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Effective Steps for Managing Anxiety

Have you ever been in a situation that brought on sweats, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath? You probably weren’t having a heart attack but an anxiety attack. If you suffer from anxiety disorders, learning to manage it is the first step to overcoming it.

Anxiety is characterized by extreme reactions to fearful situations. When someone follows you into a dark alley, those anxious feelings of a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms gives way to heightened senses and a rush of adrenalin that can save your life. This is the fight or flight syndrome.

In the case of frequent anxiety, the fearful feelings are dread of a particular situation and not the situation itself. Getting caught in traffic can cause an anxiety attack over what might happen when you get to work late. Starting a new job can bring on anxiety attacks. You don’t know anyone and fear of that unknown can send you into a panic.

Everyone experiences panic or anxiety in small ways. Like the fight or flight example, it can save your life. In new situations, we get panicky but when the outcome we fear fails to materialize, the anxiety stops. For someone with chronic anxiety, this is not the case.

Every situation that brings anxiety is not life-threatening. More than likely it is an extremely stressful situation that has brought on the anxiety as a way of dealing with it. The unchecked anxiety of this type can lead to depression.

If you suffer from anxiety attacks on occasion or a more frequent anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to keep your anxiety under control.

1. See a professional. This is always a good first step. Self-diagnosis of any type of physical or mental condition is unwise and can be dangerous. A professional psychologist can help you understand your anxiety and prescribe medication or other effective techniques.

2. Get a good night’s sleep. During the sleep cycle, your body repairs itself. You feel more rested after several hours of restorative sleep, reaching the REM stage. Most people need eight hours a night which varies within an hour or two each way.

3. Exercise on a consistent basis. Exercise helps you to use oxygen more efficiently. It helps to get more oxygen to the brain. It also increases focus which may help you see solutions to problems rather than simply worrying about them.

4. Meditate. Meditation is more than chanting mantras. Yoga is an exercise that involves quieting the mind and controlling your breathing. Simple mediation such as taking 5 minutes to clear your mind every day can work wonders in the fight against anxiety.

5. Manage the worry. When you feel your pulse start to quicken, count backward from ten. As you count, focus on the situation. What has actually happened? Resist the urge to read anything more into the situation.

6. Don’t use alcohol. You might think that the glass of wine is relaxing your tension but alcohol is a depressant. In anxious situations, you could rely too heavily on it and gain another problem in the process.

7. Find some relaxing activities. Stress can rob you of your energy. On a regular basis, do something you like such as gardening, painting, reading or listening to music.

Anxiety can come into your life at any time. It’s normal. When the anxiety becomes frequent you could be at risk for more serious conditions. If you feel your anxiety is starting to take over your life or increasingly causing you problems, seek professional help immediately. There is no need to suffer this terrible condition in silence.

Love songs are everywhere. But does anyone have a definition of love, which — people claim — makes the world go around? Sure, it’s easy to tell when you’re in love with someone. [The heart pounds and you act like an idiot.] But it’s much harder to say if you actually love someone.

Enter the mind of Harry Jenkins, as he is about to make love to Natasha,

And then he laughed at himself as he sank beneath the covers. No sane man would question such free and voluptuous pleasure, as if it could only be valued through thought. Only an idiot or a fool would try to analyze love and passion

Nonetheless, like the fool, I seek a definition. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me. On the subject of love, Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, is a sobering read. All of us, supposedly, carry within us, an animus [if you’re female] and an anima [if you’re male], which is the idealized image of the person you love. And so, when you are in love you are projecting this idealized image on a real, live person who might be naturally quite entitled to be different.

After the honeymoon, those annoying little cracks in the image appear, which could certainly explain the high divorce rate. When you find the real person doesn’t exactly match your superimposed ideal, what do you do?

All of these thoughts led me to explore people’s ideas of all kinds of love, not just the romantic variety, in Final Paradox, the second in The Osgoode Trilogy.

Harry Jenkins is the lawyer protagonist throughout the trilogy, which contain storylines of murder and fraud. He is in the thrall of the beautiful Natasha. His aging father, who abandoned him as a child, has just asked his forgiveness. Harry can’t seem to find that in his heart. Natasha asks him—

What do you think love is?
He shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s about wanting someone as part of your life. Wanting them always with you.” He looked into her eyes. “Why? What do you think?”

“I think it’s about getting outside yourself and seeing another person’s life from their point of view. At least that’s a start,” Natasha replied.

Harry heard his father’s words. It’s all about you, is it? Would he always be the kid, he wondered?

Another character musing about love is Norma Dinnick — an elderly client of Harry’s who trips back and forth between lucidity and madness. She recollects her stew of feelings for various men.

Going back to her hotel, Norma tried to understand. She knew about affection and caring for Arthur, her husband, who kept her safe from the emptiness. But she did not understand this business of love, which David talked about. She did know that such emotions gave her a sense of power. The sheer lust she experienced in the presence of George made her feel weak and vulnerable.

Norma simply doesn’t understand about love and neither does Bronwyn — another character. An embittered soul, she has married a gay man and on her honeymoon – She wandered the narrow beach of sand and stone where the boats ferried back and forth to the grottos. No Peter. But then she saw him at a distance on the beach walking slowly with a younger man she did not know. Where had they come from? Right from the start, she had known. Of course, the bargain was unspoken but well understood. For money and security, Bronwyn had sacrificed any chance for love.

But in the end, Harry does begin to get it. In bed with the lovely Natasha, he was

…transported outside his own body, he was overcome with the desire to know the dreams, fantasies, and mysteries she held within. He would enter her world with love and understanding and never leave. The awe he felt in her closeness made his breathing slow and deepen in rhythm with hers. He watched his hand reach out of the shadows to smooth the sheet. She was at last in his bed and, fearing a mirage, he dared not wake her. In the past two weeks, his world had been shaken. His mind had become a jumble of colliding, conflicting events and consequences. Now he felt her power to draw his life together. A still peace gently settled over him like a silken web of meaning.

Tennis requires cat-like reflexes with short bursts of strength. These short movements do not allow the muscles to extend their full length. When muscles are strenuously worked they become tight and can lose their elasticity unless properly stretched. Yoga exercises can increase the body’s range of motion. The lack of movement because of inflexibility binds the joints. Without the elasticity of the muscles, I think an athlete can be a prisoner of his own body.

Using yoga techniques makes it possible to retrain the muscles. Most tennis athletes play in a constant state of muscle tension. Yoga trains the body to relax muscle tension. Learning to begin your game in a relaxed state could mean gaining an extra step on the ball.

When in ready position muscles are contracted and ready for action. To move, muscles must be relaxed and then contracted again to spring in any direction. By retraining the muscles you begin from a relaxed position, giving a quickened reaction time.

Yoga breathing exercises can help improve endurance and stamina. When exerting in sports or exercise we often hold the breath as a way to create strength. Yoga trains the body to create strength through breathing control. Holding the breath at points of exertion takes a great deal of energy that could be used during long sets or matches.

Learning the correct way while doing a yoga pose is simple. Exhale during the execution of a pose until you feel the muscles’ full length of the stretch (maximum resistance). Never hold your breath. Breathe normally and listen to the body. Hold for 30 seconds, then release the pose slowly. By constant practice of yoga poses you’ll soon apply breathing techniques in everyday routines.

A simple spine twist is excellent for rotational sports. It can help increase the needed flexibility of the shoulders and back and hips. Remember to apply the breathing technique to this pose.

Begin the spine twist by sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Keeping the spine straight, bend the left leg placing the left foot on the outside of the right knee. Now, place the left hand on the floor behind you with your arm straight and the right elbow bent. Positioned on the outside of the left thigh place the right hand on the left hip.

Slowly exhale while turning the head and upper body to the left, looking over the left shoulder. Pressure from the right arm should keep the left leg stationary while pressure from the left arm and torso gives you the twist. Stronger use of both arms increases the twist. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat twist on the opposite side.