I don't think I want to live if I have to go on feeling ( Anxiety ) like this..


I hear this remark ‘’ I don't think I want to live if I have to go on feeling Anxiety like this ‘’ all too often from anxiety sufferers. They say it matter-of-factly or dramatically, but they all feel the same way: if anxiety symptoms are going to rule their lives, then their lives don't seem worth living.

Anxiety-Management Techniques: Effective Alternatives to Medication

Control - Distressing Physical Arousal :

Panic is the physical arousal that sends many clients running for Xanax. Physical symptoms of anxiety include constant heightened physical tension in the jaw, neck, and back, as well as an emotional-somatic feeling of doom or dread in the pit of the stomach. The feeling of doom will always set off a mental search for what might be causing it.
Bad as these symptoms are, there are methods that, when followed regularly as lifelong habits, offer tremendous relief.
Tech 1 : Manage the Body.
Telling anxiety-prone clients to take care of their bodies by eating right, avoiding alcohol, nicotine, sugar, and caffeine, and exercising is a strikingly ordinary "prescription," but not doing these things can undermine the effectiveness of other anti-anxiety techniques.
Tech 2: Breathe.
The biggest block to making breathing truly helpful is the time it takes to practice it until it becomes an ingrained habit. Most relaxation books teach clients to practice breathing once a day for 10 minutes, but I've never found a people who actually learned how to do it from this one, daily, concentrated dose. I don't teach people to breathe for lengthy periods until they've practiced it for very short periods many times a day. I ask them to do the conscious, deep breathing for about one minute at a time, 10 to 15 times per day, every time they find themselves waiting for something--the water to boil, the phone to ring, their doctor's appointment, the line to move at the bank. This will eventually help them associate breathing with all of their surroundings and activities. This way, they're more likely to actually remember to breathe when anxiety spikes.
Tech 3:  Mindful Awareness.
A wonderful technique, this simple "mindful awareness" exercise has two simple steps, repeated several times.
1. Clients close their eyes and breathe, noticing the body, how the intake of air feels, how the heart beats, what sensations they have in the gut, etc.
2. With their eyes still closed, clients purposefully shift their awareness away from their bodies to everything they can hear or smell or feel through their skin.
By shifting awareness back and forth several times between what's going on in their bodies and what's going on around them, people learn in a physical way that they can control what aspects of their world--internal or external--they'll notice. This gives them an internal locus of control, showing them, that when they can ignore physical sensations, they can stop making the catastrophic interpretations that actually bring on panic or worry. It's a simple technique, which allows them to feel more in control as they stay mindful of the present.


Control - Tension, Stress, and Dread :

