With the possibility of our stress affecting our children’s futures, it is imperative to get professional help if you need it. Anxiety disorders and anxiety in general can often be treated without the use of prescription medication, although in some cases prescription drugs can be useful to help reduce stress and control panic attacks in the short term.1 Counseling or treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to be extremely effective in dealing with anxiety and other mental disorders.
Whether you need medication or not, however, determining whether your level of stress or anxiety is normal or excessive can help you find the courage to get the help you do need, or to take some at-home steps to bring your stress back down to a healthy level. We’ll try to answer the question: Do I Need Help for my Anxiety and Stress?
Normal Stress Versus Chronic Stress
The physical symptoms of normal stress are short-lived, relatively mild and do not interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks. Chronic stress, on the other hand, is characterized by more severe symptoms that can actually increase the severity of your stress:
- Fatigue or exhaustion during the day, followed by an inability to sleep at night
- Obesity, malnutrition, weight loss and other effects of a poor diet
- Lack of interest in appearance, or anxiety related to the need for a perfect appearance
- Depersonalization, or the feeling of not being a real person or of watching yourself from a distance
- The feeling that your responsibilities are more than you can handle, or are piling up on you
- Development or worsening of anxiety or any mental health disorder, including substance abuse addiction
Any level of irrational fear can also be a sign of the development of anxiety, especially if you experience a panic attack. If your friends or loved ones have started commenting on your stress levels or your work load, it may be time to seek professional help.
Stress and Anxiety Management Tips You Can Use Today
Stress management shouldn’t wait until your stress and anxiety levels have hit the roof. In fact, stress management is just as important to your overall health as things such as proper diet, regular exercise and a healthy home environment.
When stress occurs, take a few deep breaths and trust your body to regain its balance. This can help keep regular levels of stress manageable, as well as reduce the intensity and duration of panic attacks if one should occur. Your hormone levels will return to normal, the physical symptoms associated with high stress hormone levels will subside and, the majority of the time, nothing bad will happen. Worry will only make the problem worse.
Understand the Link Between Your Body and Your Mind.
They have more to do with one another than many people realize. A positive attitude will go a long way toward boosting your immune system and helping with hormone balance, and good diet and exercise will also have beneficial effects on your ability to handle stress.
Get Rid of the Stressors That You Can.
Don’t be afraid to say “No” to responsibilities that you can’t handle. Take the smaller paycheck over those hours of overtime that you could be spending with your family instead. Get rid of the clutter in your house that you simply don’t need; years of family heirlooms may be hard to part with, but if you don’t really want them, they are taking up brain space and causing you to waste energy on trying to ignore them.
Find More Quiet Time.
Just like small children need an hour or two of sleep in the afternoon, adults still need some time to just be quietly by themselves. You may not be able to snooze, but you can turn off the radio, television, cell phone, tablet and pager for a while and read, write or even eat a meal by yourself in peaceful silence. Even if you should be doing something else, take advantage of those moments when you have some quiet time.
Take Time for Friends and Family, Too.
You don’t need to have a vibrant and active social life; a date with a few good friends once a week and at least one meal with your family every day can bring about a huge mood boost and maybe fill a void that you didn’t even realize existed. While texting and social media are convenient ways to connect, nothing beats the connection of a one-on-one conversation.
Anxiety is a complicated matter, and it’s very easy for sufferers to make it even more complicated. The good news, however, is that the human brain is extremely adaptable. The simplest steps can start repairing the damage that chronic stress may have caused.
Reducing anxiety and better managing stress can also help the body begin to heal itself, and even sufferers of chronic illnesses may experience a reduction in symptoms and a better quality of life simply by learning to handle stress better. You don’t have to let life overwhelm you; with some simple lifestyle changes, a little bit of honesty, and belief in yourself, you can beat anxiety.