25 Strategies In Anxiety Management
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million adults experience anxiety in the U.S. alone. Anxiety and its associated symptoms (i.e., leg shaking, excessive nervousness, and panic attacks) can greatly impede a person’s quality of life. Learning to cope with anxiety is an effective strategy in beginning the journey towards improving its symptoms and learning self-management methods. You may be dealing anxiety regularly. If so, this article will introduce you to new learning strategies that help you cope healthily and explain the benefits of therapy.
Anxiety Management Strategies
In her book Generation Me, Dr. Jean Twenge, author, speaker, and professor of psychology, states three theories as to the major reasons for the rise in anxiety disorders in America:
Poor community ties and poor social skills, or a fear of being rejected.
Individuals being more self-centered and focused on money, fame, and image; and
High expectations from oneself (and a fear of not meeting those expectations) lead to anxiety disorders and depression.
Thus, the more we advance technologically, the more we tend to degrade socially. Humans are social beings, and when the overuse of technology stunts the social side of our development, it causes less social interaction and overindulgence. It also contributes to our underlying fear of rejection. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), this may lead to the development of several disorders in the human psyche.
However, because of research and studies, people are becoming more aware of their situations and are again leaning on natural treatments and professional therapy. Learning how to deal with anxiety can involve a combination of approaches, and below is a list of 25 proven natural strategies that will help you in dealing with anxiety symptoms:
The first thing you do when you wake up sets the tone for your entire day. The first things we do when we wake up are checking our emails on our phone/laptop or switching on the TV. By doing this, we are causing external stimuli to dictate our behavior. This act initiates a certain level of anxiety to develop in our psyche at the very beginning of the day.
To break this cycle of anxiety and stress, researchers recommend that you start your day with meditation. Meditation helps you generate a sense of positivity and calmness as you prepare mentally for the day's challenges.
2. Wake Up Early
Morning hours can be stressful. A lot of multitasking happens at this hour, where people juggle getting ready for work, sending their children to school, and preparing breakfast. As mentioned earlier, setting the right tone at the very beginning of the day greatly helps reduce anxiety. Trying to get a lot of things done at the last minute in the morning can be extremely stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.
To prevent this from happening, prepare for the next day by getting things ready the previous night. Small things, like selecting your clothes for the next day or preparing lunch and breakfast menu options, can greatly help reduce your anxiety.
Research also states that waking up early will give you some time for yourself and help you prepare for the day. Enjoying some peace will greatly help you .
Apart from meditating, spending a few minutes in prayer is a great way to combat anxiety, according to studies. Negative thoughts generate a lot of stress, which, in turn, cause a lot of anxiety. The fear and worry leading up to an event, like an exam, meeting, or presentation, can cause you to feel anxious. Prayer helps dispel all these negative thoughts and fear and creates a sense of optimism. Mentally surrendering your thoughts, fear, and actions gives you the confidence and assurance that your day will go well; thus, this causes your anxieties to decrease.
4. Eating Breakfast
It is not uncommon for people to forego breakfast as they rush out the door in the morning. He states that low levels of the food compound choline led to increased levels of anxiety in individuals. To overcome this deficiency, he recommends eating eggs, which are a source of choline.
According to studies, listening to music is a great way to calm yourself and reduce anxiety and fear. Listening to the music of your choice not only relaxes you but also helps you remove your focus from the source of anxiety. According to a Utah Pain Research Center study, music therapy helped people cope with their troubles and greatly helped reduce their body pain.
Studies state that smelling certain scents has a calming effect on our bodies. Lavender, according to research, has been found to reduce anxiety. Also, lighting scented candles or placing sweet-smelling lavender flowers in your house can be a great way to reduce anxiety and promote calmness.
Spending time with people you love and whose company you enjoy has been found in studies to . Going out for coffee, eating dinner together, scheduling a video-conference call, or visiting an old friend are great ways to reduce anxiety. This study also states that maintaining meaningful relationships is essential to cognitive sharpness and brain development.
People who maintain relationships and engage in social conversation were sharper and tended to remain healthy and happier. Engaging in social conversation tends to greatly reduce stress and fear levels, causing recovery from anxiety and depression.
8. Laughter Therapy
"I have not seen anyone dying of laughter, but I know millions who are dying because they are not laughing," said Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. Enjoying a good laugh with your friends, children, and relatives can be very therapeutic.
