How To Beat Anxiety In 7 Steps

Updated July 10, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Maria Abada, LPC

Anxiety is incredibly burdensome, and sometimes it can feel downright impossible to control. The truth is that you can beat anxiety, but you will most likely benefit from the assistance of others, and it will require plenty of effort on your part. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it will be a work in progress, but it can be done, and this article will show you how you can take the necessary steps to start fighting anxiety today.

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1. Consider Why You Are Feeling Anxious

The first step to beating anxiety will always begin with understanding the particular causes of why you are experiencing it. Everyone has different reasons for feeling anxious, but you can be assured that you aren’t alone in this.

Many of you will already know precisely why you feel this way – perhaps you are dealing with social anxiety and feel like you are being judged by others, or maybe your stress is related to driving a car because of the possible dangers that come with it.

Others might need some help digging up some of the root causes of their anxiety, and a professional, such as a therapist, can help you discover what created yours so you can beat anxiety. Even if you already know why you are anxious, a therapist can help you look even more profoundly and address many of the things in the past. For example, a patient may have been bullied in school decades ago, and these experiences have contributed to his or her social anxiety in adulthood.

2. Ask Yourself: Is The Threat Real?

Anxiety has a way of making us feel like we are in imminent danger, even if the source of it is something that can’t actually harm you, in most cases.

Oftentimes, the things that people worry about usually never happens in the first place, yet, the fear of it can be very persistent. For instance, many people refuse to fly on a plane because of the rare events that they see in the media about a catastrophe, but in reality, flying is one of the safest modes of transportation, and there is an extremely slim chance of a disaster happening.

It’s easier said than done, but sit down for a moment and evaluate the odds, you might realize that your fear is overblown. However, your anxiety is telling you that it isn’t, and that’s the issue, so it will take some practice to quell it and be able to rationalize your situation, but it will be necessary when trying to beat anxiety.

3. Realize That It’s Probably Not The End Of The World

Even if the threat actually happens for some reason, there is a very good chance that you will come out of it unscathed. If you plan to beat anxiety, accepting the outcomes of things will be essential, but more than likely, nothing will happen anyway.

Sure, some things have high stakes, such as taking a college entrance exam, but if you prepare adequately, there isn’t much else you can do. Even if you have a less-than-desirable outcome, you will still live, and you can possibly try again in the future. It will be a setback, but it’s not over for you.

In fact, preparedness and utilizing critical thinking and adopting new problem-solving skills can help reduce anxiety significantly in case something does occur. On the other hand, you should realize that many of the things that we worry about are completely outside of our control as well.

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4. Be Mindful Of Fear & Negativity

Related to the previous two strategies, another one that you can practice is being aware of and accepting your thoughts for what they are.

Everyone experiences negative emotions such as fear, but it doesn’t always dictate how they live their lives. If anxiety is limiting what you feel like you can do, you will need to try to refrain from doing things like avoiding the sources of your anxiety or pushing away or controlling your thoughts. Trying to control everything will just make the fear persist because you are spending energy and placing importance on it – this is not how you will beat anxiety.

Instead, you should try to focus on the things that you find most important to you, such as your career, personal goals, family, relationships, etc., However, if any of these are contributing to your anxiety, the main takeaway here is that you will just need to be aware of your anxiety, and channel it elsewhere and look for things that enhance and fulfill your life.

5. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Outside of changing how you approach and respond to anxiety mentally, there are methods you can physically use to help calm yourself down, especially if you are experiencing those uncomfortable symptoms associated with being stressed out, like a rapid heartbeat, and fast, shallow breathing.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to lie down or sit up straight, take in a deep breath from your nose and let the air fill up your stomach. Slowly let the air escape from your nose or through your lips slightly. This will encourage your body to elicit the relaxation response and reduce tension. It won’t beat anxiety permanently, but it will help calm you down whenever it does rear its ugly head.

There are multiple ways to learn how to relax, but this method is the most common. But you are encouraged to try some others out to see what works best for you. [1]

6. Start Exercising If You Haven’t Already

One of the main perks of exercise is that it is one of the best stress relievers you can take advantage of, and like relaxation techniques, there are multiple ways to start incorporating exercise into your life and beat anxiety.

There is plenty of research on the benefits of exercise and mental health, but some of the main reasons why it works are because it releases endorphins, which can help you feel good and less tense. You may be able to sleep better, as well! [2]

Some people enjoy lifting weights, while others may prefer to run, walk, jog, cycle, or swim. Many individuals also like to play sports. Yoga is also an excellent method because it includes physical movement but also focuses intensely on relaxing. There is something for everyone, and all it will take is some commitment on your part to see the benefits of exercising on your anxiety.

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7. Face Your Fears

It sounds scary, but confronting the causes of anxiety will ultimately be what helps you beat anxiety. By doing this, you can become desensitized to them, and hopefully, even start to realize that these things were never really a threat, to begin with.

Avoiding the things that make you feel anxious may give you temporary relief and assure you that nothing will happen, but it also reinforces the negative responses in your brain. By staying away from what bothers you, you never properly adapt, and the fear will always be there. You might also find yourself actively trying to steer clear of them, and this uses a lot of emotional energy that can be used elsewhere.

This strategy is a core concept in exposure therapy, and by participating in it, your anxiety will eventually diminish or even disappear over time. In the next section, you will learn more about treatment and how you can find a professional who can help you today.

Professional Help For Anxiety

Seeking therapy is one of the best things you can do when trying to beat anxiety. Even though you’re the one who is personally affected by it, there are people who give you strategies and other insight, so you don’t have to fight it alone. Therapists who specialize in treating anxiety will be there for you every step of the way.

Some very practical methods that therapists use to help people with any form of anxiety are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a broad type of psychotherapy that aims to change the way people think and behave to the thoughts that bother them.

Exposure therapy can be considered a form of CBT because it has the same goals, but the technique is more specific and is designed to help you confront the things that give you an anxious feeling, which will then decrease avoidance and make you less fearful. [3]

This type of therapy will always be performed safely and can be a gradual process, and it has been scientifically proven to help people with anxiety and depression, along with a wide array of mental health conditions. [3]

In addition to this, speaking to your doctor or a psychiatrist can also give you medical advice on how you can manage anxiety. For severe cases of anxiety, prescription medication can be quite helpful in controlling your symptoms and making it easier to carry out the strategies you need to beat anxiety.

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BetterHelp Can Help

A therapist can’t prescribe you medication, but they can help guide you through everything you need to do to start minimizing your anxiety.

At BetterHelp, licensed and professional counselors and therapists are available online who are experienced in treating patients with anxiety and depression and helping them get on track to living their lives to the fullest.

The things that you learn in therapy will take some work, and you will need commitment, but BetterHelp strives to make it as easy as possible by offering online sessions that are convenient and affordable. After all, you are trying to fight anxiety, not add more of it. Signing up is simple, and everything can be done from home!

Conclusion

Hopefully, by reading this article and learning how to beat anxiety, you will begin to get on-course with these steps. It helps to have a plan-of-action and know what to expect when trying to tackle complex issues such as this. Most importantly, though, you are not alone, and you don’t need to go about it by yourself. Stress and anxiety can go away with the right approach and guidance from a professional who has helped others like you.

References

  1. The University of Michigan. (2018, June 28). Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. Retrieved from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255
  2. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2018). Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
  3. American Psychological Association. (2020). What Is Exposure Therapy? Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/exposure-therapy

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