How To Cope With Anxiety Issues

Updated October 3, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Dealing with anxiety is hard. Whether you are going through a short period of heightened stress and worry or are diagnosed with anxiety disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, there are ways you can cope with your symptoms. The key to cope with anxiety is using your mind, body and social networks to your advantage.

Learning How To Cope With Anxiety Could Improve Your Life

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of intense worry, nervousness or fear. We all experience anxiety from time to time. Although it is uncomfortable, our anxiety has good intentions. It gets our adrenaline going so we can focus on overcoming a difficult task or flee a dangerous situation. It helps us prevent worst case scenarios and plan for the unknown.

Unfortunately, anxiety is an emotion that can easily spiral out of control. If anxiety seems to affect you most days, starts causing other symptoms in the body like palpitations, nausea or dizziness or follows your thoughts no matter where they go, you might be one of the millions of people living with an anxiety disorder. If you need to know how to cope with anxiety issues, you are in luck. There are many things you can try. For best results, use multiple strategies at the same time.

Mind

The mind is where anxiety starts. Often, it is helpful to try to cope with your symptoms by working with your thoughts. Here are some powerful mental tactics you can use:

Plan

Many times, anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown. Feeling unsure about the future or not knowing how a particular problem or situation will resolve itself is stressful. If this is the case for you, it might be helpful to come up with a plan for the worries that are lingering on your mind.

For example, if you are anxious about the outcome of a job interview, sit down with a pen and paper and list all the situations associated with that worry that are bothering you. You will likely have examples such as not getting the job, not hearing back from the hiring manager, not knowing how to negotiate a salary, or having to move your family if you do get the job. For each of your secondary worries, come up with a solid plan that consists of the next steps you will take should one of your primary worries happen.

This example might look like the following:

Worry Plan
Not getting the job· Ask the hiring manager why and work on any gaps in my skills

· Update my résumé and interview style based on feedback

· Apply to 5 more jobs this week

Not hearing from the hiring manager· If there is no call by Friday, I will call or email the hiring manager for a status update
Negotiating salary· Research online for salary negotiation tips

· Look up the ballpark salary range for the position

· Ask for a number slightly higher than I need so I can accept a counter-offer.

Moving family· Ask about relocation packages

· Budget the costs of moving

Accept Your Feelings

Another popular strategy for coping with anxiety is acceptance of your feelings. Anxiety doesn't feel good, but if you can accept that it's present, it is easier to manage. This step takes practice. You will have to learn about anxiety and why it affects the body the way it does. Doing this will show you its effects aren't as dangerous as they seem. Meditation and therapy are also helpful tools for practicing acceptance.

Dedicate Time To Worry

Some people find that their anxiety is easier to cope with when they know they have a specific time dedicated to worry. Set a timer each day and find a place where you can be alone. During your worry time, give yourself as much freedom as you need to worry about anything you want, in any way you want. Once the time is up, mentally set aside your thoughts and move forward with your day, knowing another time to worry is on your schedule. If helpful, journal your thoughts so that you are physically removing them from your mind and allowing them to exist elsewhere as one of your coping strategies. By taking time out of your day to stress, you can often focus better on the rest of your life.

Meditation

Meditation is one of the most effective coping strategies for anxiety. Find time each day to meditate. Doing so will help you learn to exist alongside your thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to fight or control them.

Try to Understand Your Fears

If you attend therapy for anxiety, one of the tasks you might work on is finding the root cause of your fears. While this is an important step in the healing process, it is one you can start on your own. Spend time thinking about your biggest fears and try to see where they might be coming from. Did your worry start after a certain situation or event? Maybe your fears can be connected to an unpleasant childhood memory. Knowledge is a powerful tool against fear.

Learn Your Triggers

Another helpful technique to cope with anxiety issues is identifying your triggers. This requires you to track your feelings over time and find what periods of heightened anxiety have in common. You may be surprised to find that your anxiety increases when you drive, first thing in the morning or when you are in busy places.

Understanding your triggers can help you avoid or cope with situations that cause you anxiety. However, avoidance isn't always a healthy long-term solution. Bring your triggers up to your doctor or therapist to learn how to manage your emotions when they occur.

