Coping With Anxiety: Tips, Techniques, And Skills
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Avia James
Anxiety comes with a strong, uncomfortable feeling that can keep you from living your life to the fullest. There are different ways to deal with anxiety, but many ways are not helpful and are even destructive in the long run. Fortunately, there are constructive ways to cope with anxiety. Here is a list of tips, techniques, and skills to refer to when you're feeling anxious.
Adult Coloring Books
In recent years, many people have been turning to color books as a way to cope with anxiety. These coloring books typically contain very detailed pictures that people usually fill in with colored pencils or markers. One study showed that coloring the complex geometrical patterns of mandalas creates a meditative state that decrease anxiety.
Although social interactions are always important, you can also benefit from spending some time alone. Take some time for yourself to relax and enjoy simple pleasures like reading a book, relaxing in a hammock, or doing other relaxing activities.
Painting or drawing a picture can help you express your feelings. Beyond that, art is a way to challenge yourself to concentrate harder and learn something new. You can go to an art therapy group, or you can simply get out your art supplies and start making art. Either way, you'll enjoy yourself and get your mind off your worries.
Practicing assertiveness is a very effective way to cope with anxiety and depression. Dysfunctional anxiety often comes from irrational fears and thoughts. Research shows that as your assertiveness increases, your anxiety decreases. Assertiveness means standing up for yourself calmly and positively. It's a skill you may have to learn if you've been passive, passive-aggressive, or aggressive in the past.
If you suffer from anxiety, it's a good idea to avoid or limit stimulants like caffeine. In a study on anxiety and caffeine, participants with anxiety disorders showed an increase in caffeine tolerance. So, those individuals became more anxious when they drank coffee than people without anxiety disorders.
Build A Support System
Everyone coping with anxiety attacks, social phobia, or any type of anxiety disorders needs a support system made up of trusted friends and family members. Spend time with the people in your life. Share your feelings with those who care about you. Go to them for help with practical problems. Show you care for them, too, by helping them as well.
Finally, you have a good reason to eat chocolate! Research shows that eating a small amount of dark chocolate for three consecutive days can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Deep, controlled breathing, can decrease your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety levels. Simply sit quietly, close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly in and out. Some experts suggest that you breathe into a count of four, hold breath into a count of four, breathe out to a count of four, and hold empty to a count of four.
It only takes 20 minutes of exercise to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, research suggests that an ongoing exercise program can build your resilience of anxiety and depression. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you choose, so long that you get your heart rate up.
Playing a game is a good way to get your mind off of your worries. It also gives you a chance to interact with the people who make up your support system. Play a board game indoors, go outside and shoot baskets, or choose any game that brings you together with others.
Gardening is gaining a reputation among mental health providers as a way to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even if you don't have a large enough yard to put a garden in, you can grow plants or flowers in containers inside your house or apartment.
Get Enough Sleep
Coping with anxiety is harder if you aren't getting enough good sleep. Unfortunately, as research shows, people with anxiety disorders tend to get less and lighter sleep. Addressing your sleep Problem is key in managing anxiety. Get plenty of light during the daytime hours. Before you go to bed, spend some time relaxing, avoid watching TV or using electronic devices in bed, and go to bed early enough to get adequate sleep before morning.
Eating a healthy diet helps with nearly every mental health challenge. Eating too little can increase your anxiety, and so can eating too much, for varied reasons. Eating healthy foods in the right amounts, on the other hand, can improve your mood and decrease your anxiety symptoms. Some foods that are especially helpful for people with anxiety are leafy greens, legumes, nuts, whole grains, oysters, egg yolks, fatty fish, pickles, asparagus, and avocados.
When you believe you're facing an immediate threat, laughing can reduce your anxiety. In one study, listening to a humorous tape before facing the threat of being shocked, reduced the participants' anxiety. So, watching a comedy show, reading a funny book, or simply laughing with friends is a great way to cope with anxiety.
