Anxiety is a condition that engages your entire being.
Add a medical condition on top of that and you may very well have the elements for a perfect storm.
Unsurprisingly, anxiety and invisible medical conditions — chronic fatigue syndrome, food allergies, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, cyclic vomiting syndrome — go hand in hand.
While you can have one without the other, it’s uncommon to have a medical condition without experiencing some form of anxiety. Which means you’re stuck attempting to manage anxiety as well.
Despite it sounding like an impossible feat, take heart in knowing that there are ways you can do it. Here are some.
1. Understand the Role of Anxiety
Essentially, the role of having to manage anxiety is normal. Not only do you have to deal with life’s everyday stress, but you have to deal with a medical condition on top of it.
As mentioned before, many people struggling with an invisible medical condition also face anxiety. Learn to understand how your body expresses and communicates anxiety. This way you can see it when it unfolds and appreciate it’s relationship to your medical condition.
Be kind and gentle to yourself so you can take care of your a condition and ease your anxiety.
2. Take an Active Stance
Nothing is worse than being surprised by something negative. For example, experiencing a rapid heartbeat, racing thoughts, or shallow breathing.
When you have an especially “bad” medical day, it could send you spiraling down. But don’t let it. Be prepared by knowing your medical condition, anticipating it’s behavior and knowing what to do. The same advice is true for anxiety. Know what may unfold even if you’re unsure of what your day may bring.
Rather than sweep it under the rug, acknowledge your anxiety and bring it into the light.
3. Embrace Behavioral Changes
In expecting anxiety, also expect to manage anxiety. Ultimately, doing nothing does little to make anxiety disappear.
So change your behavior.
For some, this might mean to go for a walk each day, journal regularly, or practice yoga a few times a week. Find what works for you and commit to making these changes a permanent part of your routine.
4. Find a Support Group
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. After all, no one is an island.
Find others who face the same struggles as you do. Whether online or in real life, join a group to feel the support of others.
Dedicate yourself to meeting with your group, talking to the members, and sharing your experience. Being open and honest can help you get the most from your support group.
Furthermore, practicing empathy for others has a dynamic way of helping you manage anxiety.
5. Adopt an Accountability Buddy
Along those same lines, find a trusted friend or family member to whom you can be accountable from day to day.
It’s easy to let anxiety creep in slowly, only to overwhelm you. But when you have someone you’re answering to in regards to your feelings and overall health, you tend to be more on top of anxiety.
6. Turn to Medication
Frequently, medication is relied heavily upon. However, it’s not always necessary when you’re able to participate in a therapeutic process.
With that being said, if anxiety prevents you from putting therapeutic practices to work, medication could be a viable solution to temporarily manage anxiety. The most commonly prescribed are anti-anxiety and anti-depressants.
7. Seek Out Professional Help
Outside of your support circle, you may need to find a non-judgmental third party to help you manage your anxiety. A therapist can help you navigate the gauntlet of juggling both a chronic disease and anxiety.
Furthermore, you’ll feel more confident in the hands of someone professionally trained instead of battling this blindly. Remember, it’s important to find someone with whom you sense a connection, feel comfortable, and is (or willing to become) knowledgeable in your medical condition.
Moreover, therapy can help you gain greater control over your medical condition, in addition to your anxiety.
Dealing with a medical condition and trying to manage anxiety at the same time is no small feat. A therapist can help by understanding your unique position and teach you skills that apply specifically to your life.
For a closer look at how Brave Minds can help, visit our anxiety therapy page.