What is the best way to deal with anxiety?
Occasional anxiety is part of life. It is our brain’s way of protecting us from potentially dangerous situations. But what happens when it becomes more than just temporary worry or fear. How do you overcome your anxiety or learn to cope so you can continue to enjoy your daily life? Here’s some advice from other anxiety sufferers and licensed professionals about dealing with your anxiety.
Liz Kelly, LICSW, Psychotherapist & Mental Wellness Consultant Licensed in DC and Virginia. Find her at lizkellylicsw.
Prioritize Sleep and Physical Activity
Anxiety is something we all deal with and it serves a purpose. Anxiety is your brain’s way of protecting you from danger in your environment. The problem occurs when your brain overestimates perceived threats and causes you to become overwhelmed or shut down.
One of the best ways to manage anxiety is to prioritize sleep and moving your body. Getting quality sleep helps you regulate your emotions. Physical activity releases tension stored in the body and boosts chemicals in the brain that make you feel good.
Mindful breathing is a great way to reduce anxiety. Consciously slowing down your breathing reduces your heart rate and blood pressure and enables you to think more clearly and calmly.
Another strategy to manage anxiety is to take action. Ask yourself, “What is one small step that I can take right now to reduce my stress?”
Find Simple Solutions
The best way to deal with anxiety is through small and simple solutions. Anything that requires too much effort, too much thinking, or is overall too complicated, is just going to trigger my anxiety and make it worse. Journaling, for example, is something that a lot of people have suggested to me in the past, but it doesn’t really help. It just causes me to overthink, and I go down an even worse spiral of anxiety.
Instead, one of the things that have really helped me deal with anxiety is practicing yoga every day. It doesn’t have to be for too long, 15 minutes or so does the trick, and it means that I get a little time to myself, in which all I have to do is focus on breathing and moving my body.
I find that this really helps ground me within the moment so that I can get through things easier.
Other things that help me deal with anxiety are going for walks and practicing mindfulness. Reminding myself that my anxiety is valid is very important, and my partner does a lot to reassure me!
Jessica Frick is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in treating anxiety and OCD. Learn more about her at Metamorphosis LLC.
Desensitize Your Brain With Repetition
The best way to deal with anxiety is to not deal with it. Part of what makes anxiety feel so horrible is that we immediately see it as a problem.
Think about it – the caveperson who was good at predicting and avoiding danger lived longer, while the one who didn’t worry didn’t live so long. Those people who were on the lookout for danger lived longer, had more babies, and passed those genes onto us.
Our brains are therefore hardwired to look for danger, even if there is none! Unfortunately for us, our brains view difficult thoughts, feelings, urges, memories, etc., in the same way they would view an external danger (think life-threatening – like being chased by a predator), and react in the same way.
The best way to combat this is to practice with your brain – noticing when it seems to detect danger and working to retrain your brain’s viewpoint of what is dangerous. For example, if you feel anxious every time you go to work, you have two options:
- you keep going to work and figure out a way to deal with anxiety
- you stop going to work
The first option helps your brain to learn that something isn’t necessarily dangerous, and over time, your brain gets used to the situation, which generally lowers your anxiety and increases your ability to cope. The second option reinforces the brain’s initial hunch that “work = danger” since you’re deciding to avoid it – which only worsens anxiety. When you have to go back to work, you feel so much worse.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, take a step back and notice what your brain is saying without judgment. Don’t worry about your worry or beat yourself up for feeling anxious. Simply notice it, name it, and keep going on with your day.
If you struggle, try taking 30 seconds to check in:
- What thoughts and feelings are showing up for me right now? Label the pain you’re noticing (for example, “There’s a feeling of anxiety here”).
- Check in with your body by moving around in some way – stretch, walk around in a circle, straighten your back in a chair.
- Check in with your environment by turning your attention to your senses – what are a few things you can see? Hear? Touch? Smell? Taste?
- Bring yourself back to the task at hand. This usually does not get rid of the anxiety – but it often does give you a greater sense of control over your actions and reconnects you to what is truly important.
Four Ways To Deal With Anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness or fear that causes someone to exhibit certain momentary reactions like sweating, rapid heartbeats, feeling restlessness, and tension. Someone suffering from anxiety gets triggered when they encounter challenges like making an important decision, facing a panel, or speaking to an audience. Below are the best ways to deal with anxiety.
Identify your triggers and learn to manage them: To have control over your anxiety, identifying what triggers and learning how to manage them is one of the best strategies to adopt. You can identify these triggers by yourself or with the help of a professional therapist.
1. Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a designed pattern of learning how to think and react to situations that trigger your anxiety. Therapists can help you develop helpful steps to control and change negative thoughts before they take over you.
2. Engage in mindful meditation: The effect of mindful meditation cannot be overemphasized in dealing with anxiety. Although it takes some time to master, mindful meditation helps you dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise.
3. Maintain a healthy body and mind: Regularly engaging in physical exercises, eating properly, and getting enough sleep helps you stay in the proper frame of mind keeping anxiety triggers away.
Daniela Wolfe, LMSW, and Founder and CEO at Best D Life – Helping You Find the Bliss in Your Busy.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
Anxiety is when we worry about the future, about things that haven’t happened yet, or may not even happen. Being aware of this and acknowledging this fact is one step in dealing with anxiety. Another is getting comfortable being uncomfortable. You can’t avoid or eliminate the situations that cause anxiety – but settling into those feelings and learning to get comfortable in them, riding them out – is how they stop controlling you. As they say, “The more you resist, the more they persist.”
Strengthen Your Body’s Stress Adaptors
The best way to deal with anxiety is to heal the adrenal glands and strengthen the nervous system function with a combination of an alkaline diet, no stimulants (coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, energy drinks, etc.), a calm, stress-free lifestyle, and an herbal protocol.
Anxiety comes from a variety of factors – physical, emotional, and mental, and can even be traced to specific traumas. In addition to dietary and lifestyle changes, yogic breathwork, meditation, and practicing staying present (psychological/spiritual work) is essential.
Overall, a holistic approach is necessary to truly see long-term benefits in anxiety reduction.
Try the See-Hear-Feel Technique
The truth is that anxious thoughts are often irrational worries about some future events or burdens from our past. So, the best remedy to deal with it is to learn to live in the present moment. For that, I suggest the following see-hear-feel technique:
- Focus on what you see around you.
- Focus on what you hear.
- Focus on how you feel. Recognize if your worries are irrational.
It’s important to stop for a moment and focus on things and other stimuli around you. That will help you detach from your anxious thoughts and be more present.
Find A Distraction When Anxious
The best way to deal with anxiety is to focus on something productive. The solution would be to get on task and do something productive. You can paint your fence or mow the lawn. Anything that helps you be productive is a good healthy way to deal with anxiety.
Exercise and Eat Well
I would recommend you to exercise daily as it is the best way to get all the frustration out of your head. It will make you feel good and healthy as well. Also, do not skip meals. Eat healthily. After all, food is the best way to keep you in a good mood. Do not sacrifice your sleeping schedule for unnecessary thoughts. Practice mindfulness. It will make you calm and ease your anxiety.
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