Anxiety-Schmanxiety. Part 3: Tips on managing anxiety
Every day that you struggle with anxiety is a day that you’re managing it: it is simply the act of preventing anxiety from overwhelming you. No matter how difficult how much you struggle with it every day, you are coping with it in small ways.
Yet anxiety can also be managed better. Ideally, you want to make sure that you can live with your anxiety every day, and that it doesn’t hold you back from achieving your goals.
Here are a few anxiety management tips that I have seen to be effective during my practice :
- Breathing is key– As I tell my clients, if you are anxious you are breathing wrong and if you are breathing wrong, you are anxious. Your breathing should make you feel centered and peaceful. Try to achieve that by taking a few deep and slow breaths when you’re anxious.
- Drink a glass of water– Slowly that is. Count the sips and aim for 10-15 sips. This not only calms you down but helps give you time to reassess the situation and think clearly
- Call a friend– Share your anxiety. Anxiety shared is anxiety halved. Talk to your trusted one about the anxiety, ask them to help you calm down. If you can’t find someone to provide this level of support, contact a mental health professional to help you out.
- Visualize– Either close your eyes and bring up a happy memory or a serene picture that soothes you. If this is not possible at the time of anxiety, try to remove yourself from your current physical space and look for a spot of nature, or something that is beautiful. Focus on it for few seconds. Take a walk in a garden, by the fountain, or some place that is soothing. ( for me it’s usually a nice cafe)
- Shift focus: Shifting focus allows you to stop focusing on those thoughts and give yourself a break to simply calm down. Try engaging yourself in a goal oriented activity that would make you feel productive or engage in a hobby.
- Journaling: Writing thoughts down in a journal is actually a powerful coping tool. It benefits anxiety in two ways: First, of course, is that it gives you a chance to simply let out your thoughts. Second, however, is that it also puts your thoughts in a permanent place, and that tells your brain that it doesn’t have to focus on remembering them as much as it did previously.
These are only examples of anxiety management strategies. You may also find your own strategies that work for you. For example, you may find a walk in the park to be therapeutic, or maybe reading happy poetry gives you warmer feelings.
Apart from these, living a healthy lifestyle is also crucial. From sleep to nutrition to hydration and exercise, the healthier your body is the better it works, and the better it works the less you’ll experience anxiety. When you exercise, you not only reduce that extra energy – you also improve hormone balance, release neurotransmitters that improve mood and improve breathing. Exercise is easily one of the most powerful, healthy anxiety management tools available.
Remember, anxiety management is simply about helping your mind learn to cope with it better. If you still feel severe anxiety, contact a mental health professional to help you learn how to manage and reduce anxiety. Remember, you can feel better.