Laughter has been associated with many health benefits, including improved sleep and anxiety symptoms. Laughing reduces stress hormones, establishes feelings of well-being, lowers blood pressure, brings about pain relief, and improves cardiac health. Watching comedic movies or television shows or being part of a laughter therapy group are other ways to add humor to your day.
9. Avoiding Caffeine
Reducing your caffeine intake per day can greatly help reduce anxiety symptoms, as is a psychoactive drug that is intricately linked with mental disorders. Caffeine is not just present in coffee but in sodas, chocolate, and tea. So, watch what you are eating and drinking.
10. Reframe Your Thinking
According to this study published by the Japanese Psychological Association, fear and negative thinking is a major factor contributing to anxiety disorder. Chronic worry about things happening or not happening causes an individual to experience major stress and fear. The only remedy to this problem is to alter your thought pattern. Thoughts greatly affect one's behavior. Changing your thought process from negative to positive is a proven way to reduce anxiety. Changing the negative thought immediately as soon as it pops into your mind is essential in reducing anxiety.
Here are some examples of rephrasing your thinking:
If a student thinks, "I will fail my exam," and they are engrossed in worry, they could try to rephrase it to the following: "I will not fail my exam because I have studied and have prepared well. The exam is going to be easy, and I am going to pass with flying colors."
If someone thinks, "Something is going to happen to me, and I am going to die," they could rephrase it with, "Today is a beautiful day. I am blessed to be alive and surrounded by family and friends. Nothing bad is going to happen Today. Something good is in store for me."
11. Avoid Overscheduling
Having too many things to do can also cause anxious thoughts and behavior. Taking responsibility for a lot of things can make you feel tired and anxious. If you already have a lot on your plate, making extra commitments can lead you to feel overwhelmed, cranky, and jittery. To combat overscheduling, try prioritizing your schedule. If certain work can be delegated, then do not be hesitate to ask for help. Getting help reduces your workload while bringing in social support.
12. Deep Breathing
Taking deep breaths to calm yourself is a great way to decrease anxious thoughts. Taking a deep breath not only calms you down but gives you time to reason and challenge a negative thought. Taking a deep breath slows down your heart rate while the oxygen invigorates your system mentally and physically to make an informed decision. Furthermore, it provides immediate calming throughout your body. For example, a recent research study measured the effects of breathing on anxiety. Participant s stated they felt a relief in negative emotions when they were instructed to sigh or take a deep breath.
Exercising for 30 minutes per day significantly helps to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to studies, when we exercise, our bodies produce increased quantities of norepinephrine, a chemical that moderates the brain's response to stress. Regular exercise has also been associated with increased feelings of happiness and induced sense of calm.
Visualization is another relaxing technique. Thoughts greatly influence your actions; therefore, your thoughts should be optimistic. The visualization technique teaches you to use your imagination to reframe your thoughts into relaxing and calming scenarios. Imagining yourself in a safe and serene place greatly helps reduce your level of anxiety.
For example, when you have anxious thoughts, replace them with visions of being on a beach, with the warm sand trickling down your feet, water splashing around you, and the tropical air blowing across your face.
Practicing yoga is a relaxing way to combat anxious thoughts and behavior. Yoga is a mind-body practice that uses a combination of exercises like breathing exercises, physical body poses, and relaxation techniques. These combinations of mind and body techniques ensure a complete physical and mental workout, thus, greatly reducing stress, blood pressure, and heart rate.
16. Hot Water Therapy
A hot water bath is not only soothing for the body but greatly refreshes the mind, too. Adding essential oils like lavender and vanilla to your bath water can also be very calming. Studies state that adding Epsom salt to your baths can also help relax you. The magnesium sulfate in the salts has been found to greatly mild symptoms of anxiety and depression.
17. Sunlight Exposure
Exposing yourself to sunlight even for 15 minutes a day can cause your body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a major role in combating feelings of anxiety and depression. If you live in areas with little or less sunlight, try getting a lightbox and exposing yourself to its light for a few minutes each day.
18. Chamomile Tea
According to this study published in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports, drinking three cups of chamomile tea per day, has greatly helped in reducing levels of anxiety. The study states that chamomile contains apigenin and luteolin, natural chemical compounds that help reduce symptoms of anxiety. If you are a tea lover, go to the supermarket, purchase some chamomile tea, and start enjoying its calming benefits.
