Can I Help Myself?

Yes—you absolutely can help yourself deal with anxiety. Your initial step on the road to recovery is one of education. You want to learn as much as you can about the physiological process of anxiety, what the self-help techniques are, and what anxiety programs are available to you. You can help yourself to stop anxiety to the degree that you are willing and able to follow a healing program. There are many exercises and techniques that will help you recover from anxiety. They include: learning about anxiety, what it is and its physiological processes, diaphragmatic breathing, relaxation and progressive relaxation, desensitization, guided imagery, using yoga and meditation, etc.

With discipline and practice these techniques can stop a good percentage of your anxiety.

Your first stop should be to your family physician for a complete medical examination to determine if the root of your anxiety is caused by a physical disease or another medical condition. If you do not have a medical condition, then your physician may be able to give you information on how to set up a self-help program. Beginning a self-help program as either the only course of your healing program or in conjunction with medication and therapy is a proactive stance on your part and will help you take control of your anxiety instead of letting it control you. Helping yourself to heal will boost your confidence and build positive self-esteem.

Essential

It's advisable to join a support group if you are beginning a self-help regimen. There you can exchange experiences, not feel so isolated, and help one another learn how to cope with stress. One of the most beneficial advantages of a support group is that you know that you're not alone, and there are others who are suffering as you are.

Where to Find Information

You can find out what information is available to you by visiting your local library and asking the reference librarian what books, tapes, and other resources will meet your needs. Your librarian will also help you do a computer search. If you want to purcase the material for your program try and find it at the library first to see if the exercises and techniques are right for you. Or go to your local bookstore and spend time looking in the self-help section. Still not sure what to buy, make a list of the books that interest you and go to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com and read the book reviews to help you with your decision.

The government's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has Web sites devoted to all of the aspects of anxiety and the anxiety disorders, as well as written information that is free of charge. Other Web sites and organizations to check with are the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. To do an online search, enter “anxiety self-help” or other key words into search engines, such as Google.com or Yahoo.com. If you need assistance, ask your reference librarian. Support groups for anxiety are a wonderful resource. It is helpful to hear what steps others have taken to help themselves and what books, tapes, and programs have worked for them. There are many self-help programs to take advantage of either exclusively, or to meld, taking the best from each—as long as your application of the principles and practices continues in a methodical manner. These techniques will also be beneficial if you are taking medication for your symptoms and seeing a mental health clinician.

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