Trait Anxiety

Trait Anxiety

Everyone occasionally suffers from anxiety. When there are real and reasonable reasons to feel worried and anxious it is called state anxiety. In these situations, the anxiety may last a few minutes, hours, or even longer periods when the cause is an illness or the absence of a loved one. Some of us, however, have trait anxiety. Unlike state anxiety, trait anxiety is a part of our overall personality and it is something that you can live with, cope with, and even control, but you cannot eliminate it completely.

People with trait anxiety are more likely to have anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Unlike some conditions, trait anxiety doesn’t have specific triggers. Everything, from going to the grocery store to buying new shoes, causes uncalled for levels of anxiety and stress.

While other anxiety disorders can be treated fairly easily, trait anxiety is more complicated. There is no single trigger to focus on during psychotherapy. You can’t avoid the cause, because as soon as one thing stops causing a problem another one starts.

Trait anxiety can be hard to diagnose and it is often ignored or belittled. People say you take things too seriously, you never relax, you’re a “worrier.” The anxiety is a part of your personality. While it helps to know why you’re anxious, knowing that you have trait anxiety doesn’t make it easier to live with. Just because your anxiety has a name doesn’t change things.

Fortunately, there are ways to help keep your trait anxiety under control. While nothing can make it go away, as it’s a part of who you are, you can learn how to keep it from taking over. Everyone experiences anxiety in a unique way, so not everything suggested will work for you. Keep trying new things until you find the ones that help.

Frequent and regular exercise can help you to control trait anxiety. Being active keeps your mind and body healthy, making it easier to deal with problems. When you worry, stress hormones build up in your body. Exercise releases these, keeping them from building up to the point that they may trigger an anxiety attack. Physical activity can also be a distraction from your worries or a way to meet new people and have fun.

Meditation or prayer is helpful to many. Whatever your religious beliefs, taking a quiet time each day helps to relieve anxiety. You might choose to meditate, pray, focus on soothing music or images, or relax each part of your body in turn. However you choose to do it, this quiet time can help center your mind and lower stress hormones.

Anti-anxiety medications can help in the control of trait anxiety. There are many prescriptions medicines that you can take. Herbal supplements, scented oils, and teas with ingredients such as lemon extract can help as well. Make sure that your doctor and pharmacist know what supplements and medicines you use. Some can interact with each other, making them ineffective or even causing dangerous reactions.

Many people find that keeping a diary or journal helps with trait anxiety. Getting your thoughts out on paper can relieve some of the worry. Confiding in a friend or loved one can have the same effect. A psychologist or therapist can help. They may be able to pinpoint triggers that make the trait anxiety worse, suggest methods of controlling and coping with the trait anxiety, or simply provide an outlet for you to vent your fears and frustrations.

Trait anxiety isn’t easy. It can make every day things harder, like starting a new job, moving, or even going to the store. While you can’t eliminate trait anxiety, you can find ways to keep it from interfering with your enjoyment of life. Don’t give up, and keep trying new ways to relieve the anxiety. When the anxiety spills over, don’t get mad at yourself. Consider it a learning experience and start again.