Anxiety can be crippling. It can be constant and last all day, playing in the background or constantly nagging. It can also come up at unexpected times, with great intensity, and keep you from being productive, or even leaving the house. If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, it can significantly affect relationships and the ability to accomplish simple tasks throughout the day. Hanging out with friends and getting through the day at work can seem like impossible tasks. If you struggle with general anxiety or an anxiety disorder, here are a few ways to regain control and cope with your anxiety.
- Accept Your Anxiety –One of the worst ways to deal with anxiety is to try and avoid it. Denying the feeling does not help, it actually exacerbates it. Instead of denying and avoiding, one way to cope with anxiety is to accept it. Anxiety is not a completely unhelpful emotion. It can help us accomplish tasks, meet deadlines, and avoid risky situations. Anxiety also signals that we need help. The next time your anxiety bothers you remember “It is okay to feel this way.”
- Breathe – This is the MOST IMPORTANT tip to deal with anxiety. When you get anxious, your body is in a heightened state of arousal known as fight or flight. When you are in this state, it is difficult to think clearly about what’s going on because the portion of your brain responsible for decision making and planning is partially offline. One way to get that part of your brain back up and running is to BREATHE. Wherever you are take some time to inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds. Do this at least ten times or until you notice your anxiety level become manageable.
- Evaluate – Another way is to evaluate the situation that caused your anxiety to get out of control. Sometimes the amount of anxiety we experience can be out of proportion to the situation that caused it. A lot of the times simply observing what caused your anxiety and seeing if your response is justified can be helpful.
- Find an Outlet – Do you have any planned activities throughout the week that you enjoy? If not, planning ways to relieve stress through doing things that you enjoy can be extremely helpful. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy is like adding money to your mental-health bank. If you have added to your mental-health bank, then you can make a withdrawal when you are going through stressful situations throughout the week.
- Talk About It- You are not alone in feeling anxious. Talking to friends or finding a support group can be incredibly helpful when dealing with anxiety. Knowing that other people experience anxiety and feeling understood is crucial to the healing process.
- Anchor in Truth – If your anxiety tells you lies like “I’m never good enough” “If I don’t do this, then that must mean I’m a failure” or “I’m going crazy” then fight back. One way is to write down truths that oppose the lies anxiety tends to tell you. If you struggle to find positive truths about yourself, then ask people who you know and trust. You can write them down on a note in your phone or keep them on a notecard in your back pocket. Regardless, keep them somewhere close by.
- If Stuck, Find a Professional – Sometimes dealing with anxiety may seem like an impossible task and you can get stuck. Maybe you think that no one will understand or you are embarrassed to share your experience with anxiety. If that is the case, then find a mental health professional in your area. Licensed Counselors are trained to help people fight anxiety and find healing.
Anxiety is not easy to manage, but these tips can help. If it helps, print this blog off and put it on the fridge, in the car, or somewhere at work. Keeping this around might help to create insight as to when your anxiety is starting to surface. The first part to managing your anxiety is to realize when you are being controlled by it.
If you feel like counseling might be the right fit for you, then schedule an appointment. If you have any questions about anxiety, then reach out to a local mental health professional!