If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety in any capacity, then you know how difficult this condition can be to cope with. Anxiety is an unfortunately common experience for many people, and it has the power to affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life. From social withdrawal, to lack of appetite, and a decrease in general affect, its impact is widespread.
Some people may suffer from situational anxiety whereas others might suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This condition affects a person’s daily life and is characterized by persistent worry about miscellaneous things. In many cases, it can feel completely random. The good news is that there are strategies that can help you cope with anxiety and feel more in control of your emotions and experiences. In this blog, we’ll explore 10 strategies that actually work and can help give you your power back.
1. Identify Your Triggers
The first step in coping with anxiety is to identify your triggers. What situations, people, or events tend to make you feel anxious? Once you know exactly what triggers your anxiety, you can work to manage those triggers.
For example, if you know that public speaking makes you anxious, you could practice your presentation ahead of time and take deep breaths to calm your nerves. Or, if social situations are a trigger, you can try to limit your exposure to large groups of people and focus on spending time with close friends or family members. If this feels impossible to do on your own, seeking the help of a mental health professional is an excellent way to uncover your personal triggers. Therapists and counselors are experienced in identifying the root cause of many mental health conditions, including anxiety.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique that involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Practicing mindfulness can help you feel more grounded and centered, which can reduce feelings of anxiety.
To practice mindfulness, find a quiet place to sit and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can also try other mindfulness techniques, such as body scans or guided meditations. In the beginning, this practice can be difficult and does require patience and consistency. Attending yoga classes or searching for guided meditations on YouTube is a great place to start.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is one of the most successful ways to reduce anxiety because it releases endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Regular exercise can also help you sleep better and reduce muscle tension, which can be helpful if you tend to carry stress in your body.
Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle. It could be anything from running or biking to yoga or dance classes. Whatever it is, be sure to engage in it regularly. An hour of exercise per day has been shown to drastically decrease stress and anxiety, and when done routinely, can improve a person’s quality of life. In addition to this, studies have shown that high-intensity exercise is even more beneficial for anxiety than low intensity. Some high-intensity exercises to try out are cycling, running, kickboxing, or any other activity that gets your heart rate up significantly.
4. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is one of the most underutilized yet essential parts of coping with anxiety. When you’re anxious, it can be easy to let this fall to the wayside. Make sure you’re taking care of your basic needs, such as eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated. If we are not adequately taking care of our bodies, our mind is likely to suffer as well. Take time to do things that you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or spending time with people you love.
5. Limit Your Exposure to News and Social Media
The 24-hour news cycle and a constant stream of social media updates can be overwhelming and can spark feelings of anxiety in most people. If you find that news and social media are a serious trigger for you, try limiting your exposure or eliminating it altogether. You could try setting specific times of day to check your phone or turn off notifications altogether.
6. Use Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization, are known for their ability to reduce feelings of anxiety. The goal of these techniques is to help you feel more relaxed and calmer in the moment. When you find yourself feeling panic, engage in one of these techniques to distract the mind and body.
In order to practice deep breathing, you’ll need to take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this cycle several times until you feel more relaxed.
7. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can help shift your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings, which can be helpful in reducing anxiety. Many studies have shown that gratitude has the power to reduce the severity of anxiety and depression in people of all ages. This is helpful because it forces the brain to switch from a lens of worry and fear to one of thankfulness and positivity. When done regularly, this practice can become more automated and less difficult.
To practice gratitude, try writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. They could be as simple as having a roof over your head or having a supportive friend. Starting your day with this practice helps to put your mind in a positive state and can allow you to start your morning off strong.
8. Seek Professional Help
Although this can be difficult, if you find that your anxiety is interfering with your daily life or you’re having trouble coping, it’s time to seek out help. A mental health professional will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs and can restore a sense of peace in your life.
There are quite a few types of therapy that are helpful in treating anxiety, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, EMDR, or exposure therapy. Medication might also be an effective treatment worth exploring, depending on the severity of the anxiety.
9. Connect with Others
Talking to a friend or family member about your feelings can help you feel less alone and more supported as you attempt to deal with your anxiety. Joining a support group or online community is a helpful way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Sharing your personal testimony is therapeutic in many cases and hearing the testimonies of others can remind you that you are not alone in your struggles.
10. Practice Acceptance
Lastly, it’s especially important to practice acceptance when coping with anxiety. Acceptance, in this sense, means acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts, even when they’re uncomfortable to deal with.
Rather than trying to push away or ignore your anxiety, try to simply accept it for what it is. Recognize that it’s a normal part of the human experience and that it’s okay to feel anxious at times.
Coping with anxiety in any capacity is challenging, but there are many strategies that can help. With the proper steps in place, you can learn to manage your anxiety and feel more in control of your emotions. Each person’s journey with mental health struggles is unique, and it’s vital to find the strategies that work best for you.
We Can Help!
MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home. If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.