How To Cope With Anxiety Issues

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated November 19, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Coping with anxiety can be challenging. However, whether you're experiencing heightened stress or have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, several proven ways exist to cope with this symptom.

Often, coping with anxiety involves using your mind, body, and support network.
Receive Research-Backed Coping Mechanisms For Anxiety

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a sense of intense worry, nervousness, or fear. Anyone can experience anxiety throughout daily life. Although it can be uncomfortable, anxiety often has positive impacts, allowing you to pay attention to focus on a difficult task or flee a dangerous situation. It can also help individuals prevent worst-case scenarios and plan for the unknown in situations where the fear level fits the situation at hand. 

However, anxiety may not be healthy or helpful for everyone. If anxiety affects you most days, follows your thoughts in every situation, or causes physical symptoms like palpitations, nausea, or dizziness, you might be among the millions of people with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders cause marked functioning impairments in social, mental, physical, and professional duties. 

Mental Ways To Cope With Anxiety 

Anxiety often starts with the mind and your thoughts throughout the day. It may be helpful to cope with your symptoms by working with your thoughts. Below are a few tactics with which you can start.


For some people, anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown. Being unsure about the future or not knowing how a particular problem or situation will resolve itself can be stressful. If this is the case for you, it might be helpful to devise a plan for the worries 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 might have examples like 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 get the job. For each of your secondary worries, devise a solid plan of the steps you could take should one of your primary worries happen. Below is an example plan map you can use as a reference. 



You're worried you won't get hired for the job.

  • Ask the hiring manager why you've not been selected and work on any gaps in your skills.

  • Update your résumé and interview style based on feedback.

  • Apply to five more jobs.

You're worried you won't hear back from the hiring manager.

  • Call or email the hiring manager for a status update if there is no call by Friday.

You're worried about negotiating for a fair salary. 

  • Research online for salary negotiation tips.

  • Look up the ballpark salary range for the position.

  • Ask for a higher salary than needed to accept a reasonable counteroffer.

You're worried about moving your family. 

  • Ask about relocation packages.

  • Budget the costs of moving.

Accept Your Feelings

Another strategy for coping with anxiety is acceptance of your feelings. Anxiety can be unpleasant, but accepting that it's present may make it easier to manage. For this step, it might be helpful to learn about anxiety and why it affects the body the way it does. Understanding this symptom's biological and emotional processes may show you that its effects aren't as dangerous as they can seem. Meditation and therapy can also be helpful tools for practicing acceptance.


Dedicate Time To Worry

Some may cope with anxiety better when they know they have a specific time dedicated to worry. Set a timer each day and find a place to be alone. During your worry time, give yourself the freedom to worry about any topic. 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 to offer a physical representation of removing them from your mind and allowing them to exist elsewhere as one of your coping strategies. Studies show that expressive writing, like journaling, can significantly improve mental and physical health

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been proven to be one of the most effective coping strategies for anxiety. Find time each day to focus on your present moment. Doing so may help you learn to exist alongside your thoughts and feelings rather than trying to ignore them. It may also help you grow an appreciation for your environment and body. 

Try To Understand Your Fears

If you attend therapy for anxiety, you might work on finding the root cause of your fears. While this step in the healing process can be beneficial, it is one you can start on your own. Think about your biggest fears and consider where they might have originated. Did your worry start after a particular situation or event? Maybe your fears can be connected to an unpleasant childhood memory. Knowledge can be a tool against fear. 

Learn What Incites Your Anxiety 

Another helpful technique for coping with anxiety is identifying inciting events, which can require tracking your feelings over time and discovering what periods of heightened anxiety have in common. You might notice that your anxiety increases when you drive, in the morning, or in busy places.

Understanding what incites your anxiety can help you avoid or cope with situations that cause you anxiety. However, avoidance may not be a healthy long-term solution. Bring these events up to a therapist to learn how to manage your emotions when they occur.

Receive Research-Backed Coping Mechanisms For Anxiety

Anxiety Coping Mechanisms For The Body 

Coping with mental challenges can be one part of anxiety. However, changes in the body can contribute to anxiety, too. Below are a few physical tips for reducing anxiety levels. 

