According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental illness Americans suffer from, and this particular group of mental disorders is more frequently diagnosed among the elderly. Anxiety disorders can be difficult to recognize because it is somewhat normal to be worried, nervous, or uneasy over the uncertainties of life. Although anxiety — whether a disorder or discomfort — can be debilitating, learning to cope with it can have a positive effect on a person’s overall mental health.

Sharpen positive thinking skills

Coping with anxiety can help a person to learn to think positively. For example, Mark cannot seem to get rid of his anxious feelings about a date he will soon go on. He can cope with his anxiety by identifying its sources and coming up with facts or phrases that dispel each one of his worries. What are the specific elements of the date that are making him nervous? To effectively address his anxiety, Mark must really give serious thought to the issue. Once he has identified the root causes of his anxiety, he can fight against them. Suppose, Mark realizes that he is anxious because he does not think his date will like him and because he does not think that he looks good enough for a first date.

Mark can think and act to fight both the causes of his anxiety. He can remind himself that his date agreed to go out with him. That implies that the date likes something about him. Mark can also remind himself of his positive qualities. Specificity is more effective. Rather than simply thinking that he is a kind person, Mark can remind himself of times that he has been kind. Positive thinking can often be assisted by practical thinking. If Mark does not think he looks good enough, he can change into an outfit that he thinks is more appropriate. When possible, doing something that will make a person feel more comfortable is a great way to get rid of anxiety. These actions teach a person to be aware of their own emotions. It helps the person learn to practice self-care and to be cognizant of his or her mental health.

Imagine the best

Anxiety often leads people to imagine the worst case situation, but this nervous energy can be harnessed into something mentally upbuilding when a person does just the opposite. Imagine the best case situation instead. In Mark’s case, he can mentally rehearse his idea of a perfect date. He can imagine all of the things he fears will go wrong going right. This is not merely wishful thinking. Positive thinking has been proven to be mentally and physically healthy. Although the future cannot be controlled by means of positive thinking, those who think positively about themselves are more likely to put their best foot forward than those who have convinced themselves of failure.

When to see a doctor

Turning anxiety into something positive is a great idea, but trying to do so can be nearly impossible and certainly unhealthy for people who have an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder needs to be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Disorders are legitimate medical issues that require treatment. While self-help can be beneficial for people with anxiety disorders, treatment methods and techniques should be discussed with a mental health professional.

When anxiety is intense, frequent, happens for no apparent reason, or impacts the quality of life, seek the advice of a mental health professional. These symptoms are distinguishing factors between normal anxiety and mental health disorders. Whether anxiety is caused by a disorder or the distresses of life, there are sound methods for coping with this extremely common problem.