Why is it that over 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from an anxiety disorder? The truth is that often enough we cannot get rid of negative emotions whenever we feel like. Sometimes we attempt to distract ourselves or even think more positively, but with limited success, since emotions tend to grab hold and cling on. Watch video where Leonard Cohen says “Admitting I had depression is like coming out of the closet…”
The true reason it is so hard to combat anxiety and depression is that they are there for a reason – to warn us of danger and gear up our minds and bodies for escape or self-protection. It is a survival technique that we use to conserve energy to face either a loss or uncertainty, whether it is true or even fabricated.
Also Read: Ten Ways To Reduce Anxiety
In order to deal effectively with anxiety or depression, we need to first understand in simple terms why they exist and why negative emotions are so hard to manage.
- Survival– Anxiety is a psychological, physiological and behaviour state induced in animals and humans by a threat to well-being or survival, either actual or potential. We are wired for survival, so we can easily be stuck in a vicious cycle if not aware.
- Avoidance– Trying to shove negative emotions aside or pretend they don’t exist doesn’t always work. Your mind will be bringing them up again as a reminder that you have an ongoing and unresolved issue to take care of. Avoidance may cause re-occurrence of negative emotions.
- Thoughts– Have you heard of the old saying “Thoughts are things”? We actually have both mental and physical reactions to mental images or thoughts as we create them. You can get stressed by thoughts about an event as by the event itself. When negative feelings become chronic, they wear out your mind and body, and may cause inflammation, hormonal imbalance or impaired immunity.
- Chain Reaction – You can start out with a simple worry about a mundane thought or event that can lead to more stressful and dire thoughts. This chain reaction can escalate into more serious anxiety and even depression of not addressed. One common example is money. If you have a simple thought, such as, “I have so many bills to pay” then the next thought is “What if I lose my job?”. This type of rumination can turn a controllable problem into a set of unsurmountable difficulties.
- Coping – Sometimes we can’t cope or don’t understand how best to cope and we turn to self-defeating behaviour, such as, over-eating or blaming others for our negative feelings. Getting angry and blaming others can end up straining your relationships.
Simple Coping Strategies
- Support– Negative emotions can be difficult to manage alone because it’s so hard to step out of your point of view and see things objectively. It can help to get support and feedback from a friend, colleague or family member.
- Meditation– One aspect of anxiety is racing thoughts that won’t go away. Meditation helps with this part of the problem by quieting the overactive mind. Instead of buying into your fearful thoughts, you can start identifying with the silence that exists between every mental action.
- Action– Opposite action is a behavioral therapy skill that helps lessen the impact of self-destructive tendencies caused by anxiety and depression. One of the common traits of anxiety disorder is feeling trapped, unable to do the things we have to do. For many, having an impulse to do healthy things and then simply going out and doing them gets short circuited. So, motivating yourself to take action is the key, so you change your energy.
Although negative emotions are a challenge, there are effective ways to cope. By learning about your feelings and practicing simple strategies as a daily routine and being aware of your thoughts, you will become more tolerant of them and less likely to get caught up in a wave of hopelessness, and consequently with anxiety and depression.