Do you feel like you’re strapped to an unending merry-go-round of worry and stress? Do new, uncomfortable situations make your palms sweaty and your heart skip a beat? If you’re one of the 40 million adults in the United States who suffer from anxiety, you may feel like you attract worries as a whirlpool of negativity.
But BREATHE! There’s hope.
You can live a joyous and productive life. If you’re ready to give anxiety the old one-two punch, read for some tips on managing anxiety.
1. Identify Your Triggers
The first step to managing anxiety is to identify your triggers. What sets off your anxious thoughts and feelings? Is it a specific situation, like public speaking or flying? Or is it more general, like the feeling that you’re constantly under pressure at work?
Once you know your triggers, you can start developing a plan for how to deal with them.
A failproof method of identifying your triggers is to keep an anxiety journal. For one week, carry a small notebook with you and jot down whenever you feel anxious. Include the date, time, place, and any other relevant details. At the week’s end, look at your journal entries. Are there any patterns?
2. Get Professional Help on Time:
Loneliness and social isolation can aggravate anxiety. It causes an individual to turn to crutches like alcohol or drugs to numb the feelings of anxiousness. However, these substances have a very short-term effect and can worsen anxiety in the long run. Therefore, seeking professional help immediately after you identify the problem is essential.
Groups like Delphi help get people’s addiction treatment started. They usually have a therapist to help patients with their anxiety as well. If you’re looking for answers, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety. It focuses on changing pessimistic thinking patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety.
3. Manage Your Thoughts
Anxious thoughts often snowball. One anxious thought leads to another, and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a full-blown anxiety attack.
To prevent anxious thoughts from taking over, you need to learn how to manage them. One way to do this is to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness preaches being present at the moment and accepting your feelings without judgment. For example, take a step back when feeling anxious and observe your thoughts and sensations without reacting to them. Just let them be. You can also try focusing on your breath. Slow and deep breaths can help you relax and refocus your thoughts.
4. Get Moving
The link between physical activity and anxiety relief is well-established. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties. It also helps to manage the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are on the higher side, it can aggravate anxiety and lead to other health problems.
You don’t have to compete in triathlons to reap the benefits of exercise. Even a moderate amount of activity, like a walk around the block, can help you feel fresher and more relaxed. You can also take up a sport like a game of tennis or swimming to channel your energy healthily.
5. Get Some Rest
When you’re anxious, your body is at the apex of being alert. But, unfortunately, it can lead to sleeplessness, which can worsen your situation. It’s a vicious cycle.
You must give your body the rest it needs to break the cycle. While most people associate rest with an 8-hour sleep, it can also include relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.
Make sure to give yourself some downtime every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. And when you do sleep, stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.
6. Meet Your Anxiety Head-On
Avoiding situations that make you anxious might seem like the logical thing to do. But in reality, it only reinforces your anxiety. The more you avoid, the more power your anxiety has over you.
Facing your fears is the only practical way to beat them. It might sound too demanding, but baby steps can help. Start with approaching something that makes you slightly anxious. For example, try attending a small gathering if you’re afraid of social situations. If you’re afraid of heights, try standing on a stool. The key is to challenge your anxiety little by little. As you face your fears, you’ll slowly gain confidence.
7. Give Yourself a Positive Piece of Your Mind
The battle against anxiety is won or lost in your mind. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re not good enough, that you’re going to fail, or that you’re not worthy of love, then it’s no wonder you’re feeling anxious.
These negative thoughts are called cognitive distortions. They’re based on irrational beliefs that don’t reflect reality. But because they’re ingrained in your thinking, they can be hard to shake off. So, if you’re thinking, “I’m such a loser,” try to counter it with, “I’m doing the best I can.”
8. Budget Your Time
It’s unhealthy for your emotional and mental health to be constantly burdened by stress. That’s why it’s important to budget your worry time. Sounds unreal, right?
Worry time is when you set aside a specific period of the day to worry about things bothering you. The rest of the day is a worry-free zone. This technique can help you feel more in control of your anxiety. It also ensures that your stress doesn’t take over the rest of your tasks. An effective way is to jot down your worries in a journal during your worry time, then forget about them until the next day. It’ll take practice to master, but it’s worth it.
9. Start a Gratitude Journal
Anxiety can make you focus on what’s wrong in your life. A gratitude journal can help shift your focus to the positive. Every day, write down a few things you’re grateful for, no matter how small. It can be something as simple as a good cup of coffee or a sunny day.
Focusing on the positive will help you see your life more balanced way. It’ll also remind you that even when things are tough, there’s still a lot to be thankful for.
In some cases, anxiety disorders spiral out of control. No matter how much you try to calm yourself, the anxiety persists. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can be very effective for anxiety disorders. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns. CBT could be a good option for you if you’re struggling to manage your anxiety on your own.