You’ve Got This! Three Holistic Steps to Managing Anxiety

By Diane Bonilla, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor in Northern Virginia

The two most important things to understand about anxiety are that it is universally  experienced and that it is holistically managed. You are absolutely not alone in  experiencing anxiety, though it can feel that way. Anxiety symptoms can impact our  emotional, physical and spiritual health. A holistic approach to management is the key  to finding your peace, better health, and more meaningful life experiences. While  meeting with a therapist is a great way to develop an individual plan for managing your anxiety and is more accessible than ever through Telehealth, committing to the following three steps can be the beginning of your journey. 

Step One: Physical Movement 

Anxiety is our body’s way of telling us we may be in danger. It is a basic survival  mechanism that can be triggered by our brain (specifically the Amygdala) even when we  are not in real peril. The Amygdala is responsible for rapidly reacting to danger, even  before the rest of our brain does. The downside is it can become overactive. For  example, being cooped up for months during a pandemic over time can signal danger to  the Amygdala and cause us to feel anxiety. Fight, fight or freeze are common reactions  to anxiety, so what better way to address our body’s reaction than to GET MOVING!  Take a walk. Go outdoors. Use the stairs. If you are up to it, exercise. Just moving will  reduce your anxiety inducing hormones. Look for opportunities to move. Try to MOVE  every day. Some days will be better than others. Gradually your brain will begin to see  that you are addressing the “danger” it perceives and it will calm down. 

Step Two: Emotional Supports

In addition to working with a therapist, tending to our emotional health can take many  forms. Blogs and podcasts are great tools for gathering self-help information and can be  great companions for walking or your drive home. “The Anxiety Guy” is a podcast  created by a former professional tennis player who battled anxiety. His episodes are  usually under 20 minutes with insightful, compassionate feedback. Or you can treat  yourself to a new journal and make daily entries about your thoughts, feelings,  concerns. Share your struggle with a good friend or your spouse. Finding which one of  these tools works best for you and committing to it, will help to manage your anxiety  and provide you that much needed emotional support.

Step Three: Spirituality 

The best way to nourish our spiritual health is to connect with meaningful things.  Helping someone else is one of the best ways to get away from your world of anxiety.  Think of people in your life that could benefit from your support. Keep it simple. Call someone who is single during this pandemic. Run an errand for someone. Drop a bag of recipe ingredients with the recipe included and cook together with a lonely friend over facetime. Send a handwritten note (yes, the old fashioned way!). Other ways to tend to  your spiritual needs are to practice meditation or yoga or spend time in prayer. Nourish your soulfulness with the sound of ocean waves on YouTube or download an app, like  “Calm,” which gives free access to meditation nature sounds and a mood inventory with a tracking feature. The goal here is to be in the moment and turn off the ruminations. 

One Last Thought: 

Remember you are not alone experiencing anxiety. If you address your physical,  emotional and spiritual needs, your anxiety can become increasingly more tolerable.  We all feel anxiety at one time or another. It is our basic human instinct to do so. The  goal is not to eliminate anxiety; it is to manage or tend to it and have more meaningful life experiences, increased inner peace, and better overall health. You’ve got this!

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