This is the third and last post in our three-part series on anxiety. This delivers healthy anxiety management techniques anyone who lives with an anxiety disorder can try. Catch up on our first post discussing the five types of anxiety disorders and our second post detailing why anxiety can lead to alcohol abuse.
At any hour of the day (or night), it’s you and the voice inside your head. You two are inseparable but never the best of friends. It knows you so well but chooses to only blurt out your fears and insecurities.
It’s a loose cannon and, most days, no matter where you go, it’s the loudest voice you hear.
It knows how to push your buttons and make you want to crawl out of your own skin. You try to drown out the sound of its nails-on-a-chalkboard voice, but it’s always just there.
Feeling like you possess absolutely no control over your own mind is terrifying, which can escalate anxiety symptoms that much more. To cope, maybe you’ve leaned on alcohol, drugs, nicotine, food, caffeine or any number of other substances or activities. Understandably, you feel desperate all the time to just feel balanced. Normal.
Or, perhaps you’re looking for ways to manage your anxiety symptoms, so you don’t forge an unhealthy habit.
With anxiety, the only way to ‘win’ and not let fear or the voice inside your heard control your every action, word or thought is to find a healthy anxiety management coping mechanism(s) that works for you.
Here are five anxiety management techniques to try:
1. Stop and Think it Through
You can overrule the voice inside your head. This anxiety management exercise involves continuous self-monitoring of negative self-talk and anxiety symptoms. When you start to stress and notice your mind veering south, press pause and ask yourself three powerful questions:
1. Is my stress and worry legitimate?
Are your thoughts and fears likely to happen? If you’re trying to predict or stress about the distant future, your stress and worry may not be logical or solvable right now. You can also ask yourself: If what I am worrying about comes to fruition, how much will it even matter?
It may be easier said than done, but when you realize you’re worrying about things that may not happen or are impossible to predict, you must let your worry go. When you can train your mind to do this, you can halt a lot of your anxiety symptoms before they become too rampant.
2. Is what I’m worrying about within my control?
If your stress is time-sensitive or justified, ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it right now. If there is nothing you can do, it’s in your best interest to learn how to release the worry and fear. Begin straightforward affirmations by saying out loud, “I cannot change this right now. Continuously worrying about it will only make my mood and outlook worse. I must accept the situation and shift my focus elsewhere for now.”
3. What actions can I take to resolve the issue and stop worrying?
If you arrive at the conclusion that your worry is legitimate and within your control right now, then you need to calm your mind and find an advantageous solution for your situation. Practice effective problem-solving techniques, such as:
- Writing the exact problem on a piece of paper
- Writing down all solutions you can think of, including bad ones
- Thinking through each solution and how they could be carried out
- Determining which is the most practical solution
- Selecting the most practical solution
- Developing a plan to carry out the solution
- Solving the problem via the chosen solution
2. Design a Plan for When Your Anxiety Starts to Kick Up
If you find that your worry is not reasonable or within your control, it’s beneficial to have a plan for how you let everything go, reset your mind and return to a balanced, relaxed state.
- Begin with positive self-talk.
- Find a quiet place to practice breathing exercises, if only for a few minutes.
- Find time within your day to partake in an enjoyable activity that can distract and take your mind off your worry.
- Seek out professional help from a licensed therapist.
When you live with anxiety, it’s never a matter of if your anxiety will rear up, but when. Living life without a strategy of how you will tackle your specific symptoms will only lead to unnecessary chaos. Find a plan that works for you and remain committed to it.
3. Find a Relaxation Method That You Actually Find Relaxing
Exercise and mindfulness activities have long been proven to reduce stress, improve anxiety symptoms and relax the mind. In fact, it only takes about five minutes of aerobic exercise to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Medical experts recommended that individuals get active for at least a half hour a day, three days a week.
But you don’t have to go out for a long run to reduce your stress and worry. When you’re active and partaking in an activity you genuinely enjoy and feel fulfilled doing, your brain produces “feel good” chemicals like endorphins and dopamine. These chemicals help counteract anxiety symptoms and serve as mood boosters. Activity of almost any kind is also a great way to work off nervous energy.
What activity fits your personality and interests?
- Art class
- Volunteering, and so on
4. Discover Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on fundamentally modifying one’s dysfunctional thinking and behavior while teaching effective ways to problem-solve, communicate, control impulses, reduce stress and restructure and center the mind.
CBT is one of the most proven therapy methods, with the ability to address all forms of anxiety disorder and co-occurring disorders. During CBT treatment sessions, individuals with an anxiety disorder, or any other disorder or addiction, learn how to:
- Identify self-destructive behavioral patterns
- Increase awareness of unfavorable thoughts, beliefs, habits and emotions
- Engage in self-talk monitoring
- Increase awareness of impulsive, destructive reactions
- Reframe actions, beliefs, impulses and thoughts through cognitive restructuring
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an incredibly powerful tool that ultimately helps individuals understand that the way they perceive a situation directly influences how they will feel emotionally.
5. Thoroughly Educate Yourself About Anxiety
Anxiety can be incredibly frustrating to live with. You can recognize that everything is perfectly fine, but your mind – this voice inside your head – essentially tricks you into believing that everything is all wrong.
One of the most basic but essential ways to cope and get five steps ahead of this voice is to thoroughly educate yourself on all-things anxiety. Because there are five main types of anxiety disorders.
- It’s important that you identify which type your experiences and feelings align with the most.
- Then, you can learn how and why it occurs.
- From there, you can begin to make sense of where you’ve been with your stress and fear, and how you can improve your day-to-day from here on out.
With a complete understanding of the disorder you contend with, you can manage and overcome anxiety.
Co-Occurring Rehab Treatment at Covenant Hills
If you or a loved one contend with an anxiety disorder and are abusing drugs or alcohol to cope with the incessant worry and fear, rehab treatment can help you regain control over this one life you’ve been granted. You can reconnect with yourself and the future you so desperately want to achieve at Covenant Hills. You do not have to lean on drugs or alcohol to get you through today. Learn about our faith-based, co-occurring rehab treatment program, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety.