While there’s an abundance of techniques you can try to instantly calm the anxiety that you’re feeling during your most panicked moments, what can you expect long term? Can anxiety ever be ‘cured’ or totally overcome?
We know that anxiety is a lot more complex than ‘having a worry’, and each person who goes through it has their own personal version of hell.
As much as research tells us right now, while anxiety may eventually be overcome by some people, for many others it’s more a case of accepting it, managing it, and working with yourself to find ways to lessen or ease it.
Wrestling with your own thoughts is never easy and even recognising that your thought patterns need to change is phenomenal. A lot of people would rather not go on a journey through their own mind, and instead find it easier to just try to cut out what’s making them anxious in the first place (if they can even identify it… anxiety sounds hella fun).
Counsellor Tasnima Kemali assures us that this is a totally natural and logical response, but it’s not all that helpful in the long term.
Tasnima tells us: ‘To ‘get rid’ of anxiety, a typical behavioural response to shake feeling the anxiety again is to avoid dealing with the trigger, e.g. if you suffer social anxiety – you might want to stay home and avoid meeting new people (trigger).
‘This stems from your innate survival thinking, you’re trying to protect yourself, however it can lead to an avoidance of never understanding why you think and feel this way.
‘An avoidance of situations isn’t sustainable or ideal for those of us who want to experience and enjoy life and not be crippled by the depths of anxiety.’
Tasmina has years of experience helping people work through their anxiety (and y’know, professional qualifications) and of course recognises that truly reflecting on your anxious experiences can be daunting, but encourages anyone with anxiety to do just that.
‘Appreciate your anxiety because it flared up for a reason,’ she says. ‘Sometimes these reasons don’t make sense to you and can get out of hand, but sit with the anxiety in the moment and reflect on what you’re thinking and feeling.
‘This too shall pass. You can also seek professional help – it’s what we’re here for.’
Robyn Henderson found that medication helped to ease her anxiety at first, but like a lot of people, eventually concluded it would be best used as a short-term fix.
‘I was on an SSRI called Citalopram for a few years when I was at my most unwell with GAD,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘The medication completely removed the feeling of anxiety for a good while – which was amazing. However, there were side effects, and long term I didn’t want it to be the solution.
‘Once I stopped taking the meds, I was aware of a responsibility to myself to look after my own mental health. I upped my exercise (now five times a week) and I tried CBT over the phone, which I found worked well, but it requires you to practice the techniques and identify where your unhelpful thinking is coming from. It gave me a good few tools to help rationalise some of my unhelpful thoughts.’
Amelia-Eve Warden, who was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) six years ago, has found a few more natural techniques to help her manage her anxiety over time.
She says: ‘As morbid as it may sound, and as a sufferer, I don’t believe GAD can be cured. Instead you need to figure out how to make anxiety something livable without disrupting your life.
‘My anxiety comes in waves and usually is heightened when things that make me uneasy (known as triggers) are in full swing.
‘I have used medication prescribed by GPs, I have tried meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and many different coping mechanisms to make this disorder something I have control of, not it controlling me.
‘I’ve found CBD oil to be the most productive and useful way to ease my anxiety, particularly in the mornings. I put a few drops under my tongue every day and within 30 minutes my panic is totally eased, and the commute on the London underground doesn’t seem so scary.’
There are many things you can try to help manage your anxiety, and they may well lead to it eventually dissolving out of your life.
In the meantime, however, it’s best to acknowledge that you have it, address how it affects you, and find small but meaningful ways to deal with it. You’re not doomed to struggle with anxiety for the rest of your waking moments, but, equally, there’s no way to prevent yourself from ever feeling rubbish again. That’s why having coping techniques is essential.
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