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  • Writer's pictureMoe | Scarlet Plus

Understanding Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms, and Coping Strategies


Feeling a bit anxious here and there is totally normal—we all go through it. But dealing with anxiety disorders, it's like having this constant, overwhelming sense of fear, panic, and anxiety, even in the most ordinary situations. It becomes a real issue when these feelings start messing with your day-to-day life and make it hard to go about things like you normally would.

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Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Feeling nervous

  • Feeling helpless

  • A sense of impending panic, danger or doom

  • Increased heart rate

  • Hyperventilation

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger

When those waves of anxiety and panic start messing with your daily groove, it can feel like a real struggle. The thing is, these feelings often blow up way bigger than the actual situation, making you want to dodge certain places or situations altogether.

If anxiety is throwing a wrench into your life and connections with others, it might be time to chat with your healthcare provider. They'll make sure there's nothing funky going on with your physical health before suggesting a mental health pro.

Sure, therapy and meds work for many dealing with anxiety, but tweaking your lifestyle and picking up some coping tricks can also be game-changers.


11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:

  1. Keep physically active. Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.

  2. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you can't quit on your own, see your health care provider or find a support group to help you.

  3. Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages. Nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.

  4. Use stress management and relaxation techniques. Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.

  5. Make sleep a priority. Do what you can to make sure you're getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren't sleeping well, talk with your health care provider.

  6. Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet that incorporates vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.

  7. Learn about your disorder. Talk to your health care provider to find out what might be causing your specific condition and what treatments might be best for you. Involve your family and friends, and ask for their support.

  8. Stick to your treatment plan. Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist gives. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.

  9. Identify triggers. Learn what situations or actions cause you stress or increase your anxiety. Practice the strategies you developed with your mental health provider so you're ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations.

  10. Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what's causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.

  11. Socialize. Don't let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities.

Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may worsen over time if you don't seek help. See your health care provider or a mental health provider before your anxiety worsens. It's easier to treat if you get help early.


How can I treat Anxiety?

Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways. One common treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps provide people with tools to cope with anxiety when it occurs.

Then there's the medication route—stuff like antidepressants and sedatives. They mess around with your brain chemistry, helping to keep anxiety from going into overdrive.

But if you're leaning towards a more natural approach, there are plenty of lifestyle tweaks that can make a real difference.

Maybe switch up your workout routine, upgrade your sleep game, or give your diet a little makeover. Feeling a bit adventurous? Dive into things like aromatherapy or meditation. Whatever life throws your way, there's a human-friendly way to take the edge off anxiety.

How can I treat Anxiety?

5 natural remedies for Anxiety

here are 5 Anxiety self-help strategies :

1. Stay active

Regular exercise isn’t just about physical health — it can be a huge help to your mental health as well.

A 2021 study found that people with physically active lifestyles had about 60% lower risk of developing anxiety disorders. This lower risk compared to matched individuals in a general population of about 400,000 people followed over 21 years.

The anti-anxiety effect of exercise could stem from a variety of reasons. Exercise can divert your attention from something that’s making you anxious.

Getting your heart rate up also changes the brain chemistry to create more space for anti-anxiety brain messengers (neurotransmitters), like:

  • serotonin

  • gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)

  • endocannabinoids

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), regular exercise leads to an enhancement of concentration and willpower, which can help certain anxiety symptoms.

When it comes to what type of exercise, this is more of a personal preference. If you’re looking to really get your heart rate up, something like a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) or running is your best bet.

But if you’re looking to start off with something with a little lower impact, workouts like Pilates and yoga could also be just as beneficial for your mental health.

2. Steer clear of alcohol

Drinking alcohol may take the edge off at first since it’s a natural sedative. However, a 2019 study Trusted Source confirmed that there is a link between anxiety and alcohol consumption, with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurring hand-in-hand.

A 2016 review Trusted Source that looked at 63 different studies showed that decreasing alcohol intake can improve both anxiety and depression.

Heavy drinking can interfere with the balance of those brain messengers, called neurotransmitters, which can be responsible for positive mental health. This interference creates an imbalance that may lead to certain symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety may temporarily increase in early sobriety but can improve in the long run.

A 2022 study Trusted Source conducted across 36 years showed that alcohol disrupts your body’s natural ability to sleep and may further diminish sleep quality over time. This may increase your risk of developing chronic sleep problems. As we’ll later point out, a good night’s sleep is incredibly helpful when combating anxiety.

3. Consider quitting smoking cigarettes

Smokers often reach for a cigarette during stressful times. Yet, like drinking alcohol, taking a drag on a cigarette when you’re stressed is a quick fix that may worsen anxiety over time.

A 2020 research review reported strong evidence that anxiety and smoking are related. Consistent findings showed that people with anxiety are more likely to be smokers. Additionally, a 2023 study Trusted Source found that stopping smoking significantly improved anxiety.

A 2020 study also suggests that nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety and panic disorder.

If you’re looking to quit, there are lots of ways you can get started. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommends finding a safe substitute for cigarettes, like toothpicks.

You can also take up habits that may distract you to create an environment that works for your smoke-free life. Additionally, you can make a plan with a support system that can provide everything from encouragement to distractions.

4. Limit caffeine intake

If you have chronic anxiety, caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine may cause nervousness and jitters, neither of which is good if you’re experiencing anxiety.

Caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. A 2022 research review of 10 studies reported that caffeine may increase both anxiety and panic attacks in people with panic disorder, as well as in unaffected adults. In some people, eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR), officially recognizes caffeine-induced anxiety disorder Trusted Source. The DSM-5-TR, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the U.S. authority for mental health diagnoses.

Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder is when caffeine interferes with daily functioning. A diagnosis requires that a person is experiencing anxiety symptoms as a direct result of caffeine consumption.

Like alcohol, caffeine is linked to anxiety due to caffeine’s ability to alter brain chemistry.

For example, 2021 research Trusted Source explains that caffeine increases alertness by blocking the brain chemical adenosine (which is what makes you feel tired), while at the same time triggering the release of adrenaline, known as the fight-or-flight hormone.

With all this being said, a moderate intake of caffeine is safe for most people.

However, if you’re looking to cut back or completely cut out caffeine, you’ll want to start by slowly reducing the amount of caffeine you drink daily.

Start replacing these drinks with water to quench the thirst. This will not only satisfy your body’s need to drink a liquid, but it will also help flush caffeine from your body and keep you hydrated.

Gradually reducing your caffeine over the course of a few weeks can help adjust the habit without the body going through withdrawal.

5. Prioritize getting a good night’s rest

Sleep has been proven repeatedly to be an important part of good mental health.

Even though a 2018 survey of 400,000 people showed that nearly a third of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the CDC recommends that adults get 7 or more hours of sleep Trusted Source every day.

You can make sleep a priority by:

  • only sleeping at night when you’re tired

  • not reading or watching television in bed

  • not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed

  • not tossing and turning in your bed

  • going to another room (even if it’s the bathroom if your living space is shared or small) if you can’t sleep

  • avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime

  • keeping your room dark and cool

  • writing down your worries before going to bed

  • going to sleep around the same time each night

6. Meditate and practice mindfulness

A central goal of meditation is full awareness of the present moment, which includes noticing all thoughts in a nonjudgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing your ability to mindfully tolerate all thoughts and feelings.

Meditation relieves stress and anxiety and is a primary facet of CBT.


How to meditate

There are 9 popular types of meditation:

  • mindfulness meditation

  • spiritual meditation

  • focused meditation

  • movement meditation

  • mantra meditation

  • transcendental meditation

  • progressive relaxation

  • loving-kindness meditation

  • visualization meditation

  • Mindfulness meditation is generally the most popular form. To mindfully meditate, you can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind.

You don’t judge or become involved with them. Instead, you simply observe them and take note of any patterns.


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