Coping with Anxiety
Updated: Jun 20, 2019
5 effective strategies to reduce symptoms and feel more in control of your everyday life
What’s the worst part of having anxiety? Worrying about how much you worry. Here’s how to stop.
1. Set a worry time
All too often our ruminations take over and before we know it we've been having a conversation with our inner critic for an hour. Our worries show up unannounced like constant dinging text notifications. But what if we were not to respond right away? Setting a worry time for 15-20 minutes everyday to acknowledge your thoughts and try to problem solve them can limit constant worry throughout the day.
Exercise is a great way to distract yourself from worries and to release feel good chemicals (such as endorphins) that decrease low mood and anxiety. Often when we're anxious we feel physically out of control...our heart rate increase, muscles tense, our face may feel warm, nausea and dizziness may also occur. Increased engagement in exercise fosters a healthy practice of being in control of your body.
3. Breathing Relaxation
Physical symptoms of anxiety may cause irregular breathing, sensations of suffocation, gaging, shallow breathing, often associated with panic attacks. Practicing controlled breathing techniques when calm can increase control over your anxiety and confidence in treating panic attacks.
Ruminations ravage our brains hindering us from seeing clearly through the fog in our minds. Journaling can be a great tool to write your thoughts on paper, acknowledging your feelings are valid. Owning your voice and having a physical space for it to live frees up a tremendous amount of headspace. Reflecting over your thoughts increases insight to problem solve and understanding oneself better. It can also be a safe outlet to literally get your feeling out on paper. Keeping our thoughts and feelings inside can feel safe almost as if they're locked in a vault. However it can also suffocate our headspace, stopping us from living our lives to the fullest due to constantly ruminating over anxiety.
5. Building Cope Ahead Strategies
The therapy skill of "coping ahead" comes from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). The idea is to build a plan for future situations that cause us stress and pain. If you can anticipate a difficult situation, coping ahead can aide you in anticipating how to manage it effectively. This can be particularly helpful in trying to break negative patterns of behavior. By reflecting over past problematic situations and coping ahead, you can rehearse alternative actions in your mind. This is not an easy skill as it requires you to be honest. Like many coping strategies, the more you practice it will get easier for you.