Think sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and more. Anxiety is more than just a mental state, often manifesting itself physically. Canada-based Existential Therapist Sara Kuburic gives her hot tips on managing anxiety and we cover the physical symptoms it can cause.
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia with one quarter of Australians experiencing it in their lifetime, according to Beyond Blue. Recognising the symptoms of anxiety is the first step to addressing them.
Beyond Blue cites panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, a racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness and feeling tense as some of the common physical symptoms of anxiety.
Whilst these sensations are unpleasant Sara says, “a lot of people start to dislike their own bodies or be scared of their bodies because they’re anxious.” She says, “reframing that relationship with your body is so important, Recognising that anxiety is trying to communicate something with you- it’s not trying to harm you. I think disarming anxiety can make you go ‘okay how can I collaborate with whatever feelings are happening’.”
Sara practices mindfulness. “I like breath work, I love body scans”, she says, “grounding exercises are great such as deep breaths.”
Sara says being present can help people to manage anxiety because, “anxiety often comes from envisioning the future or being scared of the unknown or the uncertain. Asking yourself what do I know right now. What facts can I ground myself in right now is really important because most people are not anxious about something that is actually happening. They are anxious about something that might happen or something in the past so they are not being very present.”
She recommends the ‘5-4-3-2-1 Exercise’ which involves acknowledging five things you can see around you, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. When put into practice this technique helps bring you back into your body and be present.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends exercise, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, getting enough sleep and limiting stress as other strategies to manage anxiety.
It’s important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently and what works to calm down one person may actually intensity feelings of anxiety for others.
It is important to recognise that you are not alone and there are people who can help. The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can recover. See Beyond Blue for a list of Practitioners who can help.
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