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How Manage Your Anxiety in 4 Ways

Before we delve into the strategies, I want to point out that feelings of anxiety is normal and we need to survive! Imagine if our ancestors were aloof when a tiger appears - I think the human race will cease to exist. Now apply this logic in our modern society: imagine if you were carefree for a job interview, a car accident, or if you have an injury. In these situations, healthy doses of anxiety can motivate us to ensure our survival. Therefore, I think telling someone to "stop" their anxiety is not appropriate since it exists in us biologically. However, it is in our power to manage it so our anxiety doesn't interfere with your life.


Without any further delay, let's jump into ways we can manage your anxiety in 4 ways.


Practice breathing


Anxiety often is accompanied with physical reactions such as increased heart rate, sweating, headaches, shortness of breath and more. Breathing is a simple yet effective method to counter your physical reactions. Tackling the physical reactions alone will help you reduce your emotional anxiety significantly as the body and mind are very connected. There are many ways you can practice your breathing. Here is a short list:

  • 10 minute guided breathing meditation

  • 15 minute gentle and slow yoga flow

  • Listening to calming instrumental music

  • Slowly counting as you inhale and exhale

  • Doing nature walks (or sits) and slowly breathing in the fresh air

When you find the right breathing activity for you, practice it for at least 2 weeks daily for 10-15 minutes. This is important because breathing is a skill and in order to improve on a skill, you must practice it. Sadly, breathing exercises isn't a miracle strategy that works after 1 try. The effects are gradual and as you get better, your ability to calm your mind gets stronger.


If you're unsure where to start, click here to read an article on how to get started!


Write down your thoughts


By understanding your thoughts, you begin to clearly understand why you feel anxiety. The exact same scenario can induce very different emotions between two people and this is because their thoughts about a scenario is different. Here is an example:


Maria and Jane are going to a social party who they don't know anyone. Maria is thinking "People will judge me if I talk. They will think I am silly. What will they think of me?", while Jane is thinking "I am going to meet so many new friends". Maria will feel anxious while Jane is feeling excited. Do you see how thoughts have a strong influence on your anxiety?


Therefore, it's important to practice identifying what you are thinking and why does it affect your anxiety. You may write your thoughts in a journal, as a sentence, or in a chart. If you're unsure how to write down your thoughts, click here to read about how to write down your thoughts in 3 easy steps to help you better understand your anxiety.


Focus on what YOU can do


Sometimes, breathing and writing your thoughts become ineffective when your anxiety levels are soaring. In this case, we can resort to actions and behaviour as we have control over our body (for the most part). Sometimes, it's best to focus your attention away from the anxiety by acting on your leisurely activities. While this may seem like "running away from the problem", you're not. Instead, you are simply distancing yourself away from the anxiety and not letting it affect you too personally. You may have a habit of putting anxiety at the forefront of your thoughts, which leads you to into a downward spiral of negative emotions.


Hobbies and activities help break that spiral. You stop ruminating on your anxiety because you are distancing yourself away from the feeling. Once you are more calm and ready, you can revisit the issue.


If you need some help forming a hobby, click here to read on how to start a hobby to cope with your anxiety!


Talk to someone you trust


Relying on your social support improves your resiliency in managing your anxiety. This "someone" can be a family member, your partner, or a friend. Your relationship with that trusted person acts as a "safety net" from your anxiety and stressors. An analogy: when a baby senses danger, it goes back to the parents because the parents is its "safe zone". In your situation, identify 1 or 2 people as your "safe zone". This person may help your anxiety tremendously.


So to summarize: breath, write your thoughts, do your hobbies, and talk to someone! Your goal is to regulate and manage your anxiety - not getting rid of it because anxiety is a part of everyone's life. So when you know how to cope effectively, you have succeeded.

 

About The Author

Jasmine Tsang is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) under the College of Registered Psychotherapist Ontario (CRPO) and the founder of Reflections Therapy. She specializes in providing counselling services for people facing challenges in their adulthood such as relationships, self-esteem issues, school & career stressors, anxiety, and depression. For more information about Jasmine, click here to read her bio.

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