Did you know anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders world-wide? That means you’re not alone, and there are many others out there dealing with anxiety. Fortunately, that also means there are a lot of resources to help you manage it. Here are 10 tips to help you cope with your anxiety.
#1 Question your thought pattern
When you’re experiencing anxiety, your fears take over. You’re often afraid of a situation that may very well not happen. While this can take practice, challenge your fears. See if there is any validity to those thoughts and find where you can take control back.
#2 Practice focused, deep breathing
Breathe in for 4 counts, then breathe out for 4 counts. Do this for a total of 5 minutes. When you even out your breath, you slow down your heart rate which in turn helps you to calm down. This also gives you a different focal point, meaning your brain is now concentrating on the breath and the count instead of whatever anxious thoughts had taken over previously.
#3 Write down your thoughts
Keeping a journal when you’re in the depth of your anxiety can often help you get to the root of the fear or problem. When you know your thought process, you can often come up with ways to combat your fear. Keep a small journal with you everywhere you go, and pull it out when you feel your anxiety creeping in.
#4 Step away
Sometimes you just need to completely remove yourself from a situation. When you feel your anxiety is about to rear its ugly head, walk away for a minute. This helps you to refocus your mind and gets you away from what’s causing the anxiety. Do this, even at work or during important events. It’s way better for you to step away than it is for you to have an anxiety attack in the middle of a meeting.
#5 Let go of the things you can’t control
Most of us like to have a sense of control in our lives. We like to know that we control our fate and no one else can. So it’s also important to remember that we can control ourselves, but we can’t control others. Yes, other people’s decisions can often affect us. You can’t control how they make their decisions and unfortunately you can’t control the outcome. Just like you can’t make the boss pick your sales pitch, or the PTA to choose your fundraiser idea. Just let it go. React properly to others, do what positive things you can, and LET IT GO.
#6 Identify triggers
Knowing what sets off your anxiety can often help you to avoid the trigger in the first place. Research your journal to find patterns of situations and reactions, and work hard to remove those triggers.
#7 Daily meditation
Meditation is very effective in managing anxiety. When practiced regularly, mindful meditation can help you train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts, keeping you from going into the anxiety spiral that seems to come on so quickly. It can be difficult to let your mind calm enough to meditate, and don’t get anxious about that. Whether it’s a single moment of focused thought and breathing or a full hour; do what you can as you can and over time you’ll start to see some major benefits on how you handle those triggering situations.
#8 Pay attention to what you eat
Certain nutrients can help reduce anxiety. Dark chocolate (in moderation), green tea, and omega-3 fatty acids are all part of the list, along with lots of greens and rainbow of fruits and veggies. Introduce these into your diet and see if you see a change in your anxiety reduction.
#9 Try cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT teaches you different ways of thinking about situations and helps you to react differently as well. Talk to a therapist to help you develop ways to change your negative thought patterns and behaviors before they get out of hand.
#10 Talk to your doctor about medications
This one is last, not because it’s not acceptable, but because finding a way to cope with your anxiety naturally is always the first goal. But for many, those natural ways just aren’t enough or as fast as you need. It’s okay to get a little extra help for a period of time while you find other ways. Be open and honest with your doctor about what’s going on and any concerns you have about medications to be sure you find one that suits your needs best.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to anxiety, just as everyone’s anxiety affects them differently. Use these tips and keep trying and learning what works best for you. And of course, try adding massage into your regular self-care routine to help you relax and get some quiet, safe time to yourself.