Coping techniques: Anxiety

Please note that you should always consult with your physician before making any changes in your diet, your level of exercise and activity, medication or behaviors related to substance use.

The best way to make use of these techniques is to read through them, select three that stand out to you and practice them. I would be glad to hear from you on your responses.

  1. Remember, anxiety is not something to be cured but managed. Adapted and integrated anxiety can be a source of responsiveness and energy in your life.
  2. The nature of unadapted anxiety is overwhelm—too much. Make a list of your current stressors in order to separate them out. For individual problems that you’re dealing with, separate them into smaller more manageable steps. How do you eat an elephant? One serving at a time. To read an article that expands on this idea, please follow this link.
  3. Focus on what you can change. You might not be able to alter all the events or circumstances around you, but you can increase your influence over your responses to them. For any current stressor, draw a simple diagram to determine where your area of influence is and where it isn’t.
  4. Direct your focus to the present, not to the future.
  5. Increase your level of physical activity.
  6. Consider decreasing your use of coffee and energy drinks.
  7. Practice deep breathing. Sit comfortably, with eyes closed or at soft focus. Breathe in, using the belly rather than the chest to do so. Breathe out as if you’re sighing with relief, all the way out. Let your body draw in the air that it needs, focusing only on how your body feels as it takes air in, lets air leave. Count the breaths on the completion of the exhale, up to ten. If your thoughts start up again, when you notice that this has happened, simply acknowledge it, let them go and resume attending to your breath.
  8. Practice creative visualization. For instance, imagine yourself in a favorite place, using all of your senses. See it: the landscape, light, sky. Hear it: bird song, leaves rustling, water flowing. Feel it: grass or sand, the heat or coolness of the air, the breeze. Smell it: the scent of flowers or grass, pine needles or the ocean. Taste it: the salt of the ocean, the stem of a blade of grass you put to your mouth. When you’re getting ready to leave remind yourself that this is your place and that you can come back whenever you need to.
  9. Practice distraction, such as bringing a book or crossword puzzle when you know you’ll be waiting, such as for appointments. Reach out to a friend or family member in order to talk about something positive.
  10. Develop self-soothing behaviors. Watch a favorite movie or television program, something with which you’re already familiar, with no explosions or chase sequences. Access your sense of smell with scented candles or flowers. Listen to music that lets you feel calm. Treat yourself to a warm bath. Focus on your senses, rather than on your thoughts.
  11. Practice exposure. At the pace with which you feel comfortable, select one thing that elicits an anxious response in you and expose yourself to it. Start small and brief. Gradually work your way up to larger and longer. When you’re approaching and when you’re in the presence of something that causes anxiety use self-soothing behaviors. Congratulate yourself with every advance.

To review an article on a basic coping technique for anxiety, please follow this link.