Coping with anxiety to live a fuller life

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Anxiety can be described as persistent and excessive fears about everyday situations. There can be many signs of anxiety. Some of the most common anxiety symptoms can include having trouble sleeping, feeling nervous or irritable, increased heart rate, and difficulty concentrating. If anyone is experiencing any of these symptