Being held hostage by anxiety is like being tied up with invisible rope. You feel bound and tied by irrational fear, which keeps you stuck in neutral, unable to gain any traction to move forward in life.
Fearing the worst-case scenario all the time is a self-defeating cognitive snafu that can have paralyzing effects. Instead of forging ahead in your career or pursuing a new relationship, anxiety keeps you stuck as a passive observer instead of an active participant.
Breaking free of the grip of anxiety is possible.
Luckily, you can learn how to get over anxiety. There are methods that can offer relief from the excessive worry that holds you prisoner in your own life. Learn here how to overcome the thought patterns that keep you stuck in the spin cycle of anxiety.
What Is Anxiety Disorder?
Chances are, at least one out of every five of your friends and family members grapple with an anxiety disorder. In fact, with more than 40 million Americans struggling with some sort of anxiety disorder, it is apparent that we are an anxious nation.
There are several different types of anxiety disorders, but underlying each of them is a common feature: fear. Fear of people, places, situations, and objects—pick your poison. Accompanying the fear is the feeling of having no control over the fear-inducing situation.
To help differentiate between the different forms of anxiety disorder, here are some brief summaries:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Excessive and irrational fear and worry about two issues or more that may cause shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, and sleep problems.
Social anxiety: Intense fear of being judged or rejected by others, causing such symptoms as sweating, blushing, muscle tension, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness.
Specific phobia: Extreme and unreasonable fear related to a specific object or situation, causing avoidance behaviors.
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Panic disorder: A sudden, unpredictable episode that features chest pain, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, sense of doom.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A prolonged response to having experienced or witnessed a traumatic event that features irritability, flashbacks, insomnia, substance abuse, and avoidance behaviors.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Alternating cycle of obsessive fears and compulsive behavioral responses to the fear.
How Does Anxiety Negatively Impact Our Lives?
Fear is a trap that can keep us from achieving our goals and dreams.
When we wrestle with an anxiety disorder, it holds us hostage by tricking us into thinking we aren’t good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough to be worthy of those goals and dreams.
As a result, we begin to isolate ourselves, mostly as an avoidance mechanism to protect us from perceived danger or criticism. From the isolation, we begin to develop other maladaptive behaviors and thought distortions that only further deteriorate mental wellbeing.
Anxiety is also detrimental to our physical health. Chronic stress and worry keep the stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, at elevated levels. This can lead to increased health risks, such as weight gain, heart disease, digestive issues, and sleep disturbance.
Change Your Thoughts and Regulate Anxiety Through CBT
Now for the fun part, learning how to get over anxiety.
Making the shift toward healthy, affirmative thoughts will translate to a change in behaviors associated with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is very useful in helping patients who struggle with anxiety to make these positive shifts.
CBT helps reduce anxiety symptoms by changing thought patterns through the following process:
- The individual identifies negative self-talk, determines if it is rational or exaggerated, and examines how the negative self-talk is impacting daily life functioning.
- The individual is guided to stop, consider the present thought, and then choose a more affirming thought to replace the negative thought with. This is a process that takes time and practice before it becomes a positive new habit. Journaling, or keeping a “thought diary” can help sort out the types of thoughts and how they affected the person.
- As the positive thoughts replace the negative ones, the goal is to begin confronting once-fearful situations and incrementally, through exposure therapy, become desensitized to the fears associated with them.
Some individuals are also aided with medication that helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety through a sedative effect. These medications, called benzodiazepines, should not be used long term, however, as they have a high risk of leading to addiction or dependency.
How To Get Over Anxiety Naturally
There are several natural techniques that can also help one learn how to get over anxiety. Holistic practices are increasingly included in the treatment plan for anxiety recovery due to their stress-regulation properties.
Some of these include:
- Mindfulness-based meditation
- Deep breathing exercises
- Progressive relaxation exercises
- Cardio exercise
Taking a proactive stance in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety through CBT and holistic activities can yield excellent results. Incorporate these practices into daily life for improved functioning and quality of life.
What methods have helped you learn how to get over anxiety? Please share with us in a comment below!