Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns in the U.S. Tabitha Wilson from Hope Counseling Centers joins us to discuss what anxiety may look like for some seniors, and shares natural ways to combat the feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, and overall stress.

Video Transcript

- Hello everybody and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us. Our discussion today is anxiety, how to spot it and steps that we can take to ease those symptoms. Tabitha Wilson is with me and we're gonna talk about this topic today and I think we can all learn a little something about anxiety, how it affects all of us in some shape or form, and really take something away that we can start incorporating into our lives today to ease anxiety out of our lives. Tabitha, before we take a deep dive into all of this, good morning, how are you? And tell us a little bit about yourself.

- Good morning. Thank you for having me. I am doing well. It's such a pleasure to be here with you all. So a little bit about me. I am native born in Massachusetts, right. But I've been here in the Atlanta area for the last 20 years. So I am home. I am currently in my clinical rotation my last clinical rotation at Richmont Graduate University which means that I do individual and group therapy every day. And I'm also a mommy of a adorable six-year-old who has me on my toes all the time, so.

- We love that. Yes, it keeps us active, our minds, our bodies for sure. It's wonderful. So we talk about anxiety, right? And I think it might be good to kick off the conversation by describing what anxiety really is what it looks like in terms of symptoms. What should people look for Tabitha?

- Yeah, so number one experiencing anxiety occasionally is just a fact of life that happens for everybody. And of course being in today's society and world, you know there are a lot of things that can kind of ramp that up. But anxiety itself is a condition that's caused by extreme feelings of extreme nervousness, extreme worry. It's usually future oriented to worry about what's going to happen in the future. Not being able to really kind of get a grasp of those thoughts. And some of those symptoms could look like jitteryness, like I just don't know what to do with myself. I feel like I am activated all the time. It could be that, again, that excessive worry, right? Which, which will impede on your sleep time because you won't be able to really shut down and shut those thoughts down. It could be lack of concentration because your thoughts are so overwhelming and they're always going. So anything that is impeding on your mental health that has you nervous and anxious all the time is what anxiety really looks like. And it varies from person to person, right? Everybody's not going to feel the same thing all the time but those are some of the symptoms to look out for. And another thing to look out for or you have to do is really be in tune and pay attention to your body because your body's gonna tell you the story. It's going to give you the symptoms, it's going to give you the signs that this is happening but you have to sit down and be still enough to really see how anxiety shows up for you because it could be a number of those or it could be one of those symptoms.

- Yeah, and we've all experienced those, at least one or many of those symptoms, all of us at some point in our lives. So how can seniors and their family members manage some of those symptoms before they actually turn into anxiety?

- Yeah, so regular exercise, getting out, walking because that reduces stress and stress is a contributing factor to anxiety. So getting out and getting active, eating at regular time so that your blood pressure is regulated. Because sometimes if that spike is low then there's the depression and sometimes anxiety can ramp up and panic attacks can happen. There are different foods that you can eat to help with anxiety, such as like salmon and dark chocolate and yogurt and things of that nature that help kind of even out and give that calming effect that's in the food. Getting some great sleep. Eight hours is recommended. Seven if you can't get the eight. But just getting a really good full night's sleep can help with anxiety, limiting caffeine. And I'm a coffee drinker so I know that might be hard for some people but that could ramp up some anxiety as well. And maybe some like herbal teas or something like that can also help.

- Yeah, many of those have certainly have calming effects. Simple things that anybody can do starting right now.

- Yeah, today.

- Now if someone finds that they're experiencing a stressful situation and they're going through a tough time in life you just mentioned some of the coping strategies, what are some others that you suggest?

- Yeah, so one that is super great that will help calm your nervous system is deep breathing and it's four seconds, filling up your belly holding onto your abdomen, making sure that it's very full and then very slowly, six breaths out. And that for three to five minutes can help calm your nervous system and bring you back to homeostasis which is that really calming effect that you want in your life. Identifying what the triggers are, what are those stressors? So I know journaling can help, right? Journaling your day to look back and say, oh those are the things that I've stressed about today. Or those were some of the stressors that were in my life. I know what that it looks like. So now I know how I can take care of it by identifying that that's what it is. So those are a couple of coping strategies that you can enact today to help with any type of anxiety or even before it gets to a point.

- Yeah, perfect, and if someone is experiencing severe anxiety, right? So we talking, talking about different levels of anxiety maybe they've lost a loved one or they moved into a new place for the first time in decades what is the first step you recommend for somebody who was dealing with that?

- Yeah, what a great question. So the thing with that is being able to have someone that you can connect to. So important. That friend, that family member that's gonna be that calming agent for you. And the reason why I say that is because sometimes when we're activated and anxiety is happening for us, somebody else on the other line, or maybe that's in front of us can lend their nervous system to us by being a calm presence. And being able to talk it out, talk about your feelings, talk about what you're experiencing can really be such a great help in a time of crisis.

- Perfect, so this has been a great discussion. You know, just really scratching the surface about anxiety. You had another video for us talking about mental health. These are all things that we can certainly be better at in the new year and really every year, right? I think that's something that we don't, you know not enough self-care. And so you know this is why we have these videos to sort of help remind us that these are the things that we need to do to have a healthy mind, body, and soul. So Tabitha, thank you so much for being with us here today to help.

- Thank you.

- Thank you. And for all of our viewers if you enjoyed this video with Tabitha, please head on over to our website, We've got a vault full of videos all about senior living and the best part is they are all free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thank you so much for being a part of Senior Living Live. Have a great day, everybody.

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