Anxiety is natural. Everyone—with the possible exception of the comatose—experiences anxiety to some degree at some point each day.
Chronic anxiety is different. For those suffering from it, it seems as though the anxiety response is permanently turned on and directed towards, well, everything and nothing at the same time.
This ramps up anxiety levels regarding certain situations, topics, ideas, the list is endless.
Let’s give a quick rundown of the common symptoms of chronic anxiety:
- A persistent sense of impending doom;
- Neurotic, paranoid, and/or catastrophic thinking patterns;
- Muscle tension, headaches, and difficulty concentrating;
- Insomnia, usually an inability to fall asleep and stay asleep due to anxiety;
- Feeling easily overwhelmed;
- Stomach problems, usually nausea and diarrhea.
There are of course more symptoms, subtleties, and other factors that arise from chronic anxiety, but that’s the big picture.
So, you have chronic anxiety—how are you going to deal with this fact?
The first answer is knowing there is hope. There are ways of managing this situation and finding peace.
Make Connections & Build A Support System
Having chronic anxiety does not make you a lesser person, and most people would be sympathetic to your situation. You no-doubt have people in your life who you can turn to. Build connections with them and be open about your struggle.
Even if it’s just one or two people, having something of a network of support goes a long way. Having time with someone you can speak with and help you work through your issues will calm your nervous system and bring you back to steady ground.
Those with chronic anxiety often get themselves into thought-spirals—a minor issue can morph into an all-consuming catastrophe. When this happens, getting an objective view on the matter is the best thing to calm your thoughts.
Conversely, there are people you probably want to set boundaries with. These are people who ramp up your nerves, which can happen for many reasons—maybe they’re chronic worriers as well and their anxiety feeds into yours, maybe they’re overly critical of you, maybe their energy level is just too high.
These people may not always have this effect on you. Rather, their presence is only negative when you’re going through a bout of anxiety. Don’t hang around these people when you’re in that state.
Going further, there may be others who you need to cut out of your life completely for your own mental well-being—there is nothing wrong with that.
There are ways of soothing your nerves that are easily accessible and totally free (usually), and they all involve your senses. Here’s a short list:
- Sound—Listen to calming music or, better yet, if you play an instrument, start playing it. There are other ways sound can soothe your nerves as well—wind chimes, waves hitting the beach, maybe even the sound of cicadas. Without a doubt, you can find hours long videos of these on YouTube.
- Sight—Look at something that relaxes you—an art book, family photos, etc.
- Smell—There are many smells that have a natural soothing quality to them. Whether it’s incense, candles, essential oils, or flowers you have in your home.
- Taste—Herbal tea can be a great way of soothing your nerves.
- Touch—Give yourself a massage, pet your dog or cat, or go outside and breathe in some fresh air.
Keep Yourself Moving
If you want to see just how anxious you can make yourself, sit around doing nothing about what’s giving you anxiety.
In our modern world, anxiety typically involves deadlines, relationship problems, and work of any kind. For those with chronic anxiety, the stress of these things can easily become overwhelming.
But that doesn’t mean avoiding them will make you any less anxious—quite the opposite.
Remember: you don’t have to get everything done today or even tomorrow. Just start chipping away at things. Anxiety typically decreases in direct proportion to how much progress you’re making in these various areas of your life.
What’s more, “keeping yourself moving” doesn’t have to involve “getting things done”. As stated above, those with chronic anxiety typically feel anxiety about everything and nothing at the same time—it’s as if the fight-or-flight response just won’t shut off—so at a certain point, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you just need to do something besides sitting around feeling anxious.
- Go for a light walk or bike ride,
- Learn some at-home Yoga (again, plenty of material on that for free on YouTube),
- Do some research into a new hobbie—and start it!
Self-Help Is Invaluable, But Professional Help Is Always Available
There are many resources available that can help you with managing chronic anxiety and other behavioral and mental health disorders. These are more common than you may think, and you’re definitely not alone.
Again, you’re in control and you can set your own boundaries—treatment options are typically individualized based on your specific needs and lifestyle.
While it may seem hopeless now, it won’t forever: that’s a guarantee.