Although anxiety is a part of life and everyone experiences it at some point, those who suffer from extreme stress, worry or fear struggle to live their life normally. Whether it’s with your career, education or social life, the symptoms get in the way of it all.
Unlike normal anxiety, an anxiety disorder doesn’t go away and can become severe over time. Regardless of the type of anxiety disorder you have, it’s important that you learn how to live with anxiety so that you can find relief from your symptoms and live life to the fullest.
This includes understanding how your condition affects you, identifying the triggers and implementing the coping strategies discussed in this article. All of which are key to stopping anxiety from taking over your life.
How to Live with Anxiety: 12 Coping Strategies
The following are a mixture of social, emotional and physical strategies that you can explore to see what works for you.
1. Get Involved
Keep your mind and body busy by volunteering and helping out in the community. Engaging in uplifting activities that can provide fulfilment from giving back and help you build connections that can support you. Also attending meaningful events that can make you feel like you’re a part of something.
2. Share Your Struggles
Don’t isolate yourself from others and believe that you’re alone in your experience. There are people out there who can relate to what you’re going through.
Find a person that you trust and can confide in. From those close to you, identify with whom you can open up to regarding your struggles and don’t be afraid to make the move.
By making yourself vulnerable, you also help others feel comfortable to share what they’re going through.
3. Seek out Support
A support system can help you feel like you’re not alone and that there are people out there whom you can relate to and that share your experiences and struggles.
Anxiety support groups exist both in-person and online, with a variety of options available to suit your needs. For example, you can get support groups for specific communities, genders and ages.
Having a community of people who not only understand you but can share tips and advice on coping strategies that worked for them can be valuable.
4. Practise Breathing
Practise breathing in and out, deeply and slowly. This technique helps your mind and body relax by signalling to your brain that you’re not in danger.
It’s more effective when you rest flat on your back and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. As you breathe in slowly, protrude your belly out as far as it can go. Hold it for a couple of seconds, then slowly exhale out.
5. Tense Your Muscles
Tensing your muscles can help you control your anxiety symptoms. Focus on one muscle group, e.g. your legs, tighten it for a few seconds, and then relax. You can target several muscle groups or work through your whole body by focusing on one of them at a time.
Anxiety Canada details how to perform progressive muscle relaxation and provides guided audio to facilitate the process.
6. Challenge Anxious Thoughts
Negative thoughts are like fuel for anxiety. The more you are engrossed in them, the worse your anxiety gets. Challenge your negative thoughts with positive ones and visualise yourself confronting your fears. This will become second nature the more you do it.
It’s also helpful to look at what you can and cannot change about your situation. Work on what you can change and accept the things that aren’t in your hands.
For a deep dive on getting over your worries and anxious thoughts, check out this piece by HelpGuide on How to Stop Worrying.
7. Put Things into Perspective
Anxiety can arise from excessive worry about things that you think will happen but won’t, or things that aren’t going to have a significant impact long-term. Put things into perspective and think about how these things will affect you in five months or five years.
Whatever you think may or may not happen, have a plan in place for each outcome so that you’re better prepared to deal with things.
8. Set Some Time to Workout
Exercise is vital for your physical and mental health. It can improve your mood, raise your confidence, and lower stress and anxiety. Try to incorporate three to five 30-minute workouts in a week.
You’ll be more motivated for each session if you include exercises you enjoy and introduce new, challenging workouts so that you don’t get bored.
9. Manage Your Sleep
Ensuring you get a restful sleep is important in helping you control your anxiety. 8 hours of deep sleep is recommended by most health professionals. Sticking to a routine may help you fall asleep easily and improve your sleep quality. You can try:
- Regulating your room’s temperature so that it isn’t too hot or too cold.
- Preparing your bed so that it’s comfortable for you.
- Avoiding screens an hour before sleeping.
- Eating your last meal 4 hours before you go to bed.
For tools and tricks that can help ease your anxiety and allow you to sleep better, this article by Healthline is a must-read.
10. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Try to limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol as they’ll make your anxiety worse, especially in situations that already elevate your anxiety. As well as coffee and fizzy drinks, caffeine is found in tea, chocolate, diet and workout supplements, and some headache medications.
11. Identify Your Triggers
Make a note of places, situations, and with certain people where you’ve felt most anxious. See if you can spot any patterns and come up with ways to avoid or confront your fears and worries. Being able to understand what causes your anxiety allows you to put those worries into perspective. Making you better equipped to handle similar situations.
12. Consider Therapy
And if the above strategies aren’t enough, you can also consider therapy and counselling for professional advice and guidance on how to live with anxiety.
At The Henry Centre, we work with you to understand what is causing your anxiety, help you to tackle your symptoms and improve your quality of life. We strive to offer you effective support that relieves your distress and sets you on a path to recovery.
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