Body

Helping the mind cope is just one part of managing anxiety. Changes in the body can contribute to anxiety too. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind:

Learning How To Cope With Anxiety Could Improve Your Life

Eat Healthy

The foundation of good health is a nutritious and healthy diet. This is no different for anxiety. Studies show that a diet low in processed foods and sugar and high in vegetables can help combat symptoms to alleviate stress. In fact, foods high in magnesium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce anxiety. Next time you're at the store, load your cart with feel-good foods like spinach, legumes, whole grains, oysters, eggs and salmon.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most popular lifestyle changes and coping strategies that doctors recommend to those experiencing anxiety as a form of relaxation techniques. Exercise helps us sleep better, manage stress and stabilizes our mood. Even a relatively low amount of exercise, such as a 10-minute walk for exercise daily, can have positive effects. Another common suggestion for physical activity is to practice yoga to ease anxiety. Yoga is a great way to stay healthy and alleviate pain from anxiety and panic attacks, as well as related disorders like depression or social phobia.

Sleep

Our bodies need sleep to function at their best. Unfortunately, anxiety and enough sleep have a complicated relationship. Sometimes, our anxious thoughts keep our minds going all night long, resulting in little, restless or even no sleep. When we experience a lack of sleep, feelings of anxiety can heighten the following day. Once this cycle starts, it's difficult to stop. If your quality of sleep is suffering, talk to your doctor about tips for good sleep hygiene.

Say No To Alcohol And Caffeine

Research suggests that some substances can increase anxiety. Two of the most commonly used culprits are alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol affects cognitive functioning making concentration and decision making harder. It also prevents you from getting a good night's rest and can lead to an anxiety cycle in everyday life. Likewise, it can cause anxiety by changing your hydration, blood sugar and serotonin levels.

Caffeine mimics the symptoms of anxiety including an increased heart rate and jitters. This leads to the production of a hormone called adrenaline in your body. The more adrenaline you have coursing through you, the more likely you are to experience symptoms.

Breathe

How you breathe when you experience anxiety is important for your mental health. Anxiety can cause a feeling of shortness of breath as one of several physical symptoms. In response, most people end up breathing too quickly or too deep to get the feeling to go away. Unfortunately, this causes a condition called hyperventilation, which only makes you feel like you're getting less oxygen. Instead, focus on breathing slowly with deep breaths while releasing tension from your body or practice belly breathing as one of your relaxation techniques.

Take Medication

There are many medications available to treat anxiety disorders and mental illness. If you're concerned about your feelings, have a serious symptom such as panic attacks, or think you might have depression or an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor. They can decide if a long-term or short-term medication is the right treatment for your mental and physical health.

Social

Anxiety can increase when we try to deal with it alone. While you are working on your mind and body, don't forget to reach out to others too. Try the following:

Talk With Someone

Talking with a friend or loved one about your feelings can help you get an outside perspective on them to help you manage anxiety and negative thoughts. Often a professional is involved to teach people how to regain control of the panic and anxiety. Sometimes, something as small as knowing you aren't going through anxiety alone is enough to help.

Volunteer

Serving others is a great way to manage anxiety. Many people report that doing so decreases their feelings of stress and worry. Look for a non-profit organization in your local area and dedicate some of your time each week.

Therapy

If you are experiencing issues with trying to control anxiety, work with a therapist by taking action with professional treatment on the anxiety affecting your health. Therapists have extensive training in helping you to relieve anxiety. Most of them can offer medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment for your health.  With online counselors like those available through BetterHelp.com, guidance and assistance are just a click away.

No one likes dealing with anxiety. Fortunately, there are many tactics you can use to cope with anxiety to improve your health. Whether you are experiencing normal periods of anxiety or suspect you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder, you do not have to suffer alone. Reach out to your doctor or a licensed counselor today!

Commonly Asked Questions Below:

What are 5 ways to cope with anxiety?
What is the fastest way to overcome anxiety?
What triggers anxiety?
How does anxiety feel like?
Is anxiety a mental illness?
What are weird symptoms of anxiety?
How do they test you for anxiety?

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