Sources of anxiety surround us. The news. Social media. Global events (Hello, Pandemic). Local concerns. Parenting. Being a kid. Work. School. Relationships. Friendships. Peer pressure. Body image. Health. The messages we’re bombarded with can leave us in an almost-perpetual state of anxiety, and it’s important that we have healthy, easy ways to deal with it.
But let’s first try to make a distinction between having feelings of anxiety and having an anxiety-related disorder: with relatively-temporary feelings of anxiety, a person is typically experiencing worry, nervousness, or unease — usually about something coming up or that’s currently going on. This anxiety might last hours, days or weeks. But it’s not keeping you from leaving the house, and it has an end. It passes.
An anxiety disorder is more serious. This is a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, affecting day-to-day activities — and often comes with compulsive behavior or panic attacks. If you fall in this latter category, this article may be useful, but we encourage you to see a professional to explore long-term options for managing your anxiety.
Either way, most of us are looking for some immediate relief to the anxiousness that has become increasingly familiar in our lives. Here are ten ways to deal with anxiety when it creeps up on you.
Eating whole, healthy foods maintain steady blood sugar and energy levels, boost immune systems and can even affect serotonin production. Remember that planning ahead is key to eating well regularly. When we wing it, we end up with fast food or skipped meals.
Sleep is so vital to our mind and bodies functioning well, but anxiety often interferes with sleep. Taking steps to help you fall asleep more easily — such as warm showers, avoiding screens and having a bedtime routine — should be part of your anxiety-fighting arsenal.
Step away from the issue.
Whatever it is, pick an activity that allows you to deliberately focus your mind on something else. Mindfulness and meditation, for example, are all about YOU controlling your thoughts, rather than the other way around.
Lay off the coffee.
We know, this one is rough. But the caffeine in coffee can be a real trigger for heart-pounding anxiety and aggression.
Work up a sweat.
Just five minutes into aerobic activity, you might start to feel the anti-anxiety effects. Exercise has endless benefits, but combating anxiety is one of its most awesome tricks.
Inject upbeat messages in your life.
Between the radio in the car, the television at home, and the podcasts and music you listen to everywhere else, you’re feeding your brain all the time. Assess these. Are they positive, affirming, inspiring, funny and/or uplifting? If not, choose some new messages.
Turn off the downer messages.
Feel bummed after a Facebook session? Is bouncing between all your accounts stressing you out? You’re not alone. Go on a social media sabbatical for a while. You may love it so much you never come back.
Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
Or, if you’re not a dog person, hit the local food bank. Or the nursing home. Using your time to help others has the added bonus of helping yourself by bringing you happiness and satisfaction, combating loneliness, and building self esteem.
Write it down.
allows you to identify the source of your anxiety and look for patterns and triggers. The result? In better understanding your anxiety, you are better equipped to deal with it.
Talk about it.
One of the hardest parts about coping with anxiety is the feeling that you’re doing it alone. Tell somebody how you’re feeling. Putting words to your worries and having them validated by another human being can do wonders to disempowering them. That person can be a friend or a professional — and no, you don’t have to have a clinically-diagnosed disorder to talk to a counselor!
And, by the way, if you’d rather start with something more anonymous, you can always try an online conversation with a therapist.