Nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from an anxiety disorder. Dealing with anxiety in everyday life can be tough and, unfortunately, therapy is not accessible to some individuals. Healthy coping mechanisms are good alternatives that can help you manage your anxiety.
Limit triggers, if possible
If you know that extra cup of coffee will make your heart beat wildly and possibly send you into an anxiety spiral, try to see if you can cope without it. Try drinking a smaller amount for a quick boost of energy if you really need it or go for a short walk to wake up your body and brain. Both caffeine and alcohol can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. As a stimulant, caffeine will start your “fight or flight” response, which can confuse your brain and send you into an unintentional panic. On the flip side, alcohol alters the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. And you could actually feel worse after the effects of alcohol have worn off.
Exercise daily, even a little bit
It’s no surprise that exercise does a body good — but it can also help your mind, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can ease anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins that enhance your sense of well-being. Engaging in exercise can also divert your attention from the thing that you may be anxious about. If you’re focusing on running or doing an exercise correctly, you’re less likely to think about something else.
Count slowly and repeat
Exercise isn’t for everyone, so it’s vital that other ways of coping are available. One of the simplest ways to refocus your mind is to count. By counting to 10 slowly, you’re making your brain focus on something new with every number. If going up to 10 isn’t enough, you can up it to 20 or even count backwards. However, it’s important to note that countdowns don’t work for everyone because they can create a sense of “impending doom” that doesn’t help anxiety. Counting once to 10 or 20 may not work initially, but if you start again and repeat slowly, you may find solace.
Take a timeout
Simply stopping what you’re doing and doing nothing can help with anxiety. Sometimes we don’t realize how much harm we’re doing to ourselves by continuing to go full-force. Go sit by an open window, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. You can also try meditation or some light yoga to help settle yourself. Many music streaming services have pre-made relaxation playlists available that could help you chill out for a bit, too.
Talk to someone
Even if you can’t go to a therapist, it always helps to talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend or a family member, getting your feelings out in the open can help you realize more things or allow that person to provide additional helpful techniques. Keep in mind, there are many free mobile apps that can still help you manage your mental health. You can track symptoms and triggers so you know how to avoid certain things or you could just use one as a personal journal to reference when you can get to therapy.
The most important thing to consider when dealing with anxiety is to just try your best. No one is perfect and life is going to be tough sometimes. But you can help yourself with some of these techniques to make it a little easier.