Managing Feelings of Anxiety & Understanding Why You Feel It

Letter tiles spelling out the word "anxiety." Playing games is one way of managing feelings of anxiety.
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

It can be hard to manage feelings of anxiety when you don’t understand what it is and why you’re feeling it. Recently I recorded a few videos where I talk about what anxiety is, why you may feel it and I offer some no-cost/low-cost tips for managing feelings of anxiety. Below you’ll find the videos followed by their audio transcripts.

Ways You Might Experience Anxiety

Anxiety. Notice what comes to your mind when you hear the word “anxiety.” You may experience anxiety as a series of racing thoughts and worries in your mind. Or you might experience it in your body, such as a racing heart, sweaty palms, a flushed face, a tightness in your chest or a tightness in your stomach. But have you ever wondered what anxiety is and why you feel it?

Believe it or not, anxiety is a normal response. It’s a response to situations that are, or that you perceive to be as stressful, unfamiliar, or scary. So I know that it sounds crazy, but there actually is a benefit to anxiety. In healthy doses, anxiety can help you to be aware and alert of what’s going on around you so that you can take necessary and appropriate action.

However, too much anxiety can be unhealthy. For some people, their feelings of anxiety are just too much and they become overwhelmed by worry or fear. So much so that they become paralyzed and they’re unable to take any sort of action.

Why You Might Have a Hard Time Managing Feelings of Anxiety

Ok. So now that you know a little bit more about what anxiety is and why it exists, let’s take a look at why anxiety might become a problem for some people.

As a I mentioned earlier, anxiety is a normal response to situations that are stressful, unfamiliar, or scary. However for some people, anxiety might become a bigger problem than that.

Genetics

One of these reasons is genetics. It’s something that’s inherited.

The Impact of Upbringing on Managing Feelings of Anxiety

Along with this, the type of environment you grow up in can have an effect too, which makes sense if you think about what it might be like to be a child raised by someone with an anxiety disorder. But it goes beyond this. For example, if your parents are overly controlling in ways that prevent you making decisions for yourself, you may find it difficult to make decisions when you’re asked to. You may find yourself frequently second guessing yourself or not trusting in your ability to make the best decisions for you.

The Impact of Life Events on Managing Feelings of Anxiety

Likewise, if you grew up in a stressful environment or experienced some sort of traumatic event or traumatic events while you were growing up, it’s quite possible that you’ll experience an anxiety disorder as well. And this makes sense, too, if you think about what the original purpose of anxiety is — that is to help protect you in scary, stressful, or unfamiliar situations. Growing up in such an environment can prime you to be in an almost constant state of anxiety because you don’t know any other way to be.

Personal Choices That Influence Managing Feelings of Anxiety

And in some situations, it’s your own choices that can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Some of these choices include smoking or drinking a lot of caffeine. There’s also reason to believe that increased time on devices and screens, or spending time on social media can affect your feelings of anxiety as well.

If you think these might apply to you, check it out for yourself. If you drink a lot of coffee, soda, or energy drinks, notice how you feel before and after you drink them. Take a break from drinking those things for a bit. What do you notice?

Likewise, take note of how you feel when you’re on or off social media. If you find that you feel better when you spend less time online, take that as a cue to take more breaks from being online. Don’t miss out on living your real life because you’re allowing yourself to become distracted by the virtual lives of others.

Tips for Managing Feelings of Anxiety

So now that you know a little bit more about what anxiety is, how can you manage your feelings of it? Fortunately there are some things that you can do to help make things more manageable. However, if your feelings of anxiety have gotten out-of-control and have become a serious problem, give these things a try, but also know that outside help may be needed.

Ok. Here are some simple, low-cost/no-cost things you can do:

Exercise and Physical Activity

One is making sure to be active and get some exercise. That can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or putting on some music and dancing. Movement can help free up the stuck energy you’re holding in your body while at the same time you’re also helping to boost the feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. To figure out what sort of activity to do, ask your body how it feels like moving and do that if you can.

Yoga

Another physical activity you can do is yoga. As a mindfulness activity, yoga can help you connect your body, mind and breath. Feeling connected in this way can help you to feel more grounded in the present moment and in a place where you aren’t worried and preoccupied with things that happened in the past or things that have yet to happen in the future. If you’ve never done yoga before, I’ll share in the description box below a video that’s geared towards complete beginners.

Meditation

Meditation has a similar benefit to yoga, only it doesn’t involve moving your body. With mindfulness meditation, you’re invited to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them. With this, the intention isn’t to go down a rabbit hole where you follow your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, but rather to simply notice them as they arise. You can use your breath as an anchor to help you to come back to yourself in the present moment. There are some mindfulness apps that you might find helpful as well, such as Breathr, calm.com, or Mindshift. Mindshift, in particular, was designed for teens dealing with anxiety.

Music

Music is another way that you can work with feelings of anxiety. Whether you make music or listen to it, music can be used to motivate and inspire. It can help you to gain new perspectives and insights about yourself and your situation. As well, you can use music to relax and to manage feelings of stress, such as with progressive muscle relaxation or guided meditation. I recently recorded a guided meditation called “Quiet Place,” that you might find to be helpful. I’ve included the link below. Likewise, you might want to create a stress-reducing playlist, and if so, I’ve included a link with some tips for creating this kind of playlist in the description box: https://www.anxiety.org/music-therapy-stress-reducing-playlist

What Helps You with Managing Feelings of Anxiety?

So, what do you think? What helps you manage your feelings of anxiety? You can share your thoughts in the comment section.

Here to Help You in Managing Feelings of Anxiety

Also, if you’ve realized that you could use some help in managing feelings of anxiety and are interested in exploring this further through music therapy, be sure to contact me. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation during which we can talk more about what your needs are.

While the reasons for anxiety may vary depending on a person’s age and stage of personal development, the therapeutic benefits of music are accessible at any age. Because of this, I’m experienced in helping children and teens, adults, and older adults in managing feelings of anxiety.

You can schedule a consult here.

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