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Reducing Anxiety with Treatment, Tools, and Awareness

Posted on Tuesday, November 14th at 8:17 pm

Over the next several months Dragonfly Transitions will host several screenings of the documentary ANGST in Ashland and Klamath Falls, Oregon. This is a film that was created by parents and educators that have personal experience with anxiety. The filmmakers believe that through watching the documentary as a community, awareness can be raised and a conversation started about anxiety.

An overwhelming number of young adults experience anxiety and depression. If left untreated they are at increased risk for loneliness, academic struggles, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and other mental health or developmental challenges (Pottick, et al., 2008).

Many of us experience some level of anxiety on a daily basis. Anxiety becomes problematic when it begins to interfere with everyday life. Prior to treatment it is not uncommon for a Dragonfly student to have become avoidant of many day-to-day obligations, such as school or work, due to paralyzing anxiety.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders:

  1. Panic Disorder: involves symptoms of anxiety as well as the fear of having a panic attack.
  2. Social Anxiety: where people avoid social situation (i.e., public speaking or large crowds).
  3. Specific Phobias: intense fear of a specific object (i.e., snakes).
  4. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: involves thoughts or obsessions that tend to be unwanted and intrusive (i.e., there are germs on my hands). These thoughts create anxiety, after which the individual may engage in compulsions, or actions designed to reduce the anxiety (i.e., hand washing).
  5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): involves exposure to an extremely traumatic event followed by a re-experiencing of the invent, increased arousal, and avoidance of things that remind the person of the event.

There are three parts to anxiety that are important for an individual to understand:

  1. What I think (Cognitions);
  2. What I feel (Physical Sensations);
  3. What I do (Behaviors).

There is hope and there are a variety of evidenced based treatments that are proven to reduce anxiety such as: CBT, Brain Spotting, Somatic Experiencing, Exposure Therapy, medications, Mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Through the process of facing fears, the unknown and experiencing new things, an individual can learn that they are stronger and more resilient than they believe. Through living in a supportive community, such as Dragonfly Transitions, it’s helpful to know that one is not alone in being impacted by anxiety.

Tool:

Here’s one tool that can be used anywhere and at any time in order to center, calm and reduce anxiety.

  1. Get comfortable in a chair or seated position.
  2. Uncross your legs and place your feet on the ground.
  3. Place your hands in your lap and allow your eyes to close.
  4. Now, take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly release it through your nose.
  5. What do you notice?
  6. What do you feel in your body? Maybe it’s your feet on the ground or the weight of your body in your seat. Perhaps it’s a knot in your shoulder. Just notice and continue to breathe.
  7. Slowly open your eyes and take one more deep inhale and then exhale. (3-5 seconds).
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