Anxiety is a very natural human emotion, created to protect us from potential threats, writes the Voices of Youth portal.
We all feel anxious from time to time when faced with situations that are uncertain, frightening or challenging, writes this portal.
Anxiety can often manifest as a feeling of discomfort or anxiety. You may also have physical symptoms – such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headache or stomach problems…
Especially young people go through many changes and new experiences, so the feeling of anxiety is very common. And the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a new set of challenges, increasing the risk of anxiety in many.
There are things we can all do to avoid it. Here are five steps to try:
1) Take a deep breath – Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do this several times until you feel calmer.
Slow breathing through the abdomen is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do to reduce anxiety, because it increases the supply of oxygen to our brain and helps promote a feeling of calm.
Breathing too fast is common when you experience anxiety and actually causes physical symptoms such as burning in the body which causes more anxiety.
You can consider incorporating daily breathing exercises into your routine or try progressive muscle relaxation techniques, this can help you relax your body and distract your mind from worrying thoughts.
2) Talk to a friend or someone you trust – Tell them how you feel and check how they are doing.
Talking to someone else can help us get rid of the pressure we create in our minds, and it also helps solve problems that cause or contribute to your anxiety.
Remember that you too can be an important support to someone who is feeling anxious – try contacting someone this week.
3) Go back to basics – when basic needs such as good sleep and good nutrition are not met, we can easily feel upset.
Take care of your physical health this week by focusing on good sleep, eating well and engaging in some kind of physical activity, then see what differences it makes.
People sometimes consume caffeine or self-medicate with substances such as tobacco and alcohol to alleviate strong feelings of anxiety, but in the long run they will feel more anxious because of it.
4) Incorporate soothing activities into your daily routine – Try to spend at least an hour doing an activity that makes you feel better, such as reading a favorite book, drawing or writing a diary.
Try to limit things that could make you feel anxious, such as constantly refreshing the news or feeding on social media.
Feelings of unpreparedness and haste can also cause a lot of anxiety and stress. If you know you have something important ahead of you, like a test at school or a deadline at work, try to plan ahead and give yourself time to prepare.
5) Seek extra support if you regularly have anxiety symptoms that interfere with your daily life.
Think about whether or not your anxiety negatively affects your quality of life, studies, work, relationships, and ability to take care of yourself in proportion to the way you could normally respond in a stressful situation.
When things seem too big for you to handle on your own, your school, health facility, or other community services can provide you with important support.
Seeking help is your human right and a sign of strength – it shows self-awareness and courage to overcome something difficult.
If you do not know where to go, ask someone you trust or seek support online.
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