Many people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience high levels of tension that are physically uncomfortable and compel them to search frantically for the reasons behind their anxiety. They hope they can "solve" whatever problem seems to be causing anxiety and thus relieve its symptoms. But since much of their heightened tension isn't about a real problem, they simply waste time running around their inner maze of self-perpetuating worry. And even if their tension does stem from psychological or neurobiological causes, there are ways to eliminate the symptoms of chronic worry before addressing those dimensions. The following methods are most helpful for diminishing chronic tension.
Tech 4: Don't Listen When Worry Calls Your Name.
This feeling of dread and tension, experienced by most GAD clients, actually comprises a state of low-grade fear, which can also cause other physical symptoms, like headache, temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain, and ulcers.
Few realize that the feeling of dread is just the emotional manifestation of physical tension. This "Don't Listen" method decreases this tension by combining a decision to ignore the voice of worry with a cue for the relaxation state. Early in treatment, GAD clients learn progressive muscle relaxation to get relief. I always teach them how to cue up relaxation several times throughout the day by drawing a breath and remembering how they feel at the end of the relaxation exercise. We usually pair that deeply relaxed state with a color, image, and word to strengthen associations with muscle relaxation and make it easier to cue the sensation at will.
We then use that ability to relax to counteract the voice of worry. Clients must first learn that worry is a habit with a neurobiological underpinning. Even when a person isn't particularly worried about anything, an anxiety-prone brain can create a sense of doom, which then causes hyper-vigilance as the person tries to figure out what's wrong.
To stop listening to that command to worry, I suggested that just think "It's just my anxious brain firing wrong." This would be the cue to begin relaxation breathing, which would stop the physical sensations of dread that trigger the radar.
Tech 5: Knowing, Not Showing, Anger.
Anger can be so anxiety-provoking that a client may not allow himself to know he's angry. I often find that clients with GAD have an undetected fear of being angry.. As with other anxious clients, the acute anxiety was compelling enough to command the therapy time, and it would have been possible to ignore the anger connection. However, as long as anger stays untreated, the anxious client's symptoms will stay in place.
When a client fears anger because of past experience--when she remembers the terrifying rage of a parent, or was severely condemned for showing any anger herself--the very feeling of anger, even though it remains unconscious, can produce anxiety. The key to relieving this kind of anxiety is to decrease the client's sense of tension and stress, while raising the consciousness of anger so that it can be dealt with in therapy. I've found that simply being able to feel and admit to anger in sessions, and to begin working on how to safely express it, diminishes anxiety. I tell clients, "To know you're angry doesn't require you to show you're angry."
The technique is simple. I instruct people that the next time they're stricken with anxiety, they should immediately sit down and write as many answers as possible to this specific question, "If I were angry, what might I be angry about?"  I tell them to restrict their answers to single words or brief phrases. The hypothetical nature of the question is a key feature, because it doesn't make them feel committed to the idea that they're angry. They may destroy the list or bring it in for discussion, but I ask them to at least tell me their reactions to writing this list. Without fail, this exercise has helped some of my anxious clients begin to get insight into the connection between their anger and their anxiety, which opens the door to deeper levels of psychotherapy that can resolve long-standing anger issues.
Tech 6: Have a Little Fun.
Laughing is a great way to increase good feelings and discharge tension. The problem for anxious clients is that they take life so seriously that they stop creating fun in their lives, and they  stop experiencing life's humorous moments. Everything becomes a potential problem, rather than a way to feel joy or delight.
 Fun-starved clients sometimes need a "prescription," like "Take two hours of comedy club and mix with a special friend, once a week" or "Plan one weekend out of town with your husband every two months." Not surprisingly, tightly wired workaholics initially need to make fun a serious goal of treatment, something to be pursued with some of the same doggedness they put into work.  But once they actually find themselves laughing and enjoying themselves, they become less tightly wired, less dogged, and more carefree. Laughter itself is one of the best "medications" of all for tension and anxiety.

Control : The Mental Anguish of Rumination :

