep well at night, we’re adding a bunch of key tips to the bottom of this article that can help.
Coping with anxiety takes time and is something that you’ll need to work on to reduce or even eliminate your anxiety disorder.
How to Help Someone with Anxiety
A little bit of understanding can go a long way in helping someone overcome their anxiety. While you may not fully understand why a person is feeling anxious, what they’re feeling and experiencing is very real to them.
Helping someone with anxiety requires you to:
- Understand the signs and symptoms of anxiety so that you can provide support
- Acknowledge the person’s anxiety and be a friend
- Provide reassurance and help the individual alleviate their symptoms and overcome doubts
- Listen to the person, provide some rational advice, and help them come up with a plan to overcome their anxiety
- Remain supportive no matter how irrational the person may seem
- Engage in activities with the individual, such as exercising or meditating with the person
- Reinforce the positive moments as much as you can
No one can force a person to not suffer from anxiety, but you can provide support to help your friend or loved one overcome or control their anxiety.
Tips for Sleeping When You Have Anxiety
Anxiety can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. You may get stuck in a loop of negative thinking that will keep you up all night, or you may be worried about an upcoming event.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, these tips may help you get a better night of sleep.
Set a Sleep Schedule – And Stick to It
Create a sleep schedule, and make sure that you stick to it. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
When you have a sleep routine, your body will naturally get tired at the same time every day. This will make it easier to fall asleep.
Ditch the Caffeine
Caffeine can make anxiety even worse, and drinking it too close to bedtime can keep you up all night. The biggest issue is that caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours. This means that if you have a cup of coffee at 5 pm, caffeine will still be in your system at 10 pm.
Cut out caffeine after 2 PM to help your body get into its normal sleep cycle. Not only will this help prevent insomnia, but it can also help ease your anxiety symptoms at night.
Many anxiety sufferers find that meditating before bed can help ease anxiety and allow them to drift off into a restful sleep.
Guided meditations can be especially helpful because they take the guesswork out of the equation, which can also cause anxiety.
Create the Right Environment
Creating the right environment can make all the difference in your sleep quality and can even help ease anxiety.
The best sleep environments are:
- Dark: Try using blackout curtains if your room isn’t dark enough.
- Cool: Lower the temperature in your home or try adding a fan to cool things down.
- Quiet: Use a noise machine or turn off noisy electronics at night to create a quiet sleeping environment.
Some people also find it helpful to take a shower before bed because it helps lower your body temperature and can help you fall asleep more quickly.
Aromatherapy can be a powerful tool in fighting anxiety and promoting restful sleep. Many essential oils contain compounds that can help you feel more relaxed and ease tension.
Here are some essential oils that you can use in aromatherapy to help you sleep with anxiety:
If you’re using a diffuser for aromatherapy, make sure that you’re using it before you sleep or use a timer set to avoid overexposure. Leaving your diffuser on for too long can actually give you headaches and cause other side effects that can make it even harder to go to sleep.
Anxiety is a common mental health condition, and it’s one that can be combatted with natural remedies. From meditation to CBD, aromatherapy, and exercise, there are so many ways to fight back against anxiety without having to deal with negative side effects.
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