Managing anxiety can feel like an impossible task for those who experience intense symptoms regularly. Fortunately, there is a wide range of anxiety self-help books, videos and techniques available to help people manage this difficult condition. This article will examine ten ways to deal with anxiety that can help improve your quality of life if you live with anxiety.
1. Schedule worry time.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, setting up a schedule for worry time can actually be a helpful way to deal with anxiety. If you treat worry and anxiety as a normal part of your day and schedule it into a particular time frame, it can throw off the usual tendency for anxiety to be present around the clock. As anxious thoughts crop up, remind yourself to spend time worrying about that during your allotted time frame. The interesting and useful part of this technique is that instead of fighting off the anxiety, you are giving it a time limit.
2. Breathe deeply.
Deep breathing exercises for anxiety are helpful in a number of ways. Techniques such as 4-7-8 breathing and box breathing offer a structured approach to something we do automatically. During both of these breathing techniques, the mind is focused on the task of breathing in a certain way. The use of counting and visualizations helps distract the mind from the source of anxiety, which is a major benefit. In addition to the use of distraction, deep breathing often helps people to re-establish a healthy breathing rhythm, slows heart rate and assists with the appropriate intake of oxygen, all of which can be thrown off-kilter when anxiety takes over.
We often hear about the benefits of exercise for anxiety. There are many ways to use exercise as an anxiety reduction technique. Increasing your heart rate through exercise offers the benefit of increased endorphin levels in the brain, which improves feelings of well-being and reduces stress and anxiety.
4. Get plenty of sleep.
Anxiety and sleep challenges often go hand in hand. Try to make sure you are using good sleep hygiene practices such as keeping a consistent bedtime, engaging in similar routines before bed each night and avoiding sleep-interferences such as the use of blue-light emitting devices before sleep. Keep your sleeping area free of clutter and distractions and make it a space that is somewhat cooler than your normal living quarters for optimal sleep.
Disrupted sleep patterns instigate the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn creates more anxiety. By accessing healthy sleep patterns, you stand a better chance of managing anxiety symptoms successfully.
5. Limit caffeine intake.
People with chronic anxiety should try to limit their caffeine intake. Caffeine and anxiety do not interact well together. Often caffeine can overstimulate the central nervous system and initiate an anxiety attack for those who are sensitive to its effects. The increased heart rate, shakiness and general sense of stimulation that caffeine brings look remarkably similar to the initial stages of an anxiety attack. Because of this similarity, reducing caffeine consumption can help people with chronic anxiety experience fewer anxiety symptoms and flare-ups.
6. Try yoga.
Gentle exercise routines such as yoga offer a different type of relaxation that incorporates mind and body. Yoga for anxiety has been highly successful. Certain yoga poses for anxiety include Twisted Triangle and Dancer Pose, among others. The regular use of yoga offers a wide variety of health benefits, including lowered blood pressure as well as improved muscle tone and core strength. Yoga as an anxiety reduction technique has been widely used and with great success. It is a practical and simple approach to managing anxiety that can be done either individually or in group settings.
7. Give back to the community.
Volunteering to reduce anxiety may not be the most obvious option, but it can bring many benefits. The most significant way volunteering can reduce anxiety lies in the benefits of giving back. When we are focused on helping others, our attention shifts away from the distress of our own lives and we experience a sense of purpose and intent. Giving back to the community is empowering, particularly when we are contributing to a cause we are passionate about.
8. Give up control.
The struggle for control over anxiety can feel futile. The more you focus on regaining control, the more anxiety increases and takes that sense of control away. It may feel as if anxiety and control issues fuel one another. Maybe it’s time to give up control. When we surrender ourselves to the reality that we aren’t completely in control, it can offer a liberating sense of peace and acceptance.
9. Keep a daily routine.
Many people experience decreased anxiety when they have a fairly predictable routine. Keeping a daily schedule to reduce anxiety can be effective because it establishes a level of consistency that can be comforting. Anxiety responds well to routine. Some methods for keeping a consistent routine can be waking at the same time each day, working or engaging in daily activities during similar time frames, eating meals at consistent times and making time each day for quiet and serenity. Including activities such as meditation, journaling and creative outlets can be a nice way to connect with your own thoughts and feelings each day and these activities can be a regularly scheduled part of your day or week.
10. Consider talk therapy.
Nothing can take the place of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety. CBT can help you explore the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that influence your anxiety symptoms and learn alternative ways to respond. Talking to a professional counselor can offer a compassionate, objective view on your situation, which can help you reveal the underlying sources of your anxiety.
Therapy for anxiety can be solution-focused and short-term. You may find that just talking with a mental health provider about your thoughts and feelings can be helpful. Talk therapy can provide a different level of support than friends and family can offer. The confidentiality and non-judgmental relationship with a counselor creates a safe environment to identify solutions and work through anxiety in a meaningful way.
Additional Anxiety Self-Help Resources
There are hundreds of anxiety self-help books available, as well as online anxiety resources. Experts recommend titles such as “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, 6th Edition” for practical advice on identifying the source and learning coping strategies to manage anxiety. Websites like the Anxiety and Depression Association of America offer helpful advice and resources for those seeking guidance. Anxiety support groups can also be useful to establish a connection with others who deal with this condition.
Anxiety can be managed in any number of ways. Often, incorporating several methods to create a strategy for managing anxious feelings works well. If you are struggling with anxiety and have found yourself relying on substance usage to manage these feelings, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village and start on your journey toward wellness.
Fletcher, Jenna. “How to use 4-7-8 breathing for anxiety.” Medical News Today, February 11, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Gotter, Anna. “Box Breathing.” Healthline, February 22, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Dennis, Rebecca. “The Health Benefit of Deep Breathing: 9 Ways it Supercharges Your Body and Mind.” Conscious Lifestyle Magazine. Accessed June 21, 2019. Harvard Health Publishing. “Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep.” Accessed June 21, 2019. Levi, Anthea. “Why Drinking Coffee Might Be Fueling Your Anxiety.” Health.com, January 8, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Seagal, J. Ph.D, Robinson L. “Volunteering and it’s Surprising Benefits.” Helpguide.org, June 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Capetta, Amy. “These Are The Best Books For People With Anxiety, According To Psychologists.” Good Housekeeping, April 18, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019. Adaa.org. “Find Help.” Accessed June 21, 2019. Adaa.org. “ADAA Online Support Group.” Accessed June 21, 2019.
Fletcher, Jenna. “How to use 4-7-8 breathing for anxiety.” Medical News Today, February 11, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Gotter, Anna. “Box Breathing.” Healthline, February 22, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Dennis, Rebecca. “The Health Benefit of Deep Breathing: 9 Ways it Supercharges Your Body and Mind.” Conscious Lifestyle Magazine. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Harvard Health Publishing. “Tips for beating anxiety to get a better night’s sleep.” Accessed June 21, 2019.
Levi, Anthea. “Why Drinking Coffee Might Be Fueling Your Anxiety.” Health.com, January 8, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Seagal, J. Ph.D, Robinson L. “Volunteering and it’s Surprising Benefits.” Helpguide.org, June 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Capetta, Amy. “These Are The Best Books For People With Anxiety, According To Psychologists.” Good Housekeeping, April 18, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2019.
Adaa.org. “Find Help.” Accessed June 21, 2019.
Adaa.org. “ADAA Online Support Group.” Accessed June 21, 2019.