The final methods are those that deal with the difficult problem of a brain that won't stop thinking about distressing thoughts. Worries predominate in social phobia, GAD, and other kinds of anxiety, and continual rumination can create nausea and tension, destroying every good thing in life. A metaphor drawn from nature for this kind of worry would be kudzu, the nearly unkillable plant that proliferates wildly, suffocating every other form of life, just as continual worry suffocates clients' mental and emotional lives.
I don't believe rumination is caused by deep-seated conflict in the way anger-anxiety might be; I think it's almost entirely a neurobiologically driven feature of anxiety. What clients usually worry about--often ordinary, day-to-day concerns--is less important than the omnipresence of the worry. Their brains keep the worry humming along in the background, generating tension or sick feelings, destroying concentration, and diminishing the capacity to pay attention to the good things in life. Seeking reassurance or trying to solve the problem they're worrying about becomes their sole mental activity, obscuring the landscape of their lives. Nor can ruminators ever get enough reassurance to stop worrying altogether. If one worry is resolved, another pops right up--there's always a fresh "worry du jour."
Therapy with these clients shouldn't focus on any specific worry, but rather on the act of worrying itself. If a ruminating brain is like an engine stuck in gear and overheating, then slowing or stopping it gives it a chance to cool off. The more rumination is interrupted, the less likely it'll be to continue. The following methods are the most effective in eliminating rumination.
Tech 7: Turning It Off.
I've borrowed the concept of "clearing space" to turn off and quiet the ruminative mind. I ask the client to sit quietly with eyes closed and focus on an image of an open container ready to receive every issue on his or her mind. She's then instructed to see and name each issue or worry, and imagine putting it into the container. When no more issues come to mind, I suggest that the client mentally "put a lid" on the container and place it on a shelf or in some other out of the way place until she needs to go back to get something from it. Once the jar is on the shelf, the client invites into the space left in her mind whatever is the most important current thought or feeling. Perhaps he /she's at the office and needs to think about a work-related issue, or needs to shop and should plan what she'll buy, or is with friends and wants to focus on what they're saying. At night, right before sleep, the client is asked to invite a peaceful thought to focus on while drifting off.
Make a written list of the issues that couldn't turn off and put the list in a desk drawer to wait for him overnight, or even place it in his freezer to help "chill out." Any tangible technique is fine, such as Al Anon's idea of a "God Box" to hold slips of paper, each with a worry written down that the client is turning over to God. The goal of "turning it off" is to give the ruminative mind a chance to rest and calm down.
Tech 8: Persistent Interruption of Rumination.
Ruminative worry has a life of its own, consistently interfering with every other thought in people's mind. Thought-stopping/ thought-replacing is the most effective cognitive-therapy technique for interrupting chronic rumination, but I find the key to making it work is persistence . Clients / Sufferer’s very quickly pick up on the technique itself, but they're always shocked by how rumination can subvert all their good efforts, and by how persistently they have to keep at it to succeed.  And say the technique didn't work, because they'd tried it 20 to 30 times in a day and they still were ruminating. I tell them that they must do it every time they catch themselves ruminating, even if it is 1,000 times a day or more! That's what I mean by persistence.
Tech 9: Worry Well, But Only Once.
Some worries just have to be faced head-on, and worrying about them the right way can help eliminate secondary, unnecessary worrying. Although there's always a level of legitimate worry about any medical problem, some medical conditions, like high thyroid, create anxiety symptomatology. The client must: (1) worry through all the issues; (2) do anything that must be done at the present time; (3) set a time when it'll be necessary to think about the worry again; (4) write that time on a calendar; and (5) whenever the thought pops up again, say, "Stop! I already worried!" and divert her thoughts as quickly as possible to another activity.
It's critical to this method to cover all the bases, but 10 minutes, surprisingly, is an adequate amount of time in which to do that.
Tech 10: Learn to Plan Instead of Worry.
A big difference between planning and worrying is that a good plan doesn't need constant review. An anxious brain, however, will reconsider a plan over and over to be sure it's the right plan. This is all just ruminating worry disguising itself as making a plan.
Clients who ruminate about a worry always try to get rid of it by seeking the reassurance that it's unfounded. They believe that if they get the right kind of solution to their problem--the right piece of information or the best reassurance--they'll then be rid of the worry once and for all. They want to be absolutely sure, for example, that a minor mistake they made at work won't result in their being fired. In reality, however, a ruminating brain will simply find some flaw in the most fail-safe reassurance and set the client off on the track of seeking an even better one.
One good way to get out of the reassurance trap is to use the fundamentals of planning. This simple but often overlooked skill can make a big difference in calming a ruminative mind. I teach people how to replace worrying with planning. For most, this includes: (1) concretely identifying a problem; (2) listing the problem-solving options; (3) picking one of the options; and (4) writing out a plan of action. To be successful with this approach, clients must also have learned to apply the thought-stopping/thought-replacing tools, or they'll turn planning into endless cycles of re-planning.
After they make a plan, ruminating clients will feel better for a few minutes and then start "reviewing the plan"--a standard mental trick of their anxiety disorder. The rumination makes them feel overwhelmed, which triggers their desire for reassurance. But when they've actually made the plan, they can use the fact that they have the plan as a concrete reassurance to prevent the round-robin of ruminative re-planning. The plan becomes part of the thought-stopping statement, "Stop! I have a plan!" It also helps stop endless reassurance-seeking, because it provides written solutions even to problems the ruminator considered hopelessly complex.
While these techniques aren't complicated or technically difficult to teach, they do require patience and determination from both therapist and client. For best results, they also demand clinical knowledge of how and why they work, and with what sorts of issues; they can't simply be used as all-purpose applications, good for anybody in any circumstance.
But the rewards of teaching people how to use these deceptively simple, un-dramatic, and un-gimmicky methods are great. While clients in this culture have been indoctrinated to want and expect instantaneous relief from their discomfort at the pop of a pill, we can show them we have something better to offer. We can give people a lasting sense of their own power and competence by helping them learn to work actively with their own symptoms, to conquer anxiety through their own efforts--and do this in a non-manipulative, respectful, engaging way. People like learning that they have some control over their feelings; it gives them more self-confidence to know they're not the slaves of physiological arousal or runaway mental patterns. And what we teach them is like playing the piano or riding a bicycle: they own it for life; it becomes a part of their human repertoire. What medication can make that claim?
Thank You. Take Care.

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