Anxiety, Worry and fear are emotions that everybody feels. Whether that is worrying about your family, finances, or health concerns. Everybody worries, but when this worry becomes consuming, consistent, and persistent it may impact your daily life.
These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with your everyday activities and be very difficult to control. Most individuals experiencing anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medication to manage their symptoms, but lifestyle changes and building strong coping strategies can also make a difference in your day-to-day life.
Here are 8 Ways to Combat Anxious Thoughts
1. Identifying Triggers
This is an important tool for better understanding your racing thoughts and worries. By checking in with yourself when you are feeling an increase in your anxiety you can learn what situations or behaviors contribute to it.
If you find yourself starting to feel overcome with worry, you will want to understand what was happening for you before those thoughts occurred and after. Supporting you in gaining insight and drawing connections to cope with symptoms of anxiety.
You should engage with a mental health provider to develop this insight. Then you can practice these strategies you have developed with that provider to manage your anxious feelings.
2. Breathing Exercises Combat Anxious Thoughts
Breathwork and breathing techniques can be extremely supportive in minimizing symptoms of anxiety. Intentional breathing techniques impact our body on both a physiological and psychological level by slowing your heart rate and regulating your body’s natural rhythm.
Box Breathing is just one type of breathing technique where you would intentionally inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and repeat. The effect on anxiety is almost instant.
Breathing exercises can help you cope and feel more in control. Allows you to check in with the rest of your body as well as self-soothe when feeling overwhelmed by anxious thoughts.
Practice the strategies you developed with your mental health provider so you’re ready to deal with anxious feelings as they arise.
3. Keep an Anxiety Journal
Journaling can have many potential positive impacts on your feelings of anxiety. Journaling can be an outlet for your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Journaling can be a way to gain insight and understanding of your symptoms by identifying the things that were happening before or after your symptoms arose.
Maybe your journal is a place for you to put all your worries. A place for just them. You can allow yourself to rip up the worry or leave it there in that journal space.
Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify potential triggers and what may help you to feel better.
4. Check on Your Physical Health
Our mind and body are interconnected. Therefore, we must be mindful that we are taking care of both our mental and physical health. Think about your current diet, exercise, and sleep schedule. These are critical and impact your symptoms of anxiety.
Introducing a healthy diet that includes many different colorful fruits and vegetables. Developing a good sleep schedule where you are getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night and waking up feeling rested. Getting up and moving around to keep yourself active.
Your physical health can improve your mood and help you stay healthy.
5. Give Yourself a Designated “Worry Time”
Anxiety can make it really hard to stop worrying. Setting aside some specific time to allow yourself to focus on those worries can be helpful. Set an alarm to remind yourself of your worry time. Set a timer to help hold yourself accountable to this worrying time.
If you find yourself worrying throughout the day about a future work evaluation, tell yourself you can worry about that for 10 minutes when you get home from work that day. This way you are still providing yourself time to think and reflect on this worry, while also allowing yourself not to be weighed down by those worries in the present moment.
6. Utilize Your Support System
Don’t let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities. Your support system is there to help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Use them. Involve your family and friends and ask for their support.
Engage in the activities that you find joy in. Allow yourself to be present with those activities and support systems.
You can always build on your support system through support groups, meet-up activities, and engagement with the Buffalo community. As well as set boundaries with your current support system so that you are able to engage with them in a positive and productive way.
7. Try New Coping Strategies
Trying new things can be exhausting and trying new coping strategies is no different. It may look a lot like a trial-and-error experience. If it doesn’t work get rid of it, if it helps keep it.
Not all coping strategies are healthy. Some can be unhealthy, like drinking, self-harm behaviors, and other drug use. They feel like they work in the moment to regulate your stress or anxiety, but many of these unhealthy coping strategies have been found to cause or worsen anxiety.
We don’t want to depend on any, one coping strategy. It is important to try many different things and build up that toolbox, so you have other options to try when you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety.
8. Connect to A Therapist
If your feelings of anxiety are overwhelming and impacted your aspects of daily living, then it may be time to talk to a mental health provider. A mental health provider can support you in engaging with some of these tools for combating anxiety.
If you just read that and feel like you have already tried all of these and nothing is working, or your symptoms of anxiety just will not go away, it may be time to talk to a professional. If you are struggling to cope with your symptoms of anxiety and want to build better-coping strategies, please feel free to reach out to me, Dr. Kendal Vaarwerk, for a free and confidential consultation, after which, together, we can decide your preferred next steps. I look forward to hearing from you!