Coping Skills For Anxiety

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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Published on

June 05, 2024

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Updated on

June 05, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Robert Stevens

Anxiety

Anxiety can feel all-consuming at times, especially if you struggle without knowing how to cope with the symptoms. At re-origin, we have helped hundreds of people build powerful anxiety coping skills and retrain their brains to better manage the negative feelings associated with anxiety disorders. Below, you will find some of the most powerful ways to cope with anxiety in both the short and long term.

Immediate Ways to Cope with Anxiety

There are many coping strategies for managing anxiety, but not all are created equal. If you are struggling with intermittent episodes of acute anxiety, you may benefit from one of the seven suggestions below.

1. Question Your Thought Patterns

Curiosity is one of the most powerful coping techniques for reducing anxiety. If you find yourself stuck in a pattern of anxiety, instead of judging your experience, try getting curious about the reason for the anxiety. Allow yourself to pause and question if your thoughts are actually true—"Would this thought hold up in a court of law?” If you cannot “prove” your thought with facts, it is likely not true; you should take a deep breath and let it go.

2. Practice Measured Breathing Techniques

Measured breathing can move the brain from a sympathetic state (known as “Fight or Flight”) to a parasympathetic state (known as “Rest and Digest”).1 Aim to exhale longer than you inhale for maximum benefits. A great place to start is by inhaling for a count of four seconds, followed by exhaling for a count of six seconds.

3. Try Aromatherapy 

Aromatherapy works by stimulating your sense of smell. When this occurs, your brain produces the feel-good chemical serotonin, which improves your mood and helps you feel calm.2 One of the most popular ways to use aromatherapy to cope with anxiety is to place a couple of drops of essential oil into a diffuser and let it run for an hour or so. Make sure to turn it off if you plan to leave the house.

4. Get Moving With Simple Exercise

Physical activity has been proven to produce feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. The production of these hormones increases feelings of motivation and happiness, boosts energy, and improves your physical health. The best part is that do not have to work out for an hour to feel the effects! Consider going for a short, brisk walk in the morning, dancing to your favorite song, or even stretching your body after getting out of bed. Any amount of movement has benefits if you experience anxiety!

5. Perform Grounding Techniques

Are you experiencing a stressful situation and an increase in anxiety? Sit or stand with your feet placed firmly on the ground. Put all of your focus on the soles of your feet. This transfer of focus can immediately take you away from your current situation and back into your body. Connecting with your body is a great way to calm your nervous system and decrease anxiety. If you’d like to take it one step further, go outside and plant your bare feet in the grass or dirt. Recent scientific evidence has proven that coming into contact with the earth can decrease anxiety and pain and improve sleep.3

6. Quit Smoking And Avoid Caffeinated Beverages

Smoking4 and caffeine have both been proven to produce excess amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.5 This hormone increases blood pressure and heart rate and often primes us for “Fight or Flight.” While cortisol has its benefits, long-term production can contribute to feelings of anxiety and panic attacks.

6: Quit Smoking And Avoid Caffeine

It is well known that the nicotine in tobacco smoke and caffeine both lead to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. Simply avoiding these two stimulants can solve your anxiety issues.  

7. Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drugs

Similar to smoking and caffeine intake, drugs and alcohol can both put the body in a state of stress.6 While they may initially “take the edge off,” the body then overcompensates, e and once the effects of drugs or alcohol wear off, you will feel more anxious than before – known as the “rebound effect.” Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol to cope, try one of the other techniques listed above.

Long-Term Ways to Cope with Anxiety

If you have been struggling with intermittent anxiety for longer periods of time, consider combining the techniques above with some listed below.

1. Neuroplasticity Exercises

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change throughout a person’s lifetime. This ability of the brain to change means you can learn new things, recover from illness and disease, improve parts of your brain that may have decreased function, and even minimize the effects of anxiety! In our self-directed brain retraining program, we provide you with science-backed tools and information that will help you change the way you think about your anxiety. When you change the way you think, you change the way you behave. And when you change the way you behave, anxiety loses its power over you! If you’d like to learn more about our program, join our free live info call today.

