5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety
For many people, anxiety is more than just a feeling of uncomfortable worry that hits every once in and awhile. It's a state of mind that keeps people up at night, torturing them endlessly and affecting every part of their life.
Anxiety isn't this way for everyone. Anxiety, as it affects everyone, is a physical response meant to tell you that something is wrong and needs immediate action. Unfortunately, without outside intervention, it can be hard to manage the physical and mental discomfort that anxiety brings. The following are five tips to help those suffering from stress and anxiety cope and gain insight into their psyche.
1. Challenge Anxious Thoughts
Those who experience anxiety have to deal with a lot of irrational and negative thoughts. You may assume that the worst will happen, and you'll convince yourself that your worry is based on reality. It may have become a habit to believe in the worst-case scenario, and any positive result may feel foreign to you.
To fight these thoughts, you must actively think of them. Challenge them when they pop into your head. This will break your usual pattern of negative thinking. Ask yourself: Is this fear really based in reality? Is there a more realistic outcome to this event? If there is any positive outcome that may come from a situation, then will yourself to believe that that's the one that's going to happen.
2. Recognize Your Negative Thinking Patterns
It can be hard to challenge your negative thoughts if you can't recognize what they are when they occur. Remember, things are never just right or wrong, black or white, or should or shouldn't. There are shades of grey for every situation. Your anxiety will try to amplify the negatives and diminish the positives, but it's up to you to realize that an unfavorable outcome isn't the worst thing to happen.
Try to recognize when you feel like the worst is about to happen. Challenge that notion and tell yourself that you can get through it successfully. No matter if your fear is being judged, criticized, or humiliated, you are capable of rising to the occasion and conquering that fear.
3. Cultivate An Optimistic Outlook
Anxiety transforms your way of thinking to only focus on the small situations at hand. Thinking optimistically works the same way. To change your thought process, take those small, specific moments that cause you stress and focus on all of the good things that will come from it.
When you assess situations on their own, you realize how small they are in the greater scheme of life. This instance of stress, fear, or worry does not control your life because your life is bigger than any of these small instances will ever be. Focusing allows you to create a thinking strategy that will help you better plan stressful encounters. It transforms that helpless feeling you experience into something you have control over. It allows you to assess those situations that feel endless as changeable and temporary.
Start by taking baby steps. These will lead you to find constructive solutions instead of leaving you stuck, overwhelmed, and defeated.
4. Take Time for Yourself
Your brain needs a break every once in a while. When you deal with anxiety regularly, you need an outlet that gives you a mental escape. Reading, a walk in nature, and mindful meditation all allow your mind to wander without worry.
Leisure and relaxation are key to achieving a life that is full and balanced. This mental vacation shouldn't be one that you only take once a year or every few months. To fully benefit from a mental break, you have to work these activities into your weekly schedule.
This can be foreign to those who have busy work schedules. However, even just a small bit of time listening to music or doing yoga can take you out of your head. It will stop the incessant worrying you feel and help you improve your overall well-being. Another way to reduce stress in your life is by making sure you're living a healthy lifestyle. Eat well, exercise daily, get enough sleep, and do whatever else you need to feel healthy. When you feel healthy, you are healthy, and it makes achieving mental peace so much easier.
5. Create An Anti-Anxiety Toolbox
The best way to deal with anxiety when you aren't going to therapy or taking needed medication is to use tools from the therapeutic toolbox. These tools are simple and easy to access when you find yourself in a stressful situation.
- Ask questions. When you find yourself in a situation that suddenly triggers your anxiety, have set questions prepared to help you through it. Ask yourself things like: Am I blowing this out of proportion? How much anxiety is this actually causing me? Can I control it? Is this a realistic response to the situation at hand? Have the worst-case scenarios ever actually come to pass? Something has gone wrong; am I capable of finding a healthy solution? Do your best to come up with questions that help you craft a better outcome or reality than you expect. Use your past successful experiences as a guide through these questions.
- Take action. If you find yourself becoming anxious, take action immediately. Do your meditation, go for a walk, or call a supportive friend. There's an endless list of things you can do to instantly lessen that feeling of anxiety. Simply writing in a journal, listening to music, or using positive affirmations can drastically change your mood and reduce your stress levels. When choosing which activity to put into your toolbox, think back on what has calmed you in the past. What has given you a sense of control? What grounds you?
- Control physical responses. When physical symptoms of your anxiety manifest, how do you handle them? These physical symptoms usually appear as an increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, tingling in your feet or hands, and numbness. While these responses may seem out of your control, you can use various techniques to calm them. If you experience a physical response to anxiety, then find relaxation techniques that work for you. Try breathwork and meditation on your own or with someone experienced. Practicing these things will help you immensely when you come face-to-face with an anxiety-inducing situation.
Control Anxiety, Don't Let It Control You
Anxiety can be debilitating, but it's completely within your power to take control and ensure that it doesn't negatively affect your life. These techniques will help you relieve your anxiety. But, if it persists or you're unsatisfied with the results, contact an experienced professional to help you through your problems.