Eating a diet that includes whole foods rich in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants is extremely beneficial to the human body. For example, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, fish, flax seeds, and other food items (including spinach, turmeric, milk, blueberries, avocado, asparagus, and almonds) are considered "brain food”. As the name implies, these foods promote brain development, safeguard against neurodegeneration, and help fight anxiety and depression.
Getting an appropriate amount (between seven to nine hours) of uninterrupted sleep can be rejuvenating and therapeutic for your body. Proper sleep is healing for many of our mental ailments. Most of the healing process takes place when the human body is sleeping and at rest. Interrupted sleep slows the repairing process in our body, causing us to feel tired and on edge. Avoiding screen time and stimulants like caffeine before bedtime is the best way to ensure a good night's sleep.
A cluttered and messy house, workplace, etc. has also been found to . A cluttered place bombards our minds with external stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime, leading the mind to be distracted and feel overloaded. This causes feelings of stress and negativity. Organizing and decluttering your space and letting go of things you do not need can be redeeming and therapeutic.
22. Take A Break
Take a break from your regular schedule and go on a vacation Spending too much time at work and being stressed out can increase anxiety and depression levels. Taking a vacation helps you shift your focus from all that stress to something enjoyable. It has been found that returning to work after a vacation greatly improves your performance and creativity.
A recent article published online by the American Psychological Association reported that spending time in nature improves your mental health while sharpening your cognition. Being outdoors helps you shift your focus from your anxious thoughts to the scenic nature. Additionally, you can breathe in the fresh air and are exposed to sunlight, thus increasing oxygen and absorbing the mood-lifting Vitamin D. All these factors contribute to both a healthy body and a healthy mind.
24. Take A Break From Social Media
A recent study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking looked at the effects of social media on the mental health of its participants. In the study, the participants were asked to take a one week break from all social media. When the study was completed, researched reported that there were significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and well-being in those that completed the break. If you are managing depressive or anxious symptoms, try taking from social media. You may feel better staying from these influences.
Practicing these suggestions will help you manage your symptoms in a way tailored to you and your personality. If you find that you are unable to manage your symptoms using these strategies or your anxiety is making your life increasingly difficult to manage – make an appointment with a therapist as soon as possible.
Expressing negativity and anxious thoughts are important. You can do this by either talking with a friend, family, or counselor. You can also express yourself through writing in a journal or an art piece. Suppressing negative thoughts can greatly affect your health and can manifest itself in psychosomatic or other mental disorders. Finding a healthy outlet, such as a licensed therapist, to work through anxiety and negative thought patterns will help lift the burden from carrying stress alone. Seeking help in the form of therapy helps you receive an experienced outlook from a non-biased viewpoint and can give you the help you need, depending on the severity of your condition.
If you are too busy to schedule an appointment with a psychologist or therapist in-person, know there are online options that can help you manage anxiety and other mental health challenges. Online therapy is a beneficial and convenient alternative to in-person therapy for several reasons. For example, in a recent study published in Technology in Mental Health, therapists reports that they were able to reach a diverse population of clients who appreciated the convenience and therapeutic alliance that was developed during counseling sessions. Online therapist at BetterHelp.com are available at your convenience to talk about your anxiety, fear, depression, and more.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
How do you calm down anxiety?
To manage anxiety and help calm your anxious feelings, there are several different relaxation techniques you can employ. One of the easiest and most effective of these coping strategies is deep breathing exercises. Taking deep, intentional breaths when you are experiencing anxiety can help lower your heart rate, decrease your respiration rate, and bring down your overall body temperature. Other physical symptoms of anxiety include tense muscles and headaches. All these physical symptoms are reactions to the fight-or-flight response that causes anxiety, and when you ease these symptoms in your body, your brain is also triggered to ease anxiety.
Another more long-lasting measure for coping with anxiety in the present and preventing anxiety in the future is healthy lifestyle changes. Research shows that getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can all help relieve anxiety and improve your overall mental health, too.
Sleep helps your brain process stressors that you face in your everyday life. It helps your body and mind stay healthy, and it puts you in a better position to respond to anxious or fearful thoughts. Instead of reacting with a foggy mindset, a nervous system that gets enough sleep will respond with more control and in a more thoughtful way to anxiety.