2. Identify And Learn To Manage Your Triggers

Taking the time to identify what situations trigger your anxiety can be extremely beneficial. With this information, you can decide which triggers you can eliminate from your life and learn to manage the anxiety triggers that are impossible to avoid. Focus on what you can control, like your own thoughts and actions around triggering situations.

3. Try Talk Therapy

Working with a mental health professional can be a helpful tool in managing feelings of anxiety. A third-party perspective can help you look at your anxious thoughts differently and gain a deeper understanding of the root cause of those thoughts. Consider finding a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to challenge anxious feelings, minimize negative thoughts, and improve overall mental well-being.

4. Speak To Your Doctor About Medication

Medication can be effective in minimizing symptoms of anxiety. If you have tried various coping techniques and continue to struggle, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Consider speaking to your primary healthcare provider or a psychiatry specialist to determine whether medication may be right for you.

5. Practice Routine Meditation

Routine meditation can calm the nervous system and help you separate yourself from feelings of anxiety. Over time, the practice can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, clear brain fog, improve focus, and improve overall mood.

Many forms of meditation can help with anxiety management. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Grounding exercises
  • Relaxation techniques (including progressive muscle relaxation)
  • Breathing exercises (with an emphasis on deep breathing)
  • Mindfulness meditation

If you are new to meditation, consider using an app that provides guided meditation. This will help you feel more confident in your practice and improve your ability to focus on the present moment.

6. Start Journaling

Journaling is a helpful tool for putting anxious thoughts down on paper so they no longer cloud your mind. Consider journaling at the end of the day to release any built-up anxious or negative thoughts. This technique can calm your mind and may also help you sleep more soundly.7 For more tips on how to manage anxiety at night, check out our article, How to Calm Anxiety at Night: 7 Tips to Get to Sleep.

7. Socialize More With Friends And Family

Turning to loved ones or support groups during times of anxiety may greatly impact your overall well-being. Being part of a community and spending time with loved ones boosts the feel-good hormone oxytocin and gives us a sense of belonging, purpose, and support.8 All of these are foundational needs of being human, so lean on loved ones or join a support group, such as a re-origin Momentum Group, to help better cope with anxiety!

8. Stay Active With Consistent Exercise

As mentioned above, physical activity is vital for coping with anxiety and improving overall wellness. Creating an exercise routine that you can stay on is much more important than what type of exercise you choose. You don’t need to join a CrossFit gym or do hot yoga to feel the benefits. Just aim to move your body a little bit every single day. Consistency is key!

9. Make Changes To Your Diet

Various dietary changes can be beneficial in anxiety management. Most important, though, is a diet including whole foods. If you are interested in what type of diet may be best for you, consider meeting with a nutritionist. 

Contact re-origin Today and Learn How Their Neuroplasticity Training Program can Help with Anxiety

re-origin has helped many people overcome feelings of anxiety and improve their health and well-being. In fact, our members saw a 26% reduction in anxiety in their first six weeks of the re-origin program. If you’d like to learn more about how our program can change your brain, join our free live info call today.

References

  1. Komori, T. (2018). The relaxation effect of prolonged expiratory breathing. Mental Illness, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/mi.2018.7669
  2. HealthMatch staff & HealthMatch Pty Ltd. (2022b, August 24). Anxiety relief using essential oils. HealthMatch. https://healthmatch.io/anxiety/essential-oils-relieve-anxiety#how-essential-oils-help-with-anxiety
  3. Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/291541
  4. Badrick, E., Kirschbaum, C., Kimari, M. (2007). The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 92, Issue 3, Pages 819–824, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2006-2155
  5. Lovallo, W. R., Whitsett, T. L., Al’Absi, M., Sung, B. H., Vincent, A. S., & Wilson, M. F. (2005). Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67(5), 734–739. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.psy.0000181270.20036.06
  6. Cleck, J. N., & Blendy, J. A. (2008). Making a bad thing worse: adverse effects of stress on drug addiction. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 118(2), 454–461. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci33946
  7. Scullin, M. K., Krueger, M. L., Ballard, H. K., Pruett, N., & Bliwise, D. L. (2018). The effects of bedtime writing on difficulty falling asleep: A polysomnographic study comparing to-do lists and completed activity lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147(1), 139–146. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000374
  8. The importance of community and mental health. (n.d.). https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2019/The-Importance-of-Community-and-Mental-Health

By

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

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