BENGALURU: Have you been suffering from repeated spells of anxiety? People with anxiety can often get trapped in a cycle or a loop of negative thoughts. An individual may experience various different triggers that set off an anxiety attack. Situations that spark uncertainty about the future, such as the ongoing pandemic, can worsen symptoms. A trigger can be as simple as an every-day object - say for example, seeing a bottle of sanitizer, certain colours or disturbing patterns, needles, etc can trigger fear and compel the individual to ruminate or completely lose focus on tasks at hand. The following are some simple tips to help cope with general symptoms of anxiety:
Use this time to understand your anxiety triggers Map out a chart to help capture various triggers and the thought patterns that are associated with them. Spend some time every day with your thoughts to understand the link between thought, emotion and behaviour. You could rank each trigger or thought pattern with a corresponding level of fear/anxiety that it elicits in you, and try to devise methods to overcome these gradually.
Finding clarity with the help of distraction and relaxation exercises Writing, talking loudly to yourself, talking to a loved and trusted person or talking to a therapist are ways in which it becomes easier for you to see your thoughts more clearly. Slowly replace anxiety causing thought patterns with a more neutral or positive outlook. When the fear is overwhelming, use distraction to stop spiralling in a negative loop of thoughts and practice relaxation exercises.
Seek community support Form a support group or become part of a pre-existing one to discuss your experiences and share coping strategies with each other. Sometimes just talking to someone and explaining what you are experiencing in detail will help ease the pain, however ensure that it is a neutral or empathetic listener.
Manage triggers News items and social media posts are some of the most common triggers for people with anxiety. Avoid mindless scrolling and make an effort to consciously stay away from news or social media outlets that trigger fear of the future. Use credible news sources and check these once or twice a day.
Regulate your daily schedule Spend more time doing activities that help you focus your attention and make you feel in control of your situation. This could be drawing/painting, online window shopping, engaging online games, cooking etc. Keep a certain time of the day for exercise, meditation, yoga to relieve stress and mental fatigue. Resist the temptation to check emails, messages or take work phone calls after working hours. If you are overwhelmed by fear, seek professional help as antianxiety medication may be required if it causing significant dysfunction in day-to-day life. (The author is a consultant psychiatrist, Aster RV Hospital)