5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Now

A number of people emailed me asking if I would write a post about anxiety coping mechanisms.  To be honest with you, this is something that I struggle with if I am in a high anxiety situation.  I get so worked up that I forget to even use these steps.  However, not all anxiety is acute and for me, it can be a constant given the right conditions.  It can be difficult to reduce your anxiety without the proper strategies. As someone who has been aware of my anxiety disorder for about 4 years now, I have come to identify ways that help me personally to address my anxiety in the here and now, and in the long run.

I just want to say before I write this that I am NOT an expert, just someone who lives with an anxiety disorder, and for much of the time lately, has been able to manage it fairly well.  Also, what works for me may not work for you, so keep that in mind as you are reading.  I will try to keep these tips as general as possible, so you can fill in your own situation easier in your head.  Here are my recommendations to reduce your anxiety now:

  1. Recognize when you are anxious.  This may seem weird, but there are times when I am anxious and I don’t even realize it.  For much of my adult life, I think this was my normal state of being, constantly on edge.  Without realizing it, I will just be sitting at my desk at work clenching my jaw or grinding my teeth to the point where the roots of my teeth hurt and I give myself a tension headache in my forehead to my neck.  I will have a nervous stomach for no reason, like how you feel when you are acutely nervous about doing something that you are uncomfortable doing, sometimes this happens to me for no reason that I can see whatsoever.  Recognize your personal symptoms of anxiety, so that you can begin to recognize how and when you are becoming anxious.
  2. Identify the antecedent.  And there may not always be a cause or beginning to anxiety.  For most of us, I think it just “is” and we don’t even always know why.  Are you more stressed out while driving in a big city or when in a crowd of people?  Does public transportation make you nervous, scared, or irritable?  Are you afraid to talk on the phone to strangers?  Find what situations are anxiety-inducing for you and address those situations.  Sometimes, for me, avoidance of anxiety-inducing situations is the best way to go in managing my anxiety disorder.  If I am stressed about driving, I ask K to drive because I know it’s something he loves to do.  If I hate being in a crowd of people, well then I will probably just not go into the crowd and will definitely not go alone.  Public transportation does make me nervous, so I usually drive myself or carry along hand sanitizer and hand wipes.  Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been afraid to talk on the phone to strangers, but this is mostly gone now because I have worked with the public for years, but there are other ways to communicate.  Email is a great one 😀  Find what is giving you anxiety and decide if that situation or thing is worth the anxiety for you.
  3. Talk yourself down.  Sometimes, anxiety hits us when we least expect it.  If I see someone “sick,” then just like that I am in panic-phobia-high anxiety mode.  It’s awful and something that I’ve been trying to work on about myself.  Sometimes just picking apart the situation and seeing it for what it really is does so much to calm me down and help me to get past my anxiety in the moment.  One way I do this is by asking myself the following questions and you’d be surprised by how well these work:
    1. Am I in danger?
    2. What’s the worst that could happen?
    3. Why am I scared of this?
  4. Have alone time.  I certainly miss K when he goes to Korea, but having some small vacation to myself to enjoy all the things I like to do by myself and not have to worry about cooking or caring for anyone other than myself and cat is relaxing for me.  I just go at my own pace and do my own thing.  It might seem selfish, but it definitely helps me.  Some people don’t necessarily have the ability to vacation from their significant other or children, for that matter, for any amount of time, but there are ways to get your alone time in.  Take a walk.  Even better, take a nature walk!  Nature is an incredible healer.  Don’t ever take the beauty of mother earth for granted.  Go to a separate room of the house or visit the library to read a book or knit or crochet something.  It can be anything, you just have to be creative.
  5. Know when to seek help.  Sometimes, no matter what we do, anxiety gets the better of us and it can seem like that dark tunnel never ends.  Mindfulness goes a long way in healing, but it is not always a fix all.  It may be comforting just to have someone to discuss your concerns or problems with.  It doesn’t even have to be a trained therapist or doctor.  Religious centers or community centers often offer counseling services.  Talk to a close friend or loved one.  Search online for local support groups, which are often free and will help you connect to others with similar situations to your own.  You don’t have to suffer alone. There are so many people out there who are willing and wanting to help you.

I think 5 is a good number.  I could go longer, but I might just save those for another day.

What are your thoughts on these methods?  Do you have any methods of your own?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Megan

Additional Links:

10 Ways to Stop Anxiety Quickly

Coping Statements for Anxiety

Recognizing and Managing Your Anxiety

Where to Find Support

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32 thoughts on “5 Ways to Reduce Anxiety Now

  1. Thanks for the advice, Megan. I can definitely relate to the fact that sometimes when I’m in high anxiety situations, I forget the steps I should take to get through it. I think that realizing when you’re stressed and if you’re in real danger is helpful, also keeping in mind that you are most likely actually quite safe. I also agree that it’s important to recognize any triggers that may cause you to become anxious.

