Did you know that most people deal with some form of anxiety throughout their lives?
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. For some, though, anxiety is much more than just a feeling that passes after a while. In fact, anxiety disorders impact about 19.1% of the American adult population. For these people, anxiety manifests in the form of perpetual worry, tension, and even panic attacks or avoidance of certain activities.
Fortunately, learning how to cope with anxiety is possible. Many people believe doing so enhances their lives and enables them to keep up with their responsibilities and social relationships. Check out this article to learn more about different types of anxiety, their symptoms and their causes.
Below, we’ll get into 8 key ways you can handle stress and anxiety. Keep reading so you can live your healthiest life!
1. See a Trained Therapist
Mental health therapists have the training and experience needed to help you navigate your anxiety.
When you go for your first therapy session, the counselor will have you fill out some forms and an introductory assessment. The assessment will help them measure your anxiety levels and identify any co-occurring concerns, such as depression.
Then, they’ll talk to you to get an idea of your personal situation. They’ll use evidence-based tactics to help lessen your symptoms. Your therapist may also teach you certain techniques to use when you’re out in the real world and start to experience anxiety.
You should definitely see a therapist if your symptoms are:
- Starting to interfere with your life in significant ways
- Causing you to feel hopeless, depressed, or suicidal
Still, the cost of therapy keeps many people away from seeing a counselor. Sometimes, health insurance policies cover therapy sessions. If you don’t have a healthcare policy, look for therapists who offer sliding scale options. That way, the cost of your sessions will get based on what you can afford.
Want to know more about what happens when you see a counselor? Learn about therapy in a nutshell.
2. Identify the Cause
Whether you choose to see a therapist or not, the first step to coping with anxiety well consists of identifying what causes your stress to flare up.
To do this, start being mindful of what happens when you get anxious. Ask yourself if you notice any patterns. For instance, you may notice you get anxious when your coworker asks you to take on extra work or when you’re in small, enclosed spaces.
Sometimes, anxiety is anticipatory, too. So, notice what you think about when you’re anxious about something upcoming. Ask yourself why you’re afraid of the situation.
3. Reduce Your Stressors
Once you’ve determined what triggers your anxiety, remove as many of these causes as possible.
Of course, no one has the ability to remove every stressor from their lives. You still need to go to work and face that stressful coworker, after all. But you can choose to eliminate other stressors from your life. For example, if your drive to work also causes you to become anxious, take a different route.
Even cutting out a few stressors can help you stay calmer throughout the day. Instead, replace them with some things that calm you down.
4. Manage Stressful Situations
It’s not good for you to cut out all anxiety-inducing situations, though, even if you can afford to cut them out.
In fact, research shows people who have social anxiety actually experience worse symptoms if they avoid socializing altogether. So, you need to learn how to manage stressful situations.
One way to do this is to create an exit plan. If you’re going to an event that’s causing you to become anxious, think about how you can remove yourself from the situation if you need to once you’re there. That way, you can give the event a try, but you feel more in control of your well-being.
5. Get Comfortable with “No”
Drawing boundaries is an important aspect of learning to cope with anxiety.
People often overload themselves because they don’t think it’s polite to refuse work or turn down social events. But if you know that you’re overtaxed and can’t take any more, don’t be afraid to tell the person “No.”
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and a work project needs to get done, meet with your manager and see how to best balance your priorities.
6. Stay in the Moment
Many people become anxious when they look too far into the future. So, learning to stay in the moment can help you combat anxiety.
Whenever you catch yourself thinking about the future, bring your awareness back to the present. Notice the things happening around you and how you feel. If you notice your body tense, practice progressive muscle relaxation.
7. Take Care of Your Body
Did you know that what you consume and do with your body directly impacts your anxiety levels?
Ingredients like caffeine and added sugar can cause a spike in anxiety. So, if you notice yourself feeling more anxious after your morning coffee, consider drinking decaf instead.
A lack of sleep can also cause your anxiety to run rampant. This is because sleep helps your emotional control center, the prefrontal cortex, rejuvenate. As such, you might have a weakened ability to control your emotions if you don’t get enough sleep.
Exercise, on the other hand, releases anxiety. So, while a run on the treadmill might be the last thing you want after a day at work, it might be what you need.
8. Identify What Calms You Down
Everyone has a favorite activity that helps them feel calm and relaxed. Some prefer to curl up on the couch and watch a heartwarming show, while others go out with friends or take up a creative hobby.
No matter what you love to do, identify it and do more of it. Schedule it into your week, if possible.
Ready to Cope with Anxiety?
Now that you’ve read these articles, you have more tools to cope with anxiety.
Keep in mind, though, that what works for everyone might differ a little bit. The key to learning to deal with anxiety lies in learning about yourself and how your body responds.
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