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10 Tips for Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety tips from Carol Hogg, LCSW-R, in NYC

Do you feel anxious when confronted with a certain situations, such as starting a new job or meeting new people? Does this anxiety feel overwhelming and almost paralyzing at times? What steps do you take to manage your anxiety when it becomes too intense?

Some anxiety is normal, an emotional response to the stressors of daily living.

A little anxiety can energize us, such as when taking a test. Sometimes, however, anxiety is more debilitating and can interfere in a person’s functioning.

Although the issues will not magically disappear, there are steps you can take to manage your anxiety and to feel better.

1. Identify the symptoms.

Feelings of fear and unrest, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweaty palms, and sleep disturbances are common symptoms associated with anxiety.

2. Find the source.

Second, what is the source or “trigger” for the anxiety? Is there something new going on in your life, or are there certain people, places, or events causing you distress? When you have identified the symptoms and source, of your

anxiety, you can make a plan for managing it.

3. Vent with a trusted person.

If you are in therapy, discuss the anxiety with your therapist. If you are not, utilize your support system. Venting your feelings and thoughts with a trusted family member or friend can be very beneficial. If you do not have a support system, work on putting one in place.

4. Journal about your fears and issues.

Keeping a journal can also help you vent and clarify your issues. If writing is not your “thing”, just jot down a few words, ideas, or drawings. Journaling is a good way to monitor the progress you are making. End each entry with a positive statement, even if it is difficult.

5. Develop positive self-talk.

Focus on developing the skill of positive thinking and self-talk. This will affect how you view the world around you and how you choose to respond and, ultimately, how you feel. Look for the opportunity for change and growth rather than the negative.

6. Breathe and relax.

Develop relaxation skills such as meditation, deep breathing, visualization, etc. If these do not work, try different methods until you find one that is effective for you.

7. Practice good self-care

Take care of your physical self by trying to get adequate sleep and to eat well. Limit alcohol, caffeine, and “junk food”. Take the time to prepare healthy meals, and try not to eat alone.

8. Get more physical exercise.

If you do not exercise, start! Any kind of aerobic exercise is a good stress reliever as it decreases muscle tension and increases energy. It can also help to facilitate and improve sleep. If you are not a “gym person” or do not like sports, simple walking is sufficient. Make a commitment to do some form of exercise for at least a few minutes every day, even if you don’t want to.

9. Do something joyful.

Try to engage in activities that bring you some joy, especially with other people. If you enjoy going to movies, plays, concerts, etc, make a point to do so. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy, and in environments that feel good to you.

10. Manage your time and boundaries.

Practice good time management and learn to feel comfortable saying “no”. Try to avoid feeling overwhelmed with unnecessary commitments. Practice focusing on your needs and getting them met.

If you are able to develop strategies for managing anxiety, you will feel much better! If you are not able to do this without the help of a professional, consider that to be the next step.

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