Effective anxiety coping skills
Anxiety can affect anyone at any time. Most people have experienced it at some point in their lives. For those who suffer from anxiety on a regular basis, the effects are far-reaching. Not only is anxiety mentally debilitating, but it can also manifest in physical symptoms as well. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, tense muscles, sweating and headaches.
When the symptoms of anxiety become overwhelming it is important to have a set of coping skills ready to regain peace of mind. Here are just a few:
- Controlled breathing: When practicing controlled breathing, the most important thing to remember is to simply focus on breathing. People practicing this coping skill often place their hands on their stomach and chest to guide their breathing. Subjects inhale and exhale slowly and evenly, using imagery to help let go of anxiety as they breathe out, letting their worries fade away.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: In this coping skill, individuals lie down in a comfortable setting and remove their shoes. They focus on breathing and start focusing on each muscle group, tensing and relaxing them in turn. As they release the tension, they release their anxiety and worry.
- Dietary changes: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet helps keep people physically and mentally balanced. In addition, one of the best dietary changes people can make to lower anxiety is cutting out caffeine. As a stimulant, caffeine enhances and intensifies the heightened emotions and thoughts that occur when people are anxious.
- Challenging anxious thoughts: When challenging anxious thoughts, the first thing people must do is identify that they are having them. Once identified, then people can begin to ask themselves why the thoughts are occurring and how they make them feel. Then they can evaluate the thoughts to see if they are realistic and proportional to the situation. By taking the exaggeration and uncertainty out of the thoughts, they should be able to develop more realistic thought patterns.
- Controlled worry time: Worry is a big component of anxiety. By determining a set time to address their worries, realistic or not, people free up the rest of their thoughts and time to address more realistic, positive thoughts. The process involves briefly writing down worries as they occur. When the worry period comes, people allow themselves 15 minutes of worrying. Over time, then people begin to see that it isn’t worth spending the time to worry at all.
Anxiety is real and can be debilitating. If you find yourself unable to handle it on your own, even with these suggestions, it is important for you to get help. Seeking out mental health programs that can help address these issues is essential. In addition, if anxiety is a co-occurring symptom of another disorder, then it is key to seek out a dual diagnosis program to address all aspects of your mental health. Help is available if you ask for it.
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