Living with anxiety is exhausting and can feel like it’s getting in the way of living the life you want for yourself. You can feel like you’re losing control and it can start to impact your day-to-day activities, your relationships, and your self-confidence.
You just want to feel more at peace and you’re wondering:
What can I do to relieve my anxiety?
There are a variety of anxiety treatments out there and the route you take is going to depend on your own needs and preferences, but with the appropriate treatment, you can find relief and learn to better manage your symptoms so you can live life more fully and with more ease.
Here are 8 strategies to help manage your anxiety, some of which you can start today on your own and others which will require professional help. You don’t have to do all of the things listed below and there are more treatments out there than are included in this list, but this is an overview of some effective strategies for treating anxiety to help get you started:
Knowledge is power and when you build your understanding of anxiety, it puts you in a better position to be able to control it. Learn the symptoms and the different types of anxiety disorders, learn what is going on in your nervous system when you feel anxious, and learn about different anxiety treatments to see what your options are.
Relaxation & breathing techniques.
Learn ways to calm your body and mind and reduce tension through relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided meditations focused on relaxation, simply taking a bath or shower, or doing things that you find soothing. Or learn some breathing exercises that focus on taking slow and deep breaths. When you slow and deepen your breathing, it sends a signal to your brain that it is time to relax and unwind.
Mindfulness is a practice of building awareness which generally involves slowing down and observing the present moment with curiosity and acceptance, not judgment. When you are able to observe yourself in this way it allows you to step back from your worries and fears and it opens up an opportunity for change. You can notice your patterns, shift your perspective, and change your habits and your thinking, which has proven effective for reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and improving your outlook.
Through psychotherapy you can learn new coping strategies and other skills to better reduce and manage your anxiety. You can build understanding of the causes or triggers to your anxiety. You can become aware of your patterns of thinking and how they impact how you feel. You can learn to calm your mind and shift your thinking to find relief and feel better about yourself. You can also receive support in problem-solving and decision-making to help move you into action rather than being stuck overthinking and worrying about the worst case scenarios and "what ifs".
When your anxiety levels rise, adrenaline and other stress hormones start running through you and exercise can help reduce the level of stress hormones in your system. Exercise also produces endorphins which can improve your mood and it can help you clear your head and focus on the present moment, pulling you away from overthinking and worry.
Assertiveness and self-esteem building.
It’s fairly common for people struggling with anxiety to also struggle with low self-esteem. You might have an underlying feeling that you aren’t good enough and you feel anxious because you’re afraid of judgment, criticism, or rejection. These fears can lead to difficulties with assertiveness or speaking up for yourself and unfortunately when you don’t speak up, it can add to your anxiety and you can feel worse about yourself.
Learning how to be more assertive and communicating your needs, wants, feelings, and limits can help you get your needs met, feel more understood, prevent burnout, improve relationships, feel more at ease, and improve self-esteem and confidence.
Prescribed medication can be helpful for providing symptom relief and studies have shown that a combination of psychotherapy and medication can be an effective strategy for improving outcomes over the long-term. If you are considering medication, talk with your primary care physician or a psychiatrist about your options.
There are support groups, therapy groups, and courses specifically for anxiety management and although this may sound unappealing to some, group treatment can provide a great opportunity for support and growth. Being with others who have similar struggles can be helpful for knowing that you’re not alone and it gives you a chance to learn from others and their experiences. There can be an exchange of support, education, and ideas for new strategies to try, and it’s another way to receive encouragement and accountability for making changes to better manage your anxiety.
Whether you try one or all of these strategies, taking the time to try something different and take care of yourself is worth it and every bit helps.
If you are ready to take the next step and start getting treatment for anxiety through psychotherapy contact Melanie Lopes, MFT at 415-295-2940 or send me an email.