  2. I suffer horribly with anxiety and use a combination of the things you have mentioned, my go to mantra is, “what’s the worst that can happen?” I am taking small steps to push my boundaries and will be getting back behind the wheel of a car soon and I am having intrusive anxious thoughts about it already. I will be using mindfulness and breathing techniques to conquer my fears.

    1. I say the same thing when I’m anxious. What’s the worst that can happen really? There are people much worse off than me and sometimes it just takes that realization

  3. Remember me telling you how I would walk through each room and reassure myself that everything in it is in its place? I still do that when I feel the anxiety build up like there is a task left undone. It has never failed me for reducing anxiety. I also do the slow counting breathing thing… I do this very often cause the slow breathing calms me but the slow counting must help my mind focus on the numbers and therefore the cause of anxiety is put on the back burner for a little while. I’ve tried meditation and failed at it….just could concentrate to that level without feeling I have to do something and don’t have time to sit. Great post.

    1. I think I grew up seeing how you cleaned a lot and had to have everything in its place, so I’m the exact opposite cleaning wise. I am terrible at keeping the house really clean. I pick up clutter and stuff, but cleaning I’m actually pretty bad at. The counting helps for sure. I do that at work sometimes. That and wear my headphones 🙂

  4. Great advice, Megan! The only thing I think we all need to be careful of is avoidance. You mention that sometimes that is the best way for you to deal with anxiety. We ALL do that, no question about it. I think with OCD, though, you have to be careful that avoidance (which is a compulsion) doesn’t snowball. That’s what happened to my son. He avoided everything that caused him anxiety and before we knew it he could barely leave the house! Just something to be aware of. Glad you are doing so well.

    1. Yes, I definitely know what you mean. I did put a disclaimer in that part because I know that it’s not always the solution, but sometimes, it definitely is. There are people and places in my life that I just need and that cause me anxiety, so I avoid those places. The problem comes along when it gets to hermit-level. I do my best to get out and go to work and live my life. Seems to work so far.

  5. Writing, watching wrestling, watching tv shows, watching horror movies, reading books, walks, reading wrestling magazines, meds. Anything that is a distraction.

      1. I usually come up with a plan write down a lot of options I have to go with to turn to when things get real stressful or anxiety is bad. It’s just a good list of distractions. A good thing to do is switch to decaf limit caffeine. caffeine makes anxiety worse.

  6. I like this. I too suffer from an anxiety disorder, but have managed to cut down the dosage of benzodiazepine that I currently am taking. I have recently learned to think ahead to situations that have set me off in the past, and this year I was prepared for it, by first recognizing it for what it was – a lot of stimulus at one time, I had a list of things to do to help keep me calmer, and this year, while in Dallas for a week, along with 600 other wheelchair athletes, coaches, caregivers, and volunteers, I was able to manage my anxiety, and I had no trouble with the situation. It was something else that set me off this year, lol.

    1. Good for you Karen! You really had a plan of action for your trip to Dallas. Being around that many people would have caused me anxiety for sure, so it’s great that you were prepared.

  7. Hi there, I just wanted to say, great post! I suffer from anxiety and I agree and can relate to everything you mentioned in this post. When I’m feeling anxious I often try to talk myself down, reason with myself that I am strong and that I don’t need to be afraid, or distract myself with things I enjoy – it doesn’t always work, mind you, but as I’m sure you know, totally overcoming anxiety is always a work in progress.

    1. Sometimes it’s difficult in the moment to practice those skills but talking yourself down is a good technique. Doesn’t always work for me either but it’s good you have some idea of what works for you.

  8. Wonderful advice! I pretty much do all of these things already. What I find that helps me the most is deep breathing and meditation. It quickly quiets my mind and allows me to clearly assess why I’m feeling anxious in the first place. Again, thank you for all the helpful advice (: Keep up the good work.

  9. Megan, I suffered from anxiety most of my life, coupled with depression (fairly severe). My stroke therapist tells me she’s confident that my depression is gone (or, at least, normal in time/intensity), however, my anxiety may still be there. For that reason she had me on a fairly small does of anti-anxiety / anti-depressant. She says if you treat one treat the other as it could be brought out by the medication or just in general.
    My stroke has helped me deal with anxiety as well. I don’t worry much about what I say or when I say it or to whom I say it. I still watch, but at a very normal level.
    I like your suggestions. I don’t know who you go to, but know that I am available if you need to vent, talk, or whatever. My email is on my blog.
    Scott

    1. Thanks so much Scott for all of your continued support and for sharing about that personal part of yourself. I really do appreciate it. I hope you are doing well. Have a lovely weekend!

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