What do anxiety and a cold have in common?

 

Every year, especially during the winter months, the common cold makes its appearance. And every year, people try to prevent it by taking extra vitamin C and staying away from others who might have it. Anxiety, when managed effectively, is like the common cold. Let me explain.

 

Anxiety is an emotion, and like all emotions it serves a purpose. For example, anxiety can help us stay safe by warning us of danger. Consider the following scenario. You are walking down the street at night and start to feel a strange sensation. Your heart starts to beat a little faster, and you wonder, “Is someone following me?”.

 

Your body is telling you that something isn’t right and that you need to pay attention. In response, you may do one of the following: run, fight, or, freeze. Of course, we don’t want you to freeze in a situation like this because that is not an effective response for keeping you safe. In this case, we most likely want you to run, but if it’s too late and the person is already attacking you, then we want you to fight.

 

But, sometimes you become anxious when there is no real danger or threat to your safety. The same strange sensations occur in your body and you may respond by avoiding the situation altogether, by becoming defensive and combative, or with debilitating panic. When managed effectively, however, the response becomes one of tolerance. Instead of running away or avoiding the anxiety-provoking situation you can learn to tolerate anxiety, inviting it along on your journey, so that you can continue to live your life. You cannot get rid of anxiety, but you CAN learn to live with it.

 

You might be wondering, how is this like the common cold? Well, the same is true. We cannot get rid of the common cold once it has infected us. It must run its course. And, we never really know when it might come back. However, there are things you can do to prevent and cope with a cold and this is true of anxiety as well.

 

Here are some other ways to help prevent and cope more effectively with anxiety:

 

Get your rest.

 

Sleep is essential for effective coping. When you are well-rested, your mind and body can cope with stress and anxiety more effectively. It is recommended that you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, there are things you can do. Click here for tips to get a restful sleep tonight.

 

Eat well.

 

Your body and mind need nutrients to give you energy to fight off infections and boost immunity. Nutrient rich foods can help improve your ability to manage stress and anxiety, while foods that are high in sugar and caffeine can make it more difficult. Talk to your doctor about how food and vitamin deficiencies can impact mental health.

 

Exercise.

 

Yoga is a simple and effective form of exercise that can help get you moving when you just want to hide under the covers. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on your practice to reap the benefits either. Try these four poses to get you started.

 

Practice mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is the act of paying close attention to something in your environment, or within yourself, without judgement as to whether it is good or bad, right or wrong. If you have tried mindfulness or meditation in the past and found it frustrating, you are not alone. My clients find that it is a process of finding what works for them. Click here to read my blog post on Mindfulness and discover three ways to incorporate it into your life starting today.

 

Ask for help.

 

Reaching out to someone is not easy. It can takes some clients months, or even years, to ask for help. But talking to someone, a professional, can help you process what has happened, or is happening in your life, and learn skills to help you cope more effectively with stress and anxiety in your future. If you’re ready, reach out to us. We’d be honored to join you on your journey to wellness.

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