Thursday, 1 March 2012

Coping With Anxiety

To say we live in stressful times is an understatement. Students, parents and educators, all face an ever mounting number of stressors, leading to rising levels of anxiety. While we might all hope for quieter times, its unlikely the things that stress us are going to go away. If anything they just become tougher and more numerous.

Anxiety can be be devastating. It erodes personal effectiveness, can lead to absenteeism or generate depression and other anti social behaviors. Finding effective ways to deal with anxiety can be critical to keeping us effective. While there is no magic solution to dealing with anxiety, a three pronged approach works for many. A combination of active living, proper nutrition and cognitive behavioral therapy goes a long way towards helping many people deal with anxiety. Take a break, get some food and rest, think and act!

The benefits of active living are well documented. When anxiety is overwhelming many people feel paralyzed or just too busy to exercise. As little as 20 minutes of activity three times can have a tremendous positive impact. As reported in Medscape News exercise activities can be traditional or alternate in nature, but all have an inverse effect on the presentation of mental health symptoms. Basically the more one moves the better one can feel.

Nutrition and rest are also keys to reducing stress. When the world gets "too much with us" the tendency is to skip meals or cut back on sleep. As outlined in Help Guide, such actions can be a big mistake. To cope with stress people should be well nourished and well rested. Few indeed are the people who can deny the therapeutic value of a good meal or a timely nap.

As important as staying active, strong and rested, is the mental ability to keep stressors in perspective and maintain a healthy cognitive attitude. Often fears or challenges can seem overwhelming when considered in their entirety. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be useful in helping people to identify how their thinking about fears and anxieties impacts their lives. By taking the time to think straight and/or by seeking help from friends or health professionals people recognize how anxious thinking is influencing their behaviors. Anxiety Network provides a good description and resource about how cognition, behavior and actions can be interwoven to help people deal with their anxieties.

Keeping anxiety at bay and in perspective is a challenge. Staying aware, active, well nourished and well rested can help make the world a less scary place. Looking to our physical and mental health makes us better equipped to deal with things that really matter.

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