Keeping a healthy diet is also an important way to ease anxiety in your daily life. Research by John Hopkins Medicine shows that people with anxiety who maintained healthy eating habits were less impacted by the symptoms of anxiety. They also showed better response to other treatments for their anxiety, such as talk therapy and/or medication. The healthy diet was one of several lifestyle changes that helped them on their path to recovery.
Getting plenty of exercise is another great way to calm down anxiety. Exercise can benefit you in both the short term and the long term. It can help you in the moment, because moving your body with specific goals in mind can help you feel in control of the moment. It can give you an immediate boost in self-efficacy, which is necessary for most people to effectively apply coping strategies. You can practice yoga, play a sport, or even just go for a stroll in nature. Getting exercise every day will help you stay healthy while also helping to relieve stress.
Talking to a mental health provider about your anxiety is another great way to overcome feelings of anxiety. A mental health provider can provide treatment in the form of therapy. This therapy can teach people about different stress management techniques and relaxation techniques that can help them manage their fear and anxiety. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends talk therapy as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety disorders. Most people make huge strides in overcoming their fear and anxiety thanks to talk therapy.
If you are not ready to sit down with a mental health provider one-on-one, then you might try group activities designed to combat fear and anxiety. These group activities are overseen by a mental health provider, and the goal is to practice stress management and relaxation techniques with a group of committed people.
Finally, medication is a way to treat an anxiety disorder. Remember, only a doctor can prescribe medication for anxiety, so you will need to talk to a medical professional before pursuing this route.
What triggers anxiety?
Different people with anxiety will experience different triggers. For some people with anxiety, the triggers are usually external. This means that their anxiety stems from a risk factor or experience that happens outside of themselves. Some examples could include:
Changes at work, such as a new job or loss of a job
Lack of friends or support during a specific season in life
Changes in friends, such as changing schools or moving to a new place
Abuse (verbal, sexual, physical, and/or emotional)
Relationship problems (with friends, family, and/or a romantic partner)
Emotional shock, often following a traumatic event in life
Pregnancy, giving birth, and/or transition into parenthood
Death or loss of a loved one
For most people with anxiety, these life situations can make existing fear and anxiety worse, to the point that the stress and anxiety start to interfere with the other aspects of their lives.
Other people with anxiety are triggered by internal factors, including racing thoughts or constantly envisioning the worst-case scenario. In these cases, their anxiety looks much more like generalized anxiety disorder.
What is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety?
The 3-3-3 rule can be used to calm anxiety and prevent the onset of panic attacks. When you start to sense anxious feelings, you should first name three things that you can see. Then, find and name three different sounds that you hear. Finally, move three different parts of your body, and pay careful attention to how moving them feels.
This 3-3-3 rule can help bring you back to the present moment and make you aware of where you are and how you’re doing. It’s an effective way to manage anxiety and its physical symptoms.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
Feeling anxious or experiencing feelings of anxiety in general is not a mental illness; that’s just part of life as a human being. However, when these feelings of anxiety last for a long time without respite, this can be a clear signal of an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a mental illness. The Diagnosis and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) defines a generalized anxiety disorder with the following criteria:
The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs often for at least six months and is clearly excessive.
The worry is experienced as very challenging to control. The worry in both adults and children may easily shift from one topic to another.
The anxiety and worry are accompanied by at least three of the following physical or cognitive symptoms (In children, only one of these symptoms is necessary for a diagnosis of GAD):
Edginess or restlessness
Tiring easily; more fatigued than usual
Impaired concentration or feeling as though the mind goes blank
Irritability (which may or may not be observable to others)
Increased muscle aches or soreness
Difficulty sleeping (due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness at night, or unsatisfying sleep)
Another clear symptom of an anxiety disorder is a panic attack. A panic attack – sometimes called an anxiety attack – is an episode that a person experiences when their body loses control and reacts sharply, quickly, and extremely to the worries and tension that trigger their anxiety with the standard panic symptoms. When a person exhibits panic symptoms, their breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and their muscles tense up tightly. They usually experience a high heart rate and sometimes heart palpitations. They are often unable to speak during the panic attack. In extreme cases, a panic attack can look like a heart attack or other serious medical emergency.
Of course, only a mental health provider can offer medical advice diagnosis and treatment for an anxiety disorder. If you or a loved one is experiencing some or all the symptoms of this mental health issue, reach out to a mental health provider for help.
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