How Much Stress Is Too Much?

Anxiety is normal. But when the stress of life becomes too difficult to cope with, an anxiety disorder may be to blame. These disorders affect around 1 in 5 adults in the US, and women are more than twice as likely as men to develop one. Try these 3 tips for calming down and improving mental health.

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1. Ground yourself

Anxiety lives in the future. People can spiral by worrying about what will or could happen. The quickest antidote to stopping an anxious spiral is to focus on the present. Check in with what’s happening right now. Tune in to the body. During the fight or flight response, the breath can quicken, and people can start to feel hot or sweaty. To counteract this response, try to take a few deep breaths and focus on the present.

2. Fact-check your thoughts

A little reassurance can go a long way. Often, people fixate on worst-case scenarios that are unlikely to happen. For example, someone might feel anxious about completing a presentation at work. Instead of thinking of the worst thing that could go wrong, try to reframe the situation realistically. Part of the presentation may go well, and other aspects may not go quite as well. Either way, things will be okay. Getting into a habit of reframing can significantly help the brain to reduce anxious thoughts.

3. Practice good health habits

Some dietary vices, such as sugar, alcohol, or caffeine, can all make anxiety worse. When a person feels stressed, the temptation to reach for chocolate, candy, or a drink can be intense. But research shows that too much of these will make anxiety worse. Try to enjoy vices in moderation and stay hydrated.

When to consider medication

If a person is having trouble managing an anxiety disorder, medication can be a helpful treatment. A healthcare provider may recommend a beta-blocker, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), tricyclics, or more. If any of these cause unwanted side effects or symptoms, speak with a healthcare provider. There are many treatment options, and there may be some trial and error involved in finding the one that works best.

Additional options

Some additional treatment options can be useful for managing anxiety and improving mental health. Talk therapy, a meditation practice, or journaling are all strategies that many people use for decreasing anxiety. For more information, speak with a healthcare provider.

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