Hi there Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional mental health advice. Please seek help from a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling.
We’ve all experienced some type of anxiety at one point or another. Perhaps you’ve had a big exam come up with little time to prepare, or maybe someone you love was ill and you worried for their livelihood. There are countless scenarios to be worried about that come up from time to time. But what if these feelings happen frequently? What if it happens out of nowhere? To take a closer look at anxiety and how to manage it, in this article, we’ll be looking at eight ways to overcome anxiety.
But First, What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that everyone will feel from time to time. The characteristic “butterfly” feeling in your stomach, the rapid heart rate, and heavy breathing is your body’s defense mechanism known as the fight or flight response. While this is meant to protect you from danger, it can be overactive or respond to nothing at all; sometimes you can overthink situations that aren’t serious and turn it into something that is. When excessive feelings of anxiety effect your daily life, it may be what’s known as an anxiety disorder. These feelings are quite unpleasant and can interfere with your functioning. Interested in learning more about anxiety? We have a whole archive about it!
1. Talk With Someone
Sometimes, you need to let your feelings out. Having someone, like a friend or loved one to vent to, can feel like a breath of fresh air. Having a discussion about your worries can help you rationalize your thoughts and gain input from others. Additionally, you can talk with an online counselor if you’re uncomfortable talking to people you know (Mind 2017).
2. Get Some Exercise
Being in great physical health is important when dealing with anxiety, however, exercise serves another purpose. Not only does it help take your mind off what you’re worrying about, but it also produces endorphins which help relieve stress. Your physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous either; a simple activity, such as taking a short walk, have proven benefits. The physical movement can help calm the fight or flight response, making you feel more at peace. People who frequently exercise generally feel happier and less anxious than those who don’t (ADAA 2020).
3. Question Your Thoughts
A lot of anxious thoughts are irrational. A good way to combat them is to ask yourself why you feel a certain way about something. Perhaps do it from someone else’s perspective – as if you were listening to a friend tell you the same things. Doing this will help you work through your thought process and weed out what makes sense and what doesn’t (Mind 2017). When you find yourself overthinking, ask yourself: is this that serious? Am I going to allow this to dictate my mood for the rest of the day? Is this benefiting my life thinking this way? Will this matter in 5 years?
Journaling is another great way to keep track of your thoughts. You can jot down what’s going on in your life and how you feel about them. Going back to questioning your thoughts, you can write down responses to your negative thoughts. When you look back on your writing, see if you notice any patterns (Mind 2017). Where do you think your anxiety comes from? Are there any events that seem to trigger it?
5. Distract Yourself
Having ways to shift your focus off of your anxiety can be especially helpful. Reading a book, watching a movie, or taking a walk are great activities that allow you to focus on something else. Similarly, you could also get involved in other pastimes like yoga or meditation. Not only do these provide a sense of distraction, but they also have physical benefits as well (Brotheridge 2018).
6. Perform Breathing Exercises
Generally, the first piece of advice someone will give to another with anxiety is to take deep breaths. This is because the activity grounds you and restores your balance. Taking long and deep breaths for several seconds each calms the fight or flight reaction, bringing you to a more peaceful state. This tactic has been especially helpful when dealing with an anxiety attack (Young 2020).
7. Figure Out the Problem
This might sound easier said than done, but there are ways to go about this. Finding out what is bothering you can be especially helpful when dealing with anxiety as you’ll be able to confront it at its source. Talking out your issues, writing them down, and taking time for self-reflection are great ways to take a deeper look within yourself. What are some recurring themes in your worries? When do they usually start? What might cause them? Doing this may take a lot of work, but can make your life easier. This is also where talking with a qualified professional is important. Once you have an idea on where the anxiety is coming from, you can then look into making changes (Star 2020).
8. Make Changes
A great way to help manage anxiety is to make changes in your life. If you can identify what’s causing your stress, you can better find ways to change it. For instance, looking for a better job to replace your current stressful one. Similarly, you can change up your routine with hobbies, exercise, or simply time to relax. If your anxiety is especially powerful and it gets in the way of living a happy life, it may be time to get in touch with a mental health professional and figure out treatment plans (Star 2020).
9. Try A Grounding Technique
Grounding is a technique used to help calm you down when you’re experiencing anxiety. It helps pull you from your thoughts and bring you back into the real world. The technique usually involves tuning into your senses and looking at the world around you. Acts such as resting your hands in cold water, taking a walk, deep breathing, etc. can help you feel more present. A comprehensive list of various techniques can be found here.
Anxiety is quite an unpleasant feeling that comes up from time to time. Sometimes, however, it persists even when there is no real threat. Being able to manage these uncomfortable feelings is essential to live a happy and productive life. If you are struggling, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional. Getting in touch with the right person may be a great first step to getting your life back on track.
What other ways to overcome anxiety should we know about? What have been some of your experiences? Let us know in the comments!
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Exercise for Stress and Anxiety | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. ADAA. adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
- Brotheridge, C. (2018, October 10). 10 ways to overcome anxiety. Get The Gloss. www.getthegloss.com/article/10-ways-to-overcome-anxiety
- Mental Health Foundation. (2020, August 10). How to overcome fear and anxiety. www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/overcome-fear-anxiety
- Mind. (2017, September). Self-care for anxiety. www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/self-care-for-anxiety/
- Star, K. (2018, May 18). How You Can Learn to Manage Your Anxiety Now. Verywell Mind. www.verywellmind.com/manage-your-anxiety-2584184
- Young, K. (2020, August 17). Managing Anxiety: 8 Proven Ways. Hey Sigmund. www.heysigmund.com/managing-anxiety/