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Coping With Anxiety

Coping With Anxiety - Stress Response
Coping with anxiety begins with an understanding of the body's stress response. The body undergoes three stages of stress. These stages are as follows:

Fight or Flight: During this stage, the body perceives threatened danger. A surge of energy overtakes the body, enabling a person to fight off the threat or flee from the danger at hand.

Resistance: This stage occurs when danger remains beyond the fight or flight period. The body secretes several hormones in order to mobilize the body during long-term stress.

Exhaustion: If the body successfully completes the first two stages, it will enter a third stage, exhaustion. This is a time when the fatigued body replenishes itself.

Coping With Anxiety - When Does Stress Become a Problem?
Coping with anxiety is a necessity in our modern fast-paced world. Busy schedules, intensified by traffic jams, money problems, and relational difficulties keep many people in chronic states of stress.

Stress becomes a problem when a person undergoes a sense of prolonged danger. During the fight or flight and resistance stages, the body produces many helpful hormones. However, excessive amounts of these same substances can cause damaging effects to the body. For instance, adrenaline helps with energy production during stressful periods. Prolonged use of adrenaline by the body, however, leads to a weakening of the heart. Cortisol and vasopressin, both released during the resistance stage, raise blood pressure and blood sugar levels and may narrow artery walls by increasing blood platelets.

During prolonged stress, the body rarely has time to replenish itself. The body remains in a cycle of fighting, fleeing, and resisting, with little or no time to rest. This affects the body's sleep cycle, only increasing the body's fatigue and decreasing full restoration.

Coping With Anxiety - Symptoms
Coping with anxiety begins with the understanding of the symptoms of excess stress. These symptoms include: exhaustion, sleep problems, tension headaches, constant worry, dark circles under the eyes, bowel disturbances, lowered immune function, irritability or angry outbursts, lack of concentration, and so on.

If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of anxiety, check with your health professional. He or she can diagnose anxiety by evaluating your medical and personal history. Dealing with anxiety is easier when you have help.

Coping With Anxiety - Steps to a Worry-free Existence
Coping with anxiety entails that a person actively engage in positive changes. There are steps that one can take to encounter safety from a worrisome world.

Coping with stress and anxiety includes the following steps:

  • Laugh: Don't take your life so seriously. A sense of humor helps overcome worry by distracting the mind. Laughter may also produce endorphins, which help ease pain and offer a sense of relaxation and joy. Tell a joke, watch a comedy, and laugh when disaster strikes. You'll feel better with a smile on your face.

  • Make plans: Worrying solves nothing. It cannot change situations or outcomes. The only way change comes about is through action. Instead of worrying, empower yourself by acting toward change. Worried about money? Create and implement a budget or seek professional financial counsel. Productivity creates an atmosphere of positive change that worry cannot achieve and makes overcoming anxiety possible.

  • Herbs: There are several herbs one may use to help alleviate feelings of stress. Adaptogenic herbs, such as the ginsengs and milk thistle are good herbs to consider. Adaptogens, or nerve tonics, help strengthen the body's resistance to stress. As always, follow the directions on the bottle and check with your doctor before beginning any herbal routine.

  • Seek professional help: Having someone with whom you can discuss your worries may help lessen anxiety. A good counselor will listen attentively, enabling you to discover your underlying concerns. Together, you can create productive means of handling stress, so that you may heal emotionally and physically.

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Material referenced in Healing Anxiety With Herbs by Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D., New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

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