Anxiety can be crippling. It can be constant and last all day, playing in the background or constantly nagging. It can also come up at unexpected times, with great intensity, and keep you from being productive, or even leaving the house. If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, it can significantly affect relationships and the ability to accomplish simple tasks throughout the day. Hanging out with friends and getting through the workday may seem impossibles. If you struggle with general anxiety or an anxiety disorder, here are a few ways to regain control of your life and manage its symptoms.
One of the worst ways to deal with anxiety is to try and avoid it. Denying the feeling does not help, it actually exacerbates it. Instead of denying and avoiding, one way to cope with anxiety is to acknowledge it. Anxiety is not a completely unhelpful emotion. It can help us accomplish tasks, meet deadlines and avoid risky situations. Anxiety also signals that we need help. The next time your anxiety bothers you remember “It is okay to feel this way.”
This is the MOST IMPORTANT tip for anxiety management! When you get anxious, your body is in a heightened state of awareness known as fight or flight. When you are in this state, it is difficult to think clearly about what’s going on because the portion of your brain responsible for decision making and planning is partially offline. One way to get that part of your brain back up and running is to BREATHE. Wherever you are, take some time to inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 4 seconds. Do this at least ten times or until you notice your anxiety becomes manageable.
Another way to cope with anxiety is to evaluate the situation that caused it to get out of control. Sometimes the amount of anxiety we experience can be out of proportion to what set it off. A lot of the time, simply observing what caused your anxiety and seeing if your response is justified can be helpful.
Do you have any planned activities throughout the week that you enjoy? If not, making time in your schedule to relieve stress and do things that you enjoy can be extremely helpful. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy is like adding money to your mental-health bank. If you have added to your mental-health bank, then you can make a withdrawal when you are going through stressful situations throughout the week
You are not alone in feeling anxious. Talking to friends or finding a support group can be incredibly helpful when dealing with anxiety. Knowing that other people experience anxiety and feeling understood is crucial to the healing process.
If your anxiety tells you lies like “I’m never good enough” “If I don’t do this, then that must mean I’m a failure” or “I’m going crazy” then fight back. One way is to write down truths that oppose the lies your anxiety tells you. If you struggle to find positive truths about yourself, then ask people who you know and trust. You can write them down on a note in your phone or keep them on a notecard in your back pocket. Regardless, keep them somewhere close by and pull them out when you need them the most.
Sometimes dealing with anxiety may seem like an impossible task and you can get stuck. Maybe you think that no one will understand or are embarrassed by your experience. If that is the case, I encourage you to find a mental health professional in your area. Licensed counselors are trained to help people fight anxiety and find healing.
Anxiety is not easy to manage, but these tips can help. If you want to keep these ideas close by, you can print this post and put it on the fridge, in your car or somewhere at work. Keeping this around can provide insight into when your anxiety tends to surface. The first step to managing your anxiety is realizing when you are being controlled by it.
If you feel like counseling might be the right fit for you, click here to schedule an appointment with us. Our team is happy to help answer any questions you may have about anxiety disorder or what counseling for anxiety looks like at Lifeologie.
Mark Shoemaker is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) at Lifeologie Counseling Plano Richardson. Mark works with couples and individuals with anger management, anxiety disorders, depression, shame, identity, spiritual concerns, relationship concerns, and trauma. He has a strong desire to help others find healing and hope in the midst of some of the toughest problems life can throw at you.