Anxiety is a natural stress response that produces feelings of worry, tension, or uneasiness. It can help you cope with challenging situations like speaking in front of people or giving a presentation at work, but when it seems to happen all the time, it can feel overwhelming.
While everyone experiences anxiety intermittently, some people live with it daily, and if you’re one of them, you know it can severely disrupt your day-to-day life. But here’s the good news: Whether you experience sporadic anxiety or it happens frequently, there are many tactics you can use to cope with it and ease your symptoms.
Curious what you can do to help quiet your stress response and stop your anxiety from taking over? Read on to find out.
Work on Identifying and Managing Your Anxiety Triggers
Identifying your anxiety triggers can take some time, but understanding which situations, events, substances, or people trigger an anxiety response is important. Knowing what your triggers are can help you figure out how to limit your exposure to them so your symptoms won’t occur as frequently.
For many people, anxiety triggers include things such as:
- A high-stress work project or work environment
- Being in large crowds of people
- Taking tests or giving public presentations
- Memories of previous traumas
- Financial problems
- Chronic pain or illnesses
- Medication side effects
- Caffeine consumption
- The presence of another mental illness (depression is a common one)
However, not all anxiety triggers are obvious, and it’s possible to develop new ones. If you live with frequent anxiety and aren’t sure what your triggers are, it may be in your best interest to see a behavioral health professional for help identifying them.
Take a Step Back and Practice Deep Breathing
When your anxiety starts to take over, take a moment to step back and think about what’s causing your symptoms. Are you worried something bad is going to happen? Are you upset because you’re dwelling on something that already happened?
For a lot of people, anxiety flare-ups are the result of the mind living outside of the present moment, and if that sounds like you, it’s possible to bring yourself back. How do you do that? By being mindful. And one of the best ways to practice being mindful of the present moment is by engaging in focused, deep breathing exercises.
Here’s a simple deep breathing routine you can try when your anxiety comes calling:
- Seat yourself in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Feel your abdomen expanding with your breath. If you want, you can hold your inhale at the top for one to two seconds.
- Exhale deeply, and again, hold for one to two seconds if you like.
- Continue repeating this deep breathing pattern while focusing your attention fully on your breath and allowing it to keep you in the present moment.
- If you like, you can add in a mantra, such as “I am present” or “be present” to help you focus on each inhale and exhale.
Research has shown that deep breathing is an excellent tool for calming both the mind and body when anxiety strikes. It may take you some practice to focus your attention fully on the present moment, but the more you engage in deep breathing exercises, the easier it will become.
Focus on How You Can Change Your Outlook
Many people have a lot of anxiety about things they have minimal control over — life events that haven’t happened yet or that may never actually occur. If you tend to suffer from anxiety about future situations, you can help ease your symptoms by focusing on what you can actually control and what you can currently change.
Decide how you’re going to deal with the potential situation you’re worried about. When you do, you can let go of your fear around it because you know how you’ll approach it. Another highly effective way to reduce your anxiety or fear around a situation is to change your attitude about it. Rather than focusing on the bad things that might happen, focus your attention on your gratitude for what’s happening right now.
For example, if you’re worried you’ll lose your job and that causes you a lot of anxiety, try to shift your focus to one of gratitude. Think about how grateful you are to have a job and come to work with the mindset that you’ll perform your duties to the best of your ability. In reality, that’s all you can do in the present moment.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Having anxious thoughts swimming around in your head can feel really overwhelming. But you can help combat that feeling by writing those thoughts down.
When you can see what you’re worried about on paper in front of you, it may be easier to understand and process. Journaling is an excellent stress-relief tool that can do more than just help relieve your anxiety. It can actually help you improve your overall well-being.
Take a Walk to Calm Your Mind
Sometimes, taking yourself out of a situation that’s causing you anxiety is the best way to stop your anxious thoughts in their tracks. If you can, head outside for a short, 15-minute walk, or if you can’t head outdoors, try doing about 15 minutes of calm, soothing yoga.
Engaging in some form of gentle physical activity allows you to focus on your body in the present moment, which can help guide your mind out of its anxious space.
Engage in Therapy
If you live with chronic anxiety, therapy is an excellent tool that can help you learn how to change the thought patterns that spiral into full-blown anxiety. Therapy can help you learn new ways of thinking about and responding to your anxiety triggers, so you can prevent your mind from traveling to places you don’t necessarily want it to be.
Please keep in mind there are many other things you can do to deal with symptoms of anxiety. A licensed mental health professional can help you find the best anxiety-management tactics for your unique needs, whether they involve professional treatment or day-to-day coping tools.
If you need psychiatric help to successfully deal with your anxiety, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Prime Behavioral Health in Southlake.