Dear Therapist: How do I control my body's physical response to anxiety?

Making sense of the world we inhabit

By Prateeksha Shetty

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Published: Thu 28 Apr 2022, 8:44 PM

My anxiety gets so bad at times that I’m unable to eat food. My hands get cold and nausea takes over. I hate that my anxiety has so much power over me. How do I control my body’s physical response to it? — Arshia M.

Dear Arshia, one of the first steps in decreasing any form of anxiety is identifying the triggers and developing more insight into nature and context of anxiety. Enabling better self-awareness by tracking these episodes would help you feel more in control and less overwhelmed or paralysed. Over time, you need to recognise that it is anxiety as and when it occurs, which means that you need to educate yourself on the signs of anxiety that you suffer from. Apart from nausea and changes in body temperature that you have highlighted here, one can also have palpitations, increased or racing thoughts, giddiness, breathlessness or avoidance. Look for other milder signs of anxiety in varied situations that are not intense but still exist. Your strategies would involve de-escalating episodes of extreme anxiety by learning relaxation strategies to facilitate a general sense of calm in daily life. Your overall recovery largely depends on deeper understanding of what makes you anxious and getting to the root of the problem. Without this in-depth analysis, it is possible that anxiety may recur in different forms from time to time.

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