How To Navigate Anxiety In Your Daily Life

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated April 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Everyone may experience emotions differently, and anxiety is included. Anxiety might feel like a bucket overflowing with excessive, worrying thoughts for some people. It may feel like these irrational thoughts are taking up every inch of the bucket and pushing out everything else. Eventually, anxiety may reach a tipping point, and you may even be thinking, “anxiety is ruining my life.”

For others, anxiety is an emotional response to everyday situations or events with unknown outcomes. According to a 2017 study, moderate levels of anxiety can be productive. When individuals in this study viewed stressful events as challenges rather than threats, their anxiety correlated with higher energy levels and better performance. However, if your anxiety is severe or challenging, you may work to navigate it through treatment.

Anxiety is treatable and manageable with guidance

What causes anxiety?

Stressful events, caffeine, hormone changes, and many other factors can cause anxiety.

In response to daily stressors, many individuals may feel stress or anxiety. Simply worrying about the future or occasionally feeling nervous doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. While there is no "cure" or way to entirely stop anxiety permanently, there are ways to manage these feelings, such as seeking professional help or learning techniques to improve your focus, breathing, and mental clarity.

If you're experiencing more regular and intense feelings of anxiety, you may have an anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health outlines several significant types of anxiety disorders, and symptoms can vary depending on the diagnosis. These disorders include the following. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience constant, uncontrollable worry that occurs most days for at least 6 months. GAD is most common in women and runs in families. Additional symptoms may include trouble sleeping, trembling, irritability, and the inability to relax.

Panic Disorder

Among people living with panic disorder, one of the most recognizable symptoms is a panic attack, a sudden period of intense fear, discomfort, or perceived loss of control, typically without any apparent danger. Talking to a mental health professional may help you get a diagnosis or receive the help you deserve and receive treatment relating to panic attacks.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder causes extreme fear or stress in social situations. People with the disorder often avoid social settings that provoke anxiety. This can be disruptive as they may struggle to attend school, go to work, and perform daily routines like a trip to the grocery store. 

Phobia-related Disorders

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder related to a specific object, animal, or scenario. Common phobias include an extreme fear of heights, needles, spiders, enclosed spaces, wide open spaces, and blood.

Common treatment options for anxiety and anxiety disorders

Researchers and healthcare professionals recommend various treatment options to manage anxiety symptoms. Anxiety treatment may differ for everyone, so give yourself time and compassion as you explore your options. 


Some people choose to see a doctor or a psychiatrist who can prescribe anxiety medication. Medication may help you better manage the distressing thoughts that often accompany anxiety. Discuss this option with your healthcare provider and ensure you clearly understand the medication's purpose and side effects. Some medicines may cause side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, or trouble sleeping, and your doctor may have you try different types of medication until you settle on one that’s just right for you.


For those experiencing anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment. It often encourages you to challenge ineffective thought patterns and refrain from anxiety-driven behaviors. It can also help you identify panic attack triggers so you can make changes to help reduce and ultimately eliminate panic attacks. 

Other options include acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which encourages people to change their relationships with their thoughts and cultivate more psychological flexibility. Any mode of therapy may help people with anxiety become more aware and accepting of the present moment. 


Meditation may teach the mind to focus and detach from negative thoughts, which makes it a potentially valuable tool for anxiety. When you meditate, you might learn to regain control over your thought patterns and ultimately release thoughts that don't support your health and well-being.


Daily strategies to decrease anxiety

In addition to therapy, medication, and meditation, there are several strategies you can implement in your daily life. Anxiety symptoms often improve when you practice self-care and prioritize your physical health along with your mental health.


Exercise can be an affordable and convenient treatment option for people living with anxiety. Whether dancing, jogging, or walking around the block, exercise can support mental and physical health and divert attention from anxious thoughts.

Grounding techniques 

Grounding is another low-cost tool for long-term mental health. One common grounding technique is the 5-4-3-2-1 method, which requires using all five senses to count real things in front of you. This exercise "grounds" you and challenges you to focus on all five senses.

Spending time with loved ones 

Certain people can support your mental health and help you reduce worry. When you're struggling with anxiety, spending time with friends and family is often a positive distraction that can help you reframe anxious thought patterns. It may be helpful to be honest and admit you have been experiencing anxiety; in some cases, they might offer coping strategies that you haven't even considered. Loved ones may also be able to point out the unlikelihood that your worst fears will actually happen, helping to ground you in reality. 

Say no and stay home 

In a world where you may be afraid you are missing out, having a full social life and going out frequently may be tempting. However, a night alone may also help you relax. 

When you're feeling anxious, consider saying no and engaging in a therapeutic activity at home. You can check off a chore, cook dinner with your partner, or watch your favorite non-news TV channel. 

Care for your needs when you think, “anxiety is ruining my life”

If you find yourself saying "yes" to everything, only to feel more anxious and overwhelmed, it may help to pause, listen to your body, and identify areas of your life that need more attention. 

Whether you hope to improve your sleep or ensure you're regularly eating, taking care of yourself can be a crucial step toward managing your anxiety.

Anxiety is treatable and manageable with guidance

Assess your relationship with substances 

Chronic anxiety and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. To manage your anxiety, you may want to avoid or moderate your daily consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and other substances and identify healthier tools with the support of a therapist. 

Connect with your breath 

When you're experiencing anxiety, you may not realize that you're breathing differently. During moments of peak anxiety, remind yourself to take deep, calming breaths and slowly breathe yourself back to baseline.

If you're looking for guidance, there are several breathing exercises that may help you calm down and return to the present moment.

Try essential oils 

Studies suggest that aromatherapy can be an effective tool for alleviating anxiety. Essential oils are available in a range of soothing aromas, which can create a calming aura in any space. Before trying any oils or supplements, consult your doctor to discuss any unwanted side effects.

Seeking help for your mental health

If you’ve realized you are living with anxiety, you may struggle to leave home or find a counselor you feel comfortable with. In that case, you might appreciate the convenience and flexibility of online counseling. With online counseling, you can choose between video calls, phone calls, or messaging with your therapist. 

Additionally, research suggests that online therapy can help manage common anxiety symptoms. In a study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers outlined the effectiveness of internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in guiding patients through anxiety treatment. Post-treatment, the severity of the patient's anxiety symptoms decreased significantly.

If you're uncomfortable meeting a counselor in person, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may allow you to work with a licensed counselor from the comfort of your home. 


If you're living with anxiety, worried about getting through your daily routine, or believe anxiety ruining your life may be a possibility, you're not alone; there are options to gain support. If you're looking for professional support, consider reaching out to a counselor to get started.

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment
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