Eat Healthfully

Research shows that a diet low in processed foods and sugar and high in vegetables can combat symptoms to alleviate stress. 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.


One of the most popular lifestyle changes and coping strategies doctors recommend to those experiencing anxiety is exercise. Exercise can improve sleep, reduce stress, and stabilize mood, including a relatively low amount of exercise, such as a ten-minute walk. Another common suggestion for physical activity is to practice yoga to ease anxiety. Yoga is a way to stay healthy and alleviate pain from anxiety, panic attacks, and related challenges like depression or social phobia.


Your body needs sleep to function optimally. However, anxiety and sleep often have a complicated relationship. Some people may experience anxious thoughts that keep their minds active throughout the night, resulting in restlessness or sleep deprivation. When you experience a lack of sleep, anxiety may be heightened the following day. If your sleep quality is low, talk to your doctor about tips for sleep hygiene.

Say No To Alcohol And Caffeine

Research suggests that some substances can increase anxiety. Two of the most used are alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol affects cognitive functioning, making concentration and decision-making harder. It also prevents you from getting 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 anxiety symptoms, including an increased heart rate and jitters. These symptoms lead to the production of the adrenaline hormone in your body. The more adrenaline you have in your blood, the more likely you may experience these distressing physical symptoms. 


How you breathe when you experience anxiety can impact your mental health. Anxiety can cause shortness of breath as one of several physical symptoms. In response, some people breathe too quickly or deeply to try to breathe better. However, doing so can cause hyperventilation, which provides less oxygen to the brain. Instead of hyperventilating, focus on breathing slowly with deep breaths while releasing tension. One way to do so is by practicing belly breathing or following along with a guided breathing app. 

Take Medication

Medications are available to treat anxiety disorders and mental illness. Talk to your primary care physician if you are living with severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder, have severe panic attacks, or believe you might benefit from medical intervention. They can help you decide whether long-term or short-term medication is the proper treatment for your mental and physical health. Consult with your doctor before starting, changing, or stopping any medication. 

Social Coping Mechanisms For Anxiety 

Anxiety can increase when you try to cope with it alone. While working on your mind and body, don't forget to reach out to others. Below are a few coping skills you can try. 

Talk To Someone

Talking with a friend or loved one about your feelings may allow you an outside perspective to help you manage anxiety and negative thoughts. Knowing you're not alone and that people care about your mental health may reduce some of your fears. 


Serving others can be a way to manage anxiety. Look for a non-profit organization in your local area and dedicate time each week to a cause that you are passionate about. As you help others, you may notice that you're also helping yourself. 

Talk To A Therapist 

If you struggle to control anxiety, including professional treatment may be helpful. Therapists have extensive training in anxiety relief and mental health. There are multiple ways to see a therapist, and some may find that online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp is more convenient. 

When you sign up with an online platform, you can be matched with a professional, qualified therapist, often within 48 hours. You can attend sessions from home and choose between phone, video, or chat session formats. In addition, sessions may be more cost-effective than in-person therapy.  

Studies also back up the effectiveness of internet-based interventions. One review of 14 studies found that people participating in online therapy had a 50% improvement in symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and depression.  


Anxiety can be a challenging issue with which to cope. However, there are many tactics you can use to effectively address these symptoms and improve your mental and physical health. Whether you are experiencing regular periods of anxiety or suspect you might be living with an anxiety disorder, you're not alone. Talking to a licensed therapist online or in your area is another way to receive support.

BetterHelp Therapist Reviews

"Sharon Valentino has helped me through so much! Since we started working together, just a few months ago, I already feel like I have more power and control over my life. I have let go of some very painful things, I have moved away from abusive relationships and gained the skills and tools I need to keep myself safe and happy. She has taught me that I have the power to control my thoughts, my anxiety, and most of all my company. I like how direct she is, it helps me get grounded and connect to myself. I can't wait to see where I am after working with her for a year!!!"

"Blaire has been amazing. She's super supportive, empathetic, and kind. She has helped me gain confidence in myself and learn that it is okay to enforce healthy boundaries in my relationships."

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started