Recommending ways to deal with anxiety

By Kyle Garnett

Special to the Express

Have you been wondering if you suffer from anxiety?

Many of us will encounter anxiety at some point in our lives. But at what point does it get in the way of life?

Know that anxiety is a flight, fight and freeze response to danger. So if you were in a true danger situation, your brain and body has an internal alarm system to keep you safe.

But as you go through life, many factors can contribute to anxiety becoming problematic which include genetic history of anxiety, environmental factors, situational stress, triggering life events such as a loss or change in life. Some of the symptoms that you may experience with anxiety include muscle tension, nausea, heart racing, muscle tremors as well as tightness in the chest. This is your body going into danger response. If you were in true danger, your body’s heart races for example, to help pump blood to the limbs so that you can flee from danger.

So what I would want you to know here is that anxiety is a very normal experience that I would never want to rid you of.

But often our alarm is going off at the wrong time, when there isn’t really danger present. So it is about retraining the brain to be able to detect when one is in true danger and when your internal alarm system is working overtime?

You may be wondering now how do I do this? The beginning of any type of anxiety starts with hyperventilating. So the first way of hitting the reset button on your alarm is to breathe and get oxygen into your body again. Then the symptoms slow down and the mind can start thinking rationally.

I recommend deep breathing 15 times daily, especially at the beginning. I get in my car, one deep breath, I have breakfast, one deep breath. All of the sudden your breath becomes a regular part of your day. With this daily practice, you are more likely to default to deep breathing when in a more aroused state.

Other great starting points for anxiety include looking at lifestyle factors such as level of use of alcohol, drugs, caffeine, sugar, ones eating habits as well as exercise.

The important point here is that anything that effects the central nervous system negatively puts stress on the body and thus one fires for anxiety that much quicker.

So you may start with making a lifestyle change goal such as reducing caffeine or making exercise a priority. Know that research has shown 30 minutes exercise three times weekly has similar benefits to taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. Lifestyle factors are not about making quick fixes, but rather making lifestyle changes by creating healthy habits over time.

In addition, mindfulness is a great way to turn the volume down on anxiety. Often anxiety takes our mind to the past which is over and the future which has not happened yet.

Mindfulness is really about training the brain to stay with the only moment we are truly living the present. This takes time and practice.

I encourage you to research a mindful three minute breathing space which is a great place to start.

Another way to increase mindfulness in everyday life is to really ‘take in’ your current experience. What do you see, touch, taste, smell and hear? Overtime your mind stays with your body and experience.

The opposite of your anxiety response is relaxation.

So it is imperative to find ways to relax. We all are different in our ways to find relaxation but examples include walking, visiting a friend, time in nature, engaging in a hobby or maybe even doing something creative such as music or art.

These activities not only elicit a relaxation response but have the dual benefit of creating joy, connection, meaning and purpose.

Lastly, I would want you to know that anxiety is very treatable. Sometimes the hardest step can be identifying and acknowledging, hey I think I have something to work on here.

Once that volume of anxiety turns down, possibilities and life starts opening up again.

Kyle Garnett MSW, RSW, is a private counsellor in Red Deer.

Just Posted

Mustard Seed gets support again from PCN Women’s Fun Run

Run raised just over $20,000 last year for The Mustard Seed

Red Deer RCMP make several arrests this month

Recent arrests include the seizure of various drugs and weapons

Sentencing postponed in Castor triple homicide

Jason Klaus and Josh Frank will appear in court again Feb. 14th

Creep Catcher member sentenced in Red Deer court Monday

Carl Young to be fined and placed on probation for 12 months, among other conditions

WATCH: Innisfail’s Berkley the bear celebrates first birthday

Discovery Wildlife Park’s newest Kodiak is excited for life this winter

WATCH: Setters Place officially opens in advance of the 2019 Canada Games

Red Deer is one step closer to the 2019 Canada Winter Games the opening of Setters Place

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by latest data breach

Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it had been notified

Man faces 48 charges in string of random Toronto shootings

The string of unprovoked shootings began Jan.9, say police

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Most Read