10 Tips To Gain Control Over Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated February 26, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Experiencing nervousness is a common part of life. While nervous feelings about an upcoming presentation or event are normal, it’s important to address these feelings when they become persistent and start to interfere with your daily routine. Persistent nervousness could become anxiety, which can cloud your judgment, influence your decisions, and hinder your overall well-being. By learning the tools to gain control over your anxiety, you can significantly improve your quality of life and confidence going into many everyday experiences.

This article is designed to provide you with practical and actionable steps to help manage anxiety. We will explore 10 proven strategies that encompass both physical and mental health aspects. These tips aim to empower you, equipping you with the tools you need to navigate through your anxiety.

Understanding anxiety

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Gain control over your anxiety

Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger, often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. However, when these feelings are persistent or intense, they may signify an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and more.

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include excessive worrying, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, and physical symptoms like rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, and headaches. Understanding these symptoms is the first step toward recognizing and addressing your anxiety.

Anxiety disorders can stem from a combination of factors, including genetics, personality, life events, and brain chemistry. It’s important to remember that experiencing anxiety does not indicate weakness or a character flaw. It’s a real and often treatable condition. If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide a thorough evaluation and guide you toward appropriate treatment options. 

10 tips to gain control over anxiety 

The tips in the following sections are not a replacement for professional treatment, but they can serve as helpful tools in your overall anxiety management strategy.

1. Practicing mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness is a mental state where you focus your awareness on the present moment. By doing so, you can acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgment. Research shows that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety symptoms and improve emotional well-being.

Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference. Begin by finding a quiet space, focusing on your breath, and gently bringing your mind back whenever it wanders.

2. Regular physical activity

Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters, and can also serve as a healthy distraction from worrying thoughts. Try to incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine, whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a bike ride.

3. Healthy eating habits

What you eat can also impact your anxiety levels. Eating a balanced diet can stabilize your energy levels and mood throughout the day. Try to incorporate foods rich in magnesium (like leafy greens and legumes), zinc (such as oysters and cashews), and omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon and chia seeds), which have been linked to reduced anxiety.

4. Adequate sleep

Sleep and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship. This means that poor sleep can increase anxiety levels, and high anxiety can make it hard to sleep. To improve your sleep hygiene, maintain a consistent sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and make your sleep environment comfortable and free of distractions.

5. Reducing caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can both exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Caffeine can interfere with sleep and increase feelings of jitteriness, while alcohol can affect the balance of chemicals in your brain and disrupt your sleep pattern. Try to limit your consumption of these substances or find healthier alternatives.

6. Deep breathing and relaxation techniques

Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can activate your body’s natural relaxation response, leading to reduced tension and feelings of anxiety. 

One simple method is box breathing: breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale slowly for a count of 4, and wait for a count of 4 before inhaling again. Repeat this pattern until you start feeling calmer.

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7. Positive affirmations and self-talk

The language we use with ourselves can significantly impact how we feel and respond to situations. Positive affirmations and self-talk can help shift your mindset, reducing anxiety and increasing feelings of self-worth. Practice repeating positive affirmations like, “I am capable,” “I can handle this,” or “I am stronger than my anxiety,” especially in moments of heightened stress.

8. Setting realistic goals and priorities

Having a lot on your plate can provoke anxiety. It’s important to set realistic goals and prioritize tasks to avoid overwhelming yourself. Practice breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable parts and schedule your time accordingly. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they might seem.

9. Connecting with others

Building strong social connections can be a powerful antidote to anxiety. Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people who can offer help when needed. Don’t hesitate to discuss your feelings with trusted friends or family. Sometimes, just verbalizing what you’re going through can provide significant relief.

10. Professional help

Despite your best efforts, if anxiety continues to interfere with your life, it’s important to seek professional help. Therapists and psychologists can offer strategies tailored specifically to your situation. If necessary, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a step towards reclaiming control over your life.

Benefits of online therapy in managing anxiety

Online therapy has emerged as a convenient, and highly effective means of managing anxiety. In the context of anxiety disorders, online therapy can provide several unique benefits. For one, online therapy sessions can be attended from the comfort of your own home or any location that suits you. This can be especially useful for individuals who may feel anxious about going to a therapist’s office or who live in remote areas with limited sources of mental health services.

Online platforms typically offer flexible scheduling options, making it easier to fit therapy into your busy schedule. Some platforms also offer text, email, or instant messaging therapy, which can be less intimidating and more comfortable for some people. For those who feel a stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment, online therapy can provide a level of unknownness that helps mitigate such concerns.

Efficacy of online therapy in managing anxiety

The effectiveness of online therapy in managing anxiety has been backed by numerous studies, finding online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy for major psychiatric disorders, including anxiety. Other research has found that the effects of online therapy can be sustained in the long term.

Online therapy allows for the use of various therapeutic techniques, including CBT, mindfulness-based therapy, and other evidence-based approaches that have been proven effective for anxiety management. Online CBT, in particular, has been widely studied and consistently found to be effective. It involves teaching individuals to identify negative thought patterns and develop healthier, more positive ways of thinking.

In addition to this, the interactive nature of online therapy, including multimedia presentations, video sessions, and interactive assignments, can enhance understanding and engagement with therapeutic content.

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Gain control over your anxiety

Takeaway

Many people experience anxiety at one point or another in their lives, and it is usually nothing to worry about. However, persistent or intense feelings of anxiety can significantly detract from your everyday life, and learning how to reduce and manage these feelings can help improve your mental and physical health. Strategies like physical exercise, mindfulness, positive affirmations, healthy eating and sleep, and more can make a big impact on anxious feelings.

In addition to healthy living and mindfulness techniques, working with a professional can be a key step in reducing anxiety in the long term. Online therapy provides many benefits including increased affordability, consistent scheduling during travel, and flexibility. To work with an online therapist, sign up with BetterHelp to be matched with a professional in as little as 48 hours.

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.
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