One way to deal with fear and worry is to write about it in a journal. Journaling gives you an opportunity to put your anxious feelings into words. As you write, your anxiety may diminish. There are different types of journals. A reflective journal can help you face and manage your emotions, while a gratitude journal or a success journal can help you maintain positive thoughts.
If you're feeling anxious, meditating can help you regain your sense of calm. There are many different meditation techniques you can learn and practice. One technique involves simply sitting and focusing on an external object of choice. Then, close your eyes, keeping the image in your mind the whole time. Mindfulness meditations may be helpful as well. One mindfulness meditation involves sitting quietly, noticing the sensory input coming to you from the environment and paying attention to the present moment only.
Loud noises and harsh music can make you feel jittery and uncomfortable. However, listening to music can potentially decrease symptoms of anxiety by engaging your senses, activating your brain, and regulating your emotions. Making music is even more helpful. Turn on the tunes, pick up an instrument, or simply sing out loud. You may feel less anxious very soon.
Pets can help you calm fairly quickly. In one study, petting an animal reduced symptoms of anxiety. It didn't matter if the animal was a bunny, a dog, or a turtle. It also made no difference whether the person was an animal-lover or not. Animals have been used to treat any type of anxiety.
One of the best tips for coping with anxiety is to focus on what's most important. Start by listing what you need to do. Then, number your list according to which tasks are most important. Finally, put your attention on the most important things. When you're clear about your priorities, the less important things may no longer add to your overall feeling of anxiety, which will, in turn, be less overwhelming.
Spend Time In Nature
Spending time in a natural environment can decrease symptoms of anxiety. Engaging in a physical activity in nature can add a great deal to the experience. In one study, runners who ran outdoors experienced less anxiety than those who ran indoors. If you don't like running, go for a hike or just take a walk in the park. The fresh air and pleasant surroundings are likely to help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Systematic Muscle Relaxation
Systematic muscle relaxation is a technique for coping with anxiety. One such technique is to lie comfortably on your back. Then, tense and relax each muscle group, one at a time, moving from your feet to the top of your head. If you need guidance, you can get a relaxation recording with a narrator who guides you through the exercise.
Take A Shower
Sometimes all it takes to feel better is a refreshing shower or bath. Whether you usually bathe in the morning or evening, taking another one when feeling anxious, can help a great deal.
Use "I" Statements
Using "I" statements is a technique for resolving problems within relationships. If you're coping with social anxiety, "I" statements can help you minimize conflicts without giving up your sense of self and value. Using assertive communication gains you back a sense control over your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. No matter what type of anxiety disorder you're dealing with, the feeling of personal power that comes from owning your position can help decrease your anxiety.
Helping others is a good way to get your mind off of your problems and increase your positive emotions at the same time. You can volunteer with a charitable organization or simply help a friend, as needed.
Writing poetry or other narratives can be a pleasurable and beneficial activity for anxiety reduction and depressive symptoms management. In one study, participants who took part in poetry therapy experienced less stress and fewer symptoms. Hence, writing your thoughts and feelings in a poetic or a narrated way can be useful in managing your anxiety and depression.
Ask For Help
One of the best coping skills for anxiety reduction is to ask for help when you need it. If symptoms of anxiety are disrupting your life or decreasing your ability to function normally, talking to a therapist may be the most helpful first step to take.
A therapist can teach you even more tips and techniques for coping with anxiety. They can help you develop strategies for dealing with anxiety when it happens. With a counselor's help, you can build your resilience to stress. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, you can learn to examine, evaluate, and change the thoughts that are provoking your anxiety.
You can talk to a licensed counselor at BetterHelp.com for help in coping with anxiety. Convenient online therapy on your schedule allows you to get the help you need in the comfort and security of your own home or anywhere you choose. There's no need to struggle with anxiety alone. With the right help, you can live a calmer, more fulfilling life.