How to cope with anxiety

If we ask 10 people right now if they are battling “Anxiety Disorder” 80% will say NO. This is because many people, especially in our climes, take anxiety disorder to be a foreign ailment or a mental breakdown that translates to craziness!

This is a wrong idea of what anxiety is about. Anxiety simply means excessive worrying or irrational fixation on issues that keep us sad, irritable and even depressed. 

Anxiety disorders are quite common with studies show one in fourteen people around the world having anxiety disorder. With this pandemic and its associated challenges, this number will mire likely be around 1 in 8 or 6 or less! 

Anxiety problems can lead to depression, suicide, school drop out, relationship breakdown and so much more.

According to Olivia Remes, a  University of Cambridge, PHD researcher on anxiety and depression, she explained in a Tedtalk that, normal anxiety is an emotion that we all get, when we are in a stressful situation. She gave an example that, If you come face to face with a lion, this would probably make you feel anxious and you may start running like crazy. This anxiety protects you, because it helps you during emergency. So anxiety, to an extent, is actually helpful.

However, people with generalized anxiety disorder, worry excessively about everything in their lives and they find it very difficult to control this worry. They find it hard to fall asleep at night and can’t concentrate on tasks. This ends up affecting their lives and their general productivity.

Olivia Remes shared some coping skills that can help reduce your anxiety. They include;

1. Engage in activities that make you feel in control: If you currently feel like you are lacking in control, then engage in experiences that makes you feel in control. Cooking, Baking and other such activities give you a sense of control because you know the outcome you wish to get and you know how to get there. 

2. Don’t be afraid to do badly: Do you find yourself spending a lot of time deciding what you might do while nothing gets done? You are waiting for the perfect time or the perfect approach. Make a decision to give yourself permission to do badly.  ‘Anything worth doing is worth doing badly the first time’. – G.K Chesterton.

This state of mind helps you speed up your decision making and gets you straight into action, knowing that failing isn’t final. Spending hours deciding what to do can be paralyzing and can make you afraid to even begin. Do it badly, and you can improve as you go.

3. Forgive yourself: Be kinder to yourself and forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in the past. Forgive yourself for anything and everything. This would give you greater compassion towards yourself and keep you calmer and more restful.

4. Having a purpose and living a life of meaning is a very important coping mechanism. No matter how much money we make, we cannot be fully happy, until we know that someone else needs us. Do you do at least one thing with someone else in mind? If we do not do something with someone else in mind, we are at much higher risk of poor mental health. For example; volunteering, sharing helpful information. All these can improve your mental health. Doing works that might benefit future generation. Even if this people will never realize what you have done for them. It doesn’t matter because you will know and it will make you realize the importance and uniqueness of your life. Doing something with someone else in mind can help you get through the toughest times in life.

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