Anxiety is a part of life, but it’s possible not to let it get the best of you. Whether you get situational anxiety all the time, or just occasionally, it may hold you back from a lot in life.
The thing is, some anxiety is good – you just don’t want it to get out of hand. Anxiety disorders are considered the most common form of mental illness, and, if you suffer from it, know that you’re not alone. Anxiety exists as a form of self-preservation and an evolutionary mechanism to help prepare us for threats.
The problem is, today, we’ve let it get the better of us. A little is ok, but constant anxiety can be debilitating. This article will look at the ways to deal with situational anxiety.
What Is Situational Anxiety?
This is a form of anxiety when you get anxious about something that’s coming up. New situations or life changes can easily cause it.
This is a very common form of anxiety that can affect people in different ways. This can include being stuck in tight spaces or becoming confined in crowds. Two different people suffering from anxiety might experience this in different ways. The person with situational anxiety might suffer more and experience panic attacks while in crowds.
This can also happen during major life events and changes. Moving to a new town, starting a new job, beginning college, or even getting married are all forms of anxiety that are situational.
It can also come from having to face a conversation that you are dreading or something small, like using a public restroom. It’s basically any experience that can make the individual uncomfortable, and different people experience it to varying degrees.
It’s normal to be nervous and have butterflies during some of these significant life changes, but when they completely overwhelm you is when the issue needs addressing. You can’t stop life from changing, but you can change how you respond and react to it.
True medical advice will always be paramount if you have a real affliction so seeking a professional will always be the first, and most important step.
Today, we want to look at 4 ways to deal with situational anxiety.
1. Look At The Downside Of Not Addressing The Situation
As tough as dealing with things in life can be, not dealing with them can send you down a worse path. An awkward conversation may feel overwhelming, but you know that it’s better to get it over and done with. If you don’t, the anxiety will just continue to grow to the point of consuming you.
There is no one that knows you better than you do, and you have to recognize the way you feel when avoiding things. Whenever you don’t want to deal with a situation, remind yourself how much worse you know you will feel by letting it fester.
2. Expose Yourself
Exposure therapy is a scientifically-backed way to help a person deal with specific fears. It involves intentionally “exposing” yourself to whatever it is making you uncomfortable.
While it sounds extreme, it isn’t that bad. It’s not about diving right into the deep end but slowly taking the steps to become more comfortable with something stressful.
For example, if you have a fear of public speaking – and you need to do it for a job or event – exposure therapy can help. You wouldn’t start by speaking in front of a group of five hundred people but start with a small book club of 6 to 8 people.
You would then gradually start speaking in front of slightly larger groups until the whole process becomes more comfortable. This is exposure therapy, and it’s about making small gradual improvements.
3. Building A Routine
When you have identified which situations cause you anxiety, you can then design a game plan around it. Think of it as a pre-performance routine and it’s like doing a dress rehearsal for the main event.
For example, if you’re nervous about flying, you can come up with a routine that may involve stretching, deep breathing, going to the bathroom, and reading before you fly.
You can practice this beforehand and it can help in calming you. When you then perform the routine before flying, it can help trigger that sense of calmness you practiced before. Top-level athletes need to go through specific pre-game routines to get into the right headspace to perform – this is no different.
Psychologists say that anything that puts you into a calmer state allows you to better handle stress when it shows up.
4. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Just remembering to breathe can relieve many anxious situations. Most people are shallow breathers and are not taking the deep breaths to oxygenate the body. When stressful situations hit, stress hormones go up and breathing becomes shallower.
This is when you really want to focus on deep breathing to help lower those rising stress hormones. Specifically, you want to breathe in deeply through the nose and exhale slowly. Imagine yourself filling your belly with air and slowly releasing it.
Remember: Breathe through the nose as this will lower stress hormones compared to breathing through the mouth. When you breathe through the mouth, the body sees it as more of a panic situation as it’s not the normal way for the body to receive oxygen.
So focus on that deep nose breathing and exhaling. This will calm the body down and, as mentioned in the last point, calmness allows for better handling of stress.
Final Thoughts On Situational Anxiety
Anxiety will always be there, but it doesn’t have to control your life. In fact, just recognizing it will always be around – and you can’t prevent that – is a way of dealing with it.
Remember, it’s normal to face situational anxiety from time to time, but you don’t want it to impede you from living your life. There are ways to deal with it, backed by science, and you can soon learn to control it – instead of it controlling you.
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