Manage your anxiety

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Everybody gets nervous. It could be before doing a presentation at work, writing an exam or getting back the results of a medical test. Nervousness is a reaction to a situation that might be scary. It makes sense.

Anxiety doesn’t make sense. Even if you could say what brought it on, you might struggle to rationalise your way out. Meanwhile your body can go into full panic mode with symptoms like sweating, sleeplessness and heart palpitations.

BSA reader Sandra Botha writes: When I feel low, I am usually thinking too much. My mind becomes racy and goes into overdrive. How can I stop thinking so much? Why am I feeling down and defeated? How do I cope with my anxiety? Please give me some tips to help me deal with it.

We asked Dr Maricia Duvenage, our expert from Health Renewal for some insight.

Anxiety can cause a great deal of physical stress. If left untreated for too long it can exhaust your stress glands, called adrenals.

You need to take a step back and analyse what is the cause of your anxiety, or it will continue to torment you. Perhaps the cause cannot be removed from your life. Then you must find a way to manage it.

Getting control over anxiety can be a long process, but there are things that can help right now.

Breathe.

Take a deep breath, people say when you’re distraught. That might make it worse and lead to hyperventilating, which is common with anxiety. Try to take even, slower, shallower breaths to help restore the CO2 balance in your body.

Three times three

Look around. Name three things you see, name three sounds you hear, move three parts of your body. This mental game helps you to refocus.

Stay in the present

Anxiety is about what lies ahead. Put worries about the future back where they belong and concentrate on where you are and what is going on now. Even if something serious is happening, this helps you cope with the situation.

Keep busy

Chores and running errands will give you some satisfaction – job done – and distract you.

Shoulders back

When you are anxious, you’re likely to hunch – an instinctive way of protecting the upper body. Pull your shoulders back, uncross your legs and sit with feet apart. As your chest opens, your body starts to feel it’s in control again.

Talk about it

Phone or visit someone close and be open up about how you’re feeling. Said out loud, the issues will sound different and feedback can help you make sense of it all.

Acceptance

The crucial one. Instead of fighting or denying it, accept that anxiety is part of your reality for now. It could just make you more anxious to overthink. Accommodate it and prepare for it.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help

If anxiety hits you often, consult a professional therapist who can help you figure out what brings on attacks and how to cope with them. Medication might be part of the solution.

It is also important to support your adrenal glands during times of stress. Try herbs such as rhodiola or ashwaganda. They are adaptogens, which may improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress.

Have a question for our experts? Ask them here.

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  1. Zubeidah Tasriet

    Anxiety also comes from taking on too many tasks and responsibilities above than what you already have. Learn to say no. If someone else can do it – let them. Add “me-time” as one of your responsibilities that must be done, not to see if there is time to do it, then it will never happen.

    1 day ago •

  1. Leonie Strickland

    My daughter gets anxious and since she is using the 3×3 it really helps. We actually do 3 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch and 3 things you can see. I suppose it is all about getting her attention on something else and we are very grateful we discovered this method. I was a single mother when she was born. I think I might have been scared or anxious while pregnant; afraid to face it alone and that is possibly the reason for her anxiety. But I am happily married now and she is also starting to outgrow her biggest fears.

    3 weeks ago •

  1. Makhubalo

    Well from personal experience, you know all these above-mentioned tips but when that attack sets in then you’re completely out of control and you need an external stimulous to get you back into shape. As I’ve told my friends and family, if it hits me out of nowhere, give me my Ativan pill, hold my hands and make me look into your eyes and focus on you and you’re breathing so that I can mimic your actions. That does the trick and sometimes I land up in hospital, but those are rare and few and far between. I’m usually left with an elivated pulse for 5 days then eventually my body calms down.

    3 weeks ago •

  1. Ruweida Moorad

    Anxiety affects so many people and it still is one of those mental health issues that we are ashamed of. There are several apps to assist and I’ve used them and found useful. Try Anxiety Free, or Anxiety Attack.

    4 weeks ago •

    1. BeautySouthAfrica

      Thank you so much for sharing, Ruweida!

      4 weeks ago •

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