Strategies To Help Cope With Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated June 13, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Most of us experience anxiety occasionally—it’s a normal response to stressful events, major life changes, and other challenging situations. For some, though, anxiety can become a severe and consistent presence, affecting emotional well-being, physical health, and ability to function. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the US, affecting approximately 40 million adults annually.

Because of this prevalence, the significant impacts anxiety can produce, and the varied circumstances in which anxiety can arise, developing a repertoire of coping strategies can be important. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of ten coping strategies you can use to help manage the symptoms of anxiety in your life.

Looking to find techniques for managing anxiety that work?

Understanding anxiety

Anxiety, or anxiousness, is a natural and often necessary response to stress or perceived threats. It involves temporary feelings of worry, nervousness, or unease, and can manifest both mentally and physically. 

When you are anxious, you may experience unease, worry, or even fear, as well as physical symptoms like sweating, increased heart rate, dizziness, trembling, and gastrointestinal issues. You may find it difficult to concentrate or calm down, and could feel compelled to avoid certain situations or activities that you feel may exacerbate your anxiety. 

It’s normal to experience anxiety from time-to-time, such as before a big test, an important meeting, or major life event. This type of anxiety is typically short-lived, and can even be motivating. However, when it becomes chronic or overwhelming, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

Recognizing anxiety disorders

Unlike anxiousness, which is temporary and situation-specific, anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent, excessive worry and fear that can significantly impair daily functioning. 

Common anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Specific Phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Symptoms of anxiety disorders will depend on the specific type of anxiety disorder but may include persistent negative thoughts, feelings of overwhelm, and panic attacks. These anxiety symptoms can cause issues at work or school, impact relationships, contribute to physical health issues, and even occur alongside other mental health disorders like depression.

The primary treatment options for anxiety are typically psychotherapy and medication. In addition to these modalities, experts have identified a number of practices and activities that can help reduce anxiety symptoms.

10 evidence-based ways to manage anxiety and improve mental health

If you’re living with an anxiety disorder, you can benefit from engaging in habits and activities aimed at reducing anxiety. This may involve committing to a healthy lifestyle that reduces the occurrence of anxious episodes, and practices that limit the severity of anxiety symptoms.

Self-care as a strategy for reducing anxiety

Self-care refers to the act of improving or safeguarding one’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Research suggests that self-care can reduce stress levels, improve physical health, and lead to an overall higher quality of life. 

This includes healthy lifestyle habits such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Spending time with friends and loved ones
  • Limiting screen time
  • Maintaining a reasonable work-life balance

However, your practice can include almost anything that nourishes your body and soul. Self-care can include journaling, meditating, drinking a cup of coffee, playing the guitar, or reading. In addition to reducing stress, self-care can help take your mind off of ruminative thoughts that may contribute to anxiety.

Mindfulness for anxiety

Mindfulness refers to a state of increased awareness of and control over one’s thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Whereas anxiety might cause “runaway thoughts” that impact your emotional and physical wellbeing, mindfulness can help you quiet your mind, relax, and cultivate a sense of presence. 

To learn this skill for anxiety, consider using guided mindfulness meditations, doing deep breathing exercises, or delving into mindfulness as a practice through self-study. Mindfulness-based therapies have been found to be especially effective for treating anxiety, and can help you learn the fundamentals of mindfulness so you can practice it in your day-to-day life.

Exercise as a coping strategy

There is a substantial body of evidence pointing to the benefits of physical activity for anxiety. When we exercise, our bodies produce endorphins, which can decrease pain and create feelings of happiness. This can alleviate stress, improve your mood, and improve sleep quality all of which may reduce anxiety symptoms. 

If you’re experiencing acute anxiety, consider taking a walk, practicing yoga, or engaging in some other type of physical exercise that elevates your heart rate for a sustained period. You might also consider how you can incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine to help keep anxiety symptoms at bay.

Take a bath

Soaking in warm water has been found to offer several benefits for our mental and physical health, including reduced anxiety symptoms. Taking a bath can help ease anxiety and tension in your body, relieve pain that may exacerbate stress, and decrease feelings of irritability or anger. You can make your bath even more relaxing by mixing in a calming essential oil like lavender or sandalwood.

Get creative

Recent research suggests a link between mental wellness and creative activities like arts and crafts. If your anxiety symptoms feel overwhelming, you may benefit from engaging in a creative pursuit, such as painting, drawing, or playing an instrument. Whatever your chosen medium, a creative pursuit can be an effective way to manage anxiety-inducing thoughts.

Prioritize rest and sleep

If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety, it might help to stop and rest. This could mean taking a short break, taking a mental health day off work, or even just going to bed early. 

Because a lack of adequate sleep is known to trigger and exacerbate anxiety, it may also be worth addressing any sleep hygiene issues that could be impacting sleep quality or duration. To help you get the recommended 8 hours, try to implement a healthy night-time routine, avoid screens before bed, and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Spend time in nature

Research has found that connecting with nature can help lower anxiety—both acute and chronic. Consider looking for ways to incorporate nature into your daily routine, such as taking a walk in a park, hiking, gardening, or simply spending time outdoors. This connection with nature can provide a calming effect, reduce anxiety, and improve overall mental health.

Limit alcohol 

While alcohol may briefly relax you, it can also lead to poor sleep, disrupt your self-care routine, and impact your overall health and wellbeing, which can in turn cause or worsen anxiety. 

This could help explain the strong link between alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorders—and why abstaining from alcohol is associated with a lower risk of anxiety. To avoid these negative effects, consider limiting alcohol consumption, particularly late at night, or abstaining altogether. 

Anxiety support system

A strong social network is considered a vital aspect of mental wellness, making it important to build up a support system around you. Friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors can be a source of both emotional and practical support as you learn to manage your anxiety and contend with day-to-day stressors. You might also consider seeking out anxiety support groups, either online or in your local area.  

Involve an anxiety professional

A mental health provider can help you work through the emotional challenges of anxiety, learn about potential sources of your feelings, and address co-occurring conditions. In therapy, you’ll learn how to implement the above coping strategies, as well as learn other coping and mindfulness skills so you can better manage your anxiety symptoms.

Looking to find techniques for managing anxiety that work?

Therapy for managing anxiety

If you struggle to manage anxiety with at-home coping strategies, it may be worth seeking professional help. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction are two interventions that have been found to be effective in treating anxiety.  

If you are looking for a flexible, affordable, and convenient way to attend anxiety therapy from the comfort of home, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may be an option. Research suggests that online therapy is as efficacious as in-person treatment for anxiety disorders and depression. 

With BetterHelp, you can work with a qualified mental health professional remotely via phone, video call, or live chat. Your BetterHelp membership also includes useful resources like guided journaling, group therapy, and digital worksheets geared toward helping you develop healthy strategies for coping with anxiety.


While experiencing anxiety from time to time is normal, it can have significant effects if it isn’t kept in check. Luckily, there are many safe and effective solutions for managing anxiety that you can incorporate into your daily life. With the above coping strategies and, possibly, the help of a therapist, you can reduce the impact anxiety has on your life and take the next steps on your mental health journey.
Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started