Best Coping Methods For Anxiety
By Sarah Fader
Updated September 13, 2018
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
Stress is everywhere. For those with anxiety, having coping methods are the only way to get through the day. Characters like Brian Cunningham in T.Peterson's "My Life in a Nutshell," employ a variety of different coping methods to calm their minds and make themselves function. Anxiety is usually caused by the body's fight or flight response. It's a natural reaction that is very necessary for our survival, except when it works overtime and disrupts our lives. Understanding what works in the body both biologically and mentally is the key to tackling anxiety attacks. Most coping methods have been designed to attack both.
Meditation and breathing techniques have long been used by many Eastern societies to calm the mind and the heat rate. Practicing meditation techniques when you're not physically anxious helps to create a pattern that your mind can follow without conscious thought. This "auto pilot" can be activated when anxiety is present, gently encouraging your body and mind to relax.
Part of what causes anxiety is fighting against whatever stressor or danger the mind sees rather than accepting it. By fighting, we prolong the response, especially if the danger is only perceived rather than actual. By accepting the stress and forcing your mind to acknowledge its existence, it loses power. Acceptance comes in many forms. You can talk yourself through it. Keeping a journal can also be helpful so that you are reminded of previous times when you encountered the stressor and persevered.
Solve the Problem
This works hand in hand with acknowledgment and acceptance. Is there a way to control the situation to lessen your anxiety? What is making you anxious? Can it be avoided? What would make the situation less stressful? Most therapists will give you questions to ask yourself in these situations so you can create an action plan to de-escalate when faced with the stressor. Also, actively trying to solve the issue distracts your mind by focusing on it differently.
Take a Break
We all need some quiet time to ourselves. Because days can get busy, it's important to be intentional about scheduling time for yourself each day. This is a good time to meditate, practice deep breathing and "quiet" your mind. It is also a great way to decrease stress. Whether the stress is the result of a specific event or general, taking a break is likely to help. Put it aside. Take a walk. Listen to music. Just "clock out" for a few minutes so that your mind can re-center.
Living a healthy lifestyle is an important part of mentally health. Sleeping well, exercising and having a balanced diet have all been linked to decreased anxiety. Living a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk for many of the things that can contribute to anxiety (fear of healthcare costs, fear of getting disease etc.).
Medication and talk therapy have been both been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety. Some people choose one or the other. Some do both at the same time. If you are considering medication, reach out to a Psychiatrist or Medical Doctor (MD) as they will be able to assist with this. If you're interested in talk therapy, BetterHelp is an easy way to find a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety.