Manage Your Anxiety DAILY — Tips From a Therapist
Anxiety is a physical, emotional, and cognitive response to stressful situations. As humans, we are doomed to experience stressful and adverse situations — that’s how life is. Hence, we all are subject to anxiety.
Some cases of anxiety are adaptable. Others become clinical as the symptoms impair one’s functioning. When it comes to the gray areas, for some individuals, anxiety comes and goes. Other people struggle with high functioning anxiety. Ultimately, the matter is that in whatever the case, anxiety feels uncomfortable.
Some cognitive processes and predispositions lead to anxiety. Including intolerance to uncertainty, rejection sensitivity, avoidance, perfectionism, poor stress management, poor metacognition, excessive worry and rumination, attention bias, safety sensitivity, and trauma. Which ones relate to you?
There are strategies that can improve the symptoms for each of the mentioned factors that result in anxiety. In previous stories, I have shared therapeutic techniques that you can do to de-escalate anxiety and panic attacks. However, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to go through extreme moments of anxiety, to begin with?
I am a licensed therapist who struggles with moderate to severe high-functioning anxiety. Throughout my career, I have learned techniques that help me de-escalate anxiety once it reaches high levels. As a result, I can get through a panic attack, no problem (though it took years to master). Yet, I have realized that it is in my best interest to address my anxiety before it rises to strenuous points.
Managing anxiety comprises more than knowing what to do during a crisis; therapeutic activities don’t always work when we get to that level.
Many of my clients tell me that meditating in “freak out” mode is not doable. When they are overwhelmed, journaling does not help, or taking deep breaths when they are about to explode is not always practical. Even taking medication to lower the symptoms only helps until next time. And I get it!
Therefore, if you struggle with anxiety, you will want to do more than apply practices when in distress. You will want to change your lifestyle by including activities that nurture good mental health.
Part of the treatment for anxiety that I practice with my clients entails discerning three practices that they can make part of their routines (to promote a healthy brain). I help my clients to commit to engaging in these practices every day. Therefore, the activities should be simple and sustainable long term. Some of them are:
- 10 min in nature
- Serenity ritual (aromatherapy, affirmations, serenity prayers, gratitude, spiritual practices)
- Journaling (link to my journals and mental health worksheets)
- Avoiding/reducing caffeine and toxic substances
- 20 min of exercise or stretches
- Consuming 1 liter of water
- Meditating (I recommend “Oasis Meditation”)
- 4 min of breathing exercises
- Sunlight exposure
- Following a morning and night routine
- Listening to self-help or inspirational podcasts on the way to work
- Consuming adaptogens (I recommend the Isagenix brand)
- Social time
- Improve your eating habits (I recommend mindful and intuitive eating)
- 8 hours of sleep
- 30min breaks every 4 hours
- Usage of mood trackers
- Counteracting anxious thoughts
If you are not sure where to start, I recommend you complete an anxiety log to understand your triggers, the time of the day when you are the most anxious, and the signs that lead to the build-up of anxiety. Here is an example of the information you want to take into consideration:
- Date and time when you felt anxious
- Symptoms (physical, emotional, cognitive)
- Thought content
- Label feelings and emotions that came up
- What were you doing at the time? And where were you?
- The effect or outcome of anxiety
This log will assist you in understanding your patterns. The more you know about your anxiety, the more power and ability you will have to navigate it.
For example, if your symptoms are primarily physical, you will want daily practices that relax your body. Whereas, if your anxiety is predominantly cognitive, you will want to have daily routines that emphasize check-ins with your emotions and thought patterns.
Anxiety is a human condition that we cannot eliminate. We can learn to manage it by not fearing it — but instead learning to accept it and making space for it.
When challenging circumstances occur in your life, your anxiety will get triggered, but if you are in good health, you will have the proper strength and mental capacity to get through it.