We all experience anxiety from time to time. However, if you feel anxious all the time or you experience physical symptoms like breathlessness or nausea, you might be suffering from an anxiety disorder. In today’s article, we’ll be discussing anxiety in detail. We’ll explore how anxiety can play tricks on us, and how to take control over anxious thoughts and feelings.
Anxiety in Older People
Despite what many people believe, it is possible to combat anxiety and live a full life. Unfortunately, many older people who experience anxiety don’t seek help or treatment. This might be due to a belief that they should ‘just get on with it’. However, mental health is just as important as physical health. After all, if you broke your leg, you wouldn’t just keep a stiff upper lip and wait for it to get better!
If your anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life, you should get in touch with your GP. They will want to hear about your symptoms and help you as best they can. In the meantime, follow the tips below to reduce feelings of worry and anxiety.
How to Reduce Anxiety
- Recognise what is happening. When you are feeling anxious, your brain can make you feel as though you are in danger. Your heart rate might increase, you may feel out of breath – this is the body’s fight or flight response. Try to acknowledge what’s really happening. Observe your surroundings. Tell yourself what’s happening: you are feeling anxious; this is harmless and temporary. You are safe.
- Focus on the present. Anxious feelings often come from worrying about what might happen in the future or what has happened in the past. Remind yourself that you cannot control anything except the present moment. Accept that you feel anxious right now. Trying to fight your anxious feelings in the moment can often make things worse.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. Your breathing might get faster when you feel anxious. Try to take slow, deep, even breaths to keep yourself calm.
Why Anxiety Plays Games with Your Mind
Anxiety is a trick of the brain. It makes us think that we are truly in danger when we are not. To outsmart anxiety, it is important to stop resisting it. When we are in the throes of a panic attack for instance, we should ‘float’ with our anxiety. This means recognising the symptoms such as a rapid heart rate and quick, shallow breathing. Gently transition to slow, even breaths.
When we try to fight against anxiety, we only increase the physiological processes that lead us into panic. In other words, when we continue to breathe in quickly and overload our systems with oxygen, our muscles continue tensing up and contracting, and our heart rate continues to rise.
By breathing calmly and acknowledging that the brain is playing a trick (trying to convince us we are in real danger), we can calm ourselves down and regain control.
Anti-Anxiety Aids at Home and Away
Dealing with anxiety also involves recognising the early signs of symptoms such as panic attacks. Once you know what you’re up against, you can take the right kind of action. Lots of people use anti-anxiety aids like the following:
- Weighted blankets. These comfy sleeping aids, which weigh more than a standard blanket, give us a sense of calm and increase serotonin in the body, thus balancing our mood. They have also been shown to improve sleep, which can in turn help to reduce anxiety.
- Gentle exercise. Going for a walk can offer a helpful change of scenery and good old-fashioned fresh air. Lots of people also recommend yoga and meditation, which have been proven to lower stress hormone levels.
- Furry friends. Spending time with a pet can work wonders. In fact, owning a pet is linked to better overall physical and mental health.
- Hobbies. Whether you like exercise, arts and crafts, cooking, or gardening, spending time on your favourite activities can be very calming. For hobby ideas, see our handy guide to hobbies for older people.
Find out more about the Personal Alarm
A personal alarm can a great comfort for people living with anxiety, especially for those who live alone. Knowing that you can always call for help in an emergency is incredibly reassuring, for you and your loved ones alike.
Our Response Team are on hand 24-hours a day, 365 days a year to ensure that our alarm users receive the highest quality of service.
For more information about the Lifeline Personal Alarm service, please contact our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
You can order your new Lifeline alarm today and receive free next-day delivery.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 12th July 2021 to reflect current information.