I have always been open with you all about my anxiety problems. I know I am not alone and I don’t want you to feel alone either. It’s not uncommon to feel anxiety from time to time. With more research, it’s been found that anxiety is actually the most common mental health issue in the USA today. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that over 40 million adults in America are affected by anxiety disorder. And that number only counts diagnosed cases. There are likely millions of other adults, teens, and children alike that struggle with anxiety.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can learn to cope with anxiety, whether or not you have a doctoral diagnosis. Some symptoms of anxiety include sweating, an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and feeling lightheaded. I often getting a feeling that I would describe as overwhelmed, like making a decision is very difficult. I will think, and overthink, about every possible outcome.
Read on to discover 10 ways you can cope with anxiety. Keep in mind these are general tips. Seek professional medical help if you are experiencing anxiety on a regular basis.
Deep Breathing Techniques
Feeling like you can’t breathe is a common sign of anxiety. That feeling stresses out our mind and body, causing us to breathe and pant faster, worsening the symptom. Sometimes, it’s enough to just stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and a few deep breaths when you start to feel anxious. I tell myself baby steps. One small thing at a time.
If that doesn’t seem to help, you may want to try an actual breathing technique. Focus on the air and let go of what is causing your anxiety as you do this. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Hold for 4-5 seconds, the exhale slowly through your mouth. After several rounds of this, you should start to feel your anxiety lessening and your heart rate returning to normal.
There are even products that can help you practice your deep breathing. Here is one available on Amazon.
Exercise Every Day
Physical activity can help you kick your anxiety to the curb in a number of ways. For one, it should be fun. This means you have to find an active hobby you actually enjoy. When we are having fun, we are less likely to worry and stress over things that cause us anxiety. This is why I started running. It helps my mental health tremendously.
Choose something you like to do to be active, whether it’s jogging with a friend, swimming, or dancing in your living room at home. Even just a daily walk with an uplifting podcast or feel-good music can work wonders for overall mental health.
Exercise also releases endorphins, which helps us feel happier and less stressed, and being less stressed can help reduce anxiety and its triggers.
Focus On Quality Sleep
You must let your brain recharge long enough each night to handle what the next day throws at you. Coming to battle rested and ready to fight can drastically reduce the effect anxiety and its triggers can have on you. Make sure you are getting quality rest each night. I often have sleeping problems, and I definitely notice the next day my anxiety is a lot worse.
Unplug from your tech devices at least one hour before laying down. The longer you can go without them before bedtime, the better. Get supportive pillows and mattress, and keep the room temperature comfortable.
Use a white noise machine or run the fan if you need a little noise to lull you to sleep. Also practice some positive affirmations for both you and your mindset to keep your brain in a positive place throughout the night and into the next morning.
Journal Your Feelings
Sometimes the best way to handle your anxiety is to get it out of your mind and onto paper. This includes all the thoughts and feelings that are causing you to feel anxious too. Journaling daily can help your brain release some of the worries.
In addition to being a healthy release, journaling daily can also help you find patterns or triggers you may not have previously noticed before. This can help you either avoid triggers that are unnecessary or overwhelming as well as overcoming others that might not be as severe as your mind magnifies them to be.
Not sure where to begin? Journal prompts for mental health are a great starting point!
Identify Your Triggers
Many people feel anxious because their mind or body is triggered by someone or something. It’s always a good time to reevaluate your life, and remove any negative people in it, if you find this happening often. Sometimes figuring out the triggers can be harder than it sounds though. I often try to retrace my mental steps and go back to everything I thought about to try to figure out what triggered my anxiety.
Consider a job change or a new work environment if going there every day has you filled with anxiety. Make sure you are eating healthy and if possible, avoid sugar and caffeine, as they have been known to increase anxiety symptoms. I switched to decaf coffee on a regular basis because I found the caffeine was triggering my anxiety.
Journaling or therapy can help you uncover your triggers so you can learn how to best deal with them. Once you know why you have anxiety, overcoming it becomes easier.
Learn To Relax
I know this is easier said than done. It’s hard to get rid of anxiety when you are constantly going, going, going. In fact, distracting yourself can make you even more anxious. Working 8+ hours per day and saying “yes” to obligations that don’t really spark joy, in addition to a partner, kids, and a life at home can really run you ragged. You need to make sure you are taking some time for yourself and relaxing at least a few minutes every day. On the commute from work, listen to some light jazz or a fun audiobook, something that puts your mind at ease. Learn to say “no” to anything that doesn’t make you happy or isn’t essential to your life. Prioritize yourself and your feelings, you’re the most important person in your life! Remember that.
Here is a book that may help you learn to help relax and mediate. Is is also available on audiobook, which is perfect to listen to in the car.
Spark Joy Into Your Day
Being happier tends to make it harder for anxiety to set up shop in your mind. This won’t be an overnight process, but you can make a conscious effort to be happier little by little. These improvements will likely cause the anxiety to lessen overtime.
You may find happiness in calling family and friends more often. Take up a new hobby you’ve been wanting to try. Being outdoors always helps elevate my mood. Watch a silly TV show or movie that makes you laugh and forget the day’s troubles for a couple hours. Curl up with a book that brings you joy. Your happiness is up to your definition, be sure you are living a life that you enjoy.
Practice Self Care Regularly
It’s easy to forget that your body and mental health need to be taken care of just as much as your home, family, car, and job do. Self care gives you the time your mind needs to relax and wind down, especially during stressful times. I think moms especially have a hard time with this because we tend to put our family’s needs before our own.
Having lunch with a friend, taking a bubble bath, getting lost in a good book, or enjoying coffee on the porch every morning are just a few ways that you can take care of yourself and, in turn, reduce your anxiety.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
If your anxiety has you cancelling dinner dates or declining invites to parties, now is the time to take a stand. Spending quality time with those we love is great for the soul and helps to remove those anxious feelings from our minds. Time with friends and family can make you feel like you have a good support system for those times when your anxiety is very bad. This doesn’t mean having a big family reunion, this can even be something small like dinner with your best friend. During the pandemic mental health in many people have declined because of the lack of contact with friends and family.
You won’t feel so alone when you are anxious, and more like you can reach out to someone for help. If you’re too anxious to go out with people, you may need new people or different activities in your life!
It’s common for all of us to experience anxiety at one time or another. If it’s something that happens more often than not for you, the first step is accepting that, and the next is mending that issue. The trick is to learn how to identify the triggers and how to cope with those anxious feelings when they arise. What is your best method for coping with anxiety?
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