5 Strategies to Reduce or Manage Anxiety
Anxiety is an increasingly common experience in Australia, as well as throughout the USA, Britain and various other nations. Anxiety is slightly more prevalent among women, with 1 in 3 Australian women experiencing this. In addition, with 1 in 5 Australian men also experiencing anxiety, it is the most common mental health condition in Australia. (Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). (1)
While it is common to have anxious feelings, it can also be debilitating when anxiety persists without any particular reason or cause, or becomes a chronic condition. Persistent or chronic anxiety is not unusual, with approximately 1 in 7 Australians experiencing an anxiety disorder and over two million Australians experiencing anxiety during the course of a year.
If you or someone you care about suffers from anxiety, it’s important to realise that there are a range of strategies that may be appropriate to reduce or manage anxiety. Deciding on which strategies are the most suitable will depend on whether you are experiencing anxiety as a short-term response to a stressor, or whether you are experiencing a persisting condition.
It is important to talk to a medical or mental health professional about what you are experiencing so you can get a clear diagnosis and professional recommendations for the best results.
- Social connection – Anxiety can increase when people are socially isolated and this isolation is shown to have physical affects which can increase anxiety. New York Times reported on research from Professor Cacioppo showing ‘loneliness affects several key bodily functions, at least in part through overstimulation of the body’s stress response.’ Such stress responses can make it difficult for people to feel calm and at peace. The article further reports that ‘chronic loneliness is associated with increased levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, as well as higher vascular resistance, which can raise blood pressure and decrease blood flow to vital organs.’ (2)
- Lifestyle changes – Changes to diet and activity can make a significant difference to your overall wellbeing. Physical activity such as regular exercise can reduce stress, improve mood and increase an overall sense of wellbeing. Avoiding alcohol and other drugs is important as these substances can worsen anxiety as well as disrupt the ability to enter deep sleep, which itself is important for overall brain health and wellbeing.
- Therapy – An important part of an integrated response to managing anxiety is therapy. The Mayo Clinic describes therapy, saying “Also known as talk therapy, psychological counselling or psychotherapy it involves working with a therapist to reduce your anxiety symptoms. It can be an effective treatment for generalised anxiety disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) are some of the more popular forms of therapy for generalised anxiety disorder. Generally a short-term treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on teaching you specific skills to gradually return to the activities you’ve avoided because of anxiety. Through this process, your symptoms improve as you build on your initial success.”
- Medication – A consultation with your doctor or psychiatrist can help determine whether there are medications that may be helpful for you in the short-term in managing anxiety. There are a range of medications that a doctor may prescribe for you and it would be important to clearly follow any prescription you are given. Remember, never take anybody else’s medication, even if you think you are experiencing the same symptoms. As always, if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency contact your local emergency provider. (000 in Australia, 911 in the United States of America, 999 in the UK or 112 in Europe).
- Residential programs – A stay in a wellness residence like The Banyans can be helpful to receive holistic and integrated support from a multi-disciplinary team. Here we can connect you with experienced doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other allied health professionals, all informing a wellness plan that also includes nutrition, exercise, yoga, massage, music therapy, art therapy and more.
Designed for integrated restoration, and with an expert team of therapists, health practitioners and wellness coaches, The Banyans Health and Wellness Residence is a place where body and soul prosper in an environment of rest, wellness, and inspired living.
Call us now on 1300 BANYAN (1300 226 926) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion about how you or someone you care about can benefit from The Banyans.
(1) National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS