In today’s fast-paced, high-pressure society – particularly in the workplace – it’s no wonder that over 40 million Americans 18 or older deal with anxiety. That comes out to be about 18% of the US population.
Anxiety can feel overwhelming and unpredictable. This is especially true if you aren’t sure what situations bring you to that anxious feeling. When you don’t know when or where anxiety is going to take you over, it impacts the way you function.
However, if you’re willing to put in time, energy, and effort, there is hope. If you’re able to talk to a therapist, practice mindfulness, or maybe even start a self-care routine, you will be able to work through anxiety when it comes knocking on your door.
No matter what avenue you choose to reach wellness, there are a few tips for anxiety relief to take with you on the way.
1. It’s Okay to Feel It
Think about the last time that anxious feeling started. What was your first instinct? It’s very likely that you attempted to tamp it down and extinguish it. However, therapists say that doing that can make anxiety much worse.
In fact, it tends to increase your anxiety instead of making it go away. When you try to force yourself to feel a certain way in a situation where you just can’t, it’s like you’re pouring gas on a fire. Because maybe when it started, you were anxious about leaving the house, but when you attempt to stop yourself from feeling it, now you’re also anxious because you cant force yourself to stop being anxious.
So feel your feelings, acknowledge the intrusive thoughts, and let them pass.
2. Name That Feeling
Another way to cope with your anxiety is to call it out and give it a name. When you address a feeling by its name, you increase your understanding and acceptance of that feeling. This brings you to be able to calm it down.
The next time you feel like you’re going to dive head-first into anxiety, take a second and think about what the feeling actually feels like. Is it stress? Pressure? Anger? Sadness? Loneliness? Are you overwhelmed? If you can just call out the emotion for what it is, you can start to work your way through it.
It’s also worth it to write it down if you can. The act of writing about your feelings can be very calming.
3. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing works to relieve stress and anxiety because it has a physiological effect on the nervous system. When you breathe slowly and mindfully, it activates your hypothalamus and sends out neurohormones. These neurohormones inhibit the stress-producing hormones and start a relaxation response in your body.
But it takes a fair amount of practice to be able to breathe mindfully. When you’re under stress, you tend to breathe in a shallow way instead of using the full capacity of your lungs.
In order to breathe more fully, sit up straight and place your hands on your belly, right above your belly button. Let your fingertips on both hands touch lightly. Then, exhale fully through your mouth and breathe in deep through your nose. Breath in so deep that your fingertips spread an inch apart as your belly fills with air.
Hold your breath for a two- or five-count, then exhale slowly through your nose.
Try to match the length of the inhale to the length of the exhale, and do this for five or ten minutes.
This will trigger your relaxation response and send you on your way to feeling better soon.
4. Use Grounding Techniques and Practice Mindfulness
Grounding techniques are basically ways to bring your anxious brain back to earth. You can do this by noticing your surroundings or paying attention to tactile sensations.
Some therapists recommend that their clients touch something furry or rough. Even the carpet will work.
This technique will switch your brain’s focus enough for you to work on the core source of anxiety.
Similarly, it’s important to acknowledge your thoughts. Give a name to them and call them what they are. However, it’s just as important to let them pass by.
Think of your thoughts as trains. Don’t get on any that are going to take you to a bad place. Don’t attach to thoughts that will take you down the road to anxiety.
Anxious thoughts are going to happen. Try to let them pass by.
5. Worry is Limited
The feeling of worry is constructive, to a point. If we didn’t experience at least a little anxiety about things, we would likely stop functioning properly. Worry is what gets our projects completed by their deadline, what gets us to class on time, and what makes us go to the doctor in an emergency.
We worry to make sure things turn out right in the future. We want a pleasant vacation, marriage, job interview, and a number of other things.
However, fretting over the future just causes needless stress. That’s why it’s so important to remember that worrying can only help so much. It has its limits, and at a certain point, it becomes debilitating.
6. Understand Your Triggers
If you know what causes your anxiety, you can avoid it better. Some people can experience phobias or social anxiety. Others can feel generalized anxiety, which means that their baseline stress level is high.
When you know what your anxiety is triggered by, even just a little, you are better equipped to deal with it. If you can take steps throughout your day to avoid the things that cause you the kind of anxiety that you cant talk yourself down from, it can make your day smoother.
7. Perspective Matters
When you deal with anxiety, you start to think and feel in absolutes. You feel as though the sensation you’re experiencing at that moment won’t ever go away or get better.
But this way of thinking is catastrophic and it will not help things get better. Anxiety will come and go. So even when it feels like it’s too much to handle, it won’t feel like this forever.
Remind yourself that your situation is temporary because everything is temporary. This will help you keep things in perspective.
A good rule of thumb is to think about whether or not the thing you are anxious about will matter in five years. If it will, give it five minutes of your time. If it won’t, try to let it go.
8. Self Care
When we try to keep up with the fast way we live, we tend not to think twice about saving self-care for later. But usually, it takes a wake-up call like an anxiety attack to really notice how big of a toll this takes on our health.
No matter how fancy or indulgent the term “self-care” sounds, it’s crucial for physical, emotional, and mental health.
If you do nothing for your anxiety, still practice self-care. Find something that soothes you. This can be anything. Start a meditation practice, take a long shower, cook your favorite meal, or have it delivered to you. Start finding something every day that you can do just for you.
Self-care helps you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and it produces positive feelings. It reminds you and others that your needs are important as well.
Self-care helps you manage stress, maintain a better work-life balance, and shows you that you’re worth a lot.
9. Find a Coping Technique
There are a lot of different techniques that you can use to cope with anxiety.
- Take a timeout
- Nutrient-dense sugar-free, starch-free, and gluten-free diet
- Limit alcohol and coffee
- Slow counting
- Deep breathing
- Try a self-help method
The key to managing your anxiety is to find what coping techniques work best for you. Anxiety relief isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone’s body will respond to different relaxation techniques in different ways.
Some people find a yoga practice is crucial to anxiety management. Others connect better with deep breathing. The key is being open to trying out new things and finding what is best for you.
10. Therapy is a Good Thing
When the tips for anxiety we described above aren’t working for you, it’s time to sign up for therapy. It can be overwhelming when you don’t know what’s going on, why you’re feeling anxiety, or when it’s going to happen.
But when you work with a therapist, you can learn the answers to those questions and gain new tools to manage your anxiety.
Too often, therapy comes with a stigma. We’re made to view people in therapy as weak or over-sensitive. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Tips for Anxiety Management
We hope these tips for anxiety sufferers have helped give you an idea of how to manage your anxiety. It can feel so overwhelming, but there are ways to deal with this problem. Whether you choose to follow these tips or seek other help, you can absolutely get your anxiety under control.
For more information on managing anxiety, visit us today.