What are good ways to deal with anxiety?

A survival guide for the anxiety mind

We all feel anxious from time to time. Be it butterflies in your stomach before a first date, sweaty palms right before a big presentation, or even minor panic searching for lost keys or wallets. But when feelings of worry, fear, and dread become excessive, last for long periods, and begin interfering with your daily functioning – it likely means anxiety has gone from normal to disruptive.

As someone who has battled anxiety for years, I know how unpleasant it can be when your mind starts racing out of control. Your heart pounds, breathing speeds up, muscles get tight, and random body parts can tingle or go numb. Some call this the “fight-or-flight” response kicking into high gear even when there’s no real danger. And to make matters worse, we usually respond to these sensations with more anxiety about feeling anxious!

But there is hope, my friend. With consistent effort using certain science-backed techniques, anxiety doesn’t have to hold you, hostage, anymore. You can break free from its clutches and limit its impact dramatically. The key is equipping yourself with the right coping strategies and making them part of your lifestyle.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to take on anxiety and greatly reduce its interference in living your best life!

 

 

1. Practice relaxation techniques daily

While feeling occasional anxiety is normal, having it frequently tends to indicate high-stress levels and hyperactive nervous system activity. Relaxation techniques help calm this down by triggering the exact opposite bodily response for balance. Make time to unwind and press the mental reset button by:

 

Deep breathing: Most of us shallow breathe using only a portion of our lung capacity. Deep diaphragmatic breathing sends messages telling our brain and body to relax. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, feeling your stomach grow. Exhale slowly out your mouth. Repeat for 2-5 minutes.

 

Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense various muscle groups briefly then relax them. This reduces overall tension and distraction from anxious thoughts. Starting with your feet, alternate tensing and relaxing each body part until finished. Ah, sweet relief!

 

Meditation: Focusing on something simple like your breath, a mantra, visualization, or listening to relaxing music quiets your mind’s chatter. Many anxiety sufferers resist meditation for fear of what thoughts might arise. Stick with it and this gets easier over time.

Yoga: Combine physical activity, stretching, deep breathing, and meditation. Flow through poses while clearing your mind. *Fair warning – the first few times doing yoga can feel awkward. Laugh it off if you fall out of a pose!

What are good ways to deal with anxiety?

 

2. Exercise regularly

Ever had anxious thoughts crash in like a big wave while sitting around? Yeah, me too. Getting active is a surefire way to disrupt this. Vigorous exercise shifts focus to your body’s movements and burn off nervous energy in a productive way.

Physical activity also sparks the release of endorphins which are “feel good” chemicals that calm your mind. Maybe this is why some people refer to their exercise routines as “therapy”.

Most experts recommend aiming for 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3-5 days per week. Options are unlimited – walking, jogging, biking, dancing, step aerobics, swimming, etc. Start low with lighter intensity until you build endurance.

I’ve personally found getting outside for walks, hikes, or running to be more mentally clear. But if pouring rain or other factors interfere, workout videos in your living room serve as a decent Plan B.

Just be sure to pick activities you enjoy rather than viewing exercise as a chore. Finding it rewarding maximizes consistency and anxiety-lowering effects.

 

 

3. Challenge negative thoughts

Many psychotherapy approaches share a common component – identifying and restructuring distorted thinking patterns that fuel anxiety. This falls under the umbrella of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Negative experiences from our past can embed harmful thought habits that play on repeat.

An example would be someone repeatedly interpreting minor criticisms at work as proof that “I’m incompetent and going to be fired” when no such evidence exists.

Thoughts often betray us with irrational assumptions and conclusions not based on reality. Their volume can also give them an air of false authority. But there are always alternative perspectives.

 

To apply CBT techniques:

❏ Tune into self-talk and identify recurring negative thought patterns. These usually contain words like “always, never, worst case scenario, failure, stupid, danger” etc.

❏ Objectively assess if thought distortions are present – black & white thinking, fortune telling, catastrophizing, emotional reasoning, etc.

❏ Offer counter-evidence against the thought’s irrational claims. See if a more balanced, realistic perspective can be reached.

This process weakens negativity’s influence over time as you reinforce healthier thought habits. Anxious ramblings lose their punch through fact-checking.

I won’t lie to you, this takes practice before becoming second nature. Persistence pays off.

 

 

4. Get enough quality sleep

Have you ever noticed feeling more on edge after a few nights of skimping on sleep? Those lost winks can show up as next-day anxiety easily. Sleep deprivation strains overall coping skills for handling stressful situations.

Quality rest orchestrates hormone regulation related to mood, concentration, decision-making, and emotional reactions. But when we repeatedly fail to recharge properly, anxiety-provoking imbalances occur.

Aim for 7-9 hours nightly so you can meet each day bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to slay more anxiety dragons! Easier said than done, I know.

What are good ways to deal with anxiety?

 

Make sleep a priority by developing solid sleep hygiene habits:

❏ Go to bed/wake up at consistent times to set your circadian rhythm

❏ Avoid stimulating screens/activities the hour before bed

❏ Limit caffeine, especially late afternoon

❏ Create an optimal rest environment – cool, dark and quiet

❏ Write thoughts down on paper when they race as you try to sleep

❏ Try calming tea, white noise, or progressive muscle relaxation

Follow proper sleep best practices nightly. Then observe the positive impact it has on anxiety levels the next day. Sweet dreams!

 

 

 

5. Connect with others

We all need to know we’re not alone. Anxiety and isolation tend to feed off each other in an ugly continuous cycle. Opening up to close friends or family about what you’re going through can short-circuit this.

Even if those who care about you don’t fully “get it”, chances are high they’ll at least offer emotional comfort and reassurance.

Beyond your inner circle, find groups, either locally or online, where you can safely share anxiety struggles. Support communities formed around mental health provide 24/7 forums, educational resources, and accountability partners.

Connecting with fellow fighters, especially those a few steps ahead in their recovery, sparks hope. Their wisdom and encouragement nourish your resilience. And your victories can inspire them in return.

The anxious brain often tries to convince us that nobody can understand what we’re going through. Support groups prove that a bald-faced lie. You’ve got this!

What are good ways to deal with anxiety?

 

 

Conclusion

I hope this survival guide provides a helpful starting point in learning how to manage anxiety and limit its disruptiveness. What suits some people may not suit others. Be patient with yourself and don’t hesitate to tweak suggested tips to fit your needs.

The key is staying consistent with multiple coping strategies rather than seeking a one-and-done quick fix. Anxiety recovery is an ongoing journey. Expect ups and downs along the way. Celebrate small wins to keep momentum.

And on days when all else fails, remind yourself that anxiety is only temporary until the storm passes. The clouds always part eventually. You’ve survived 100% of past bad days. This too shall pass!

Now go out there, be bold, and give anxiety the boot. We’re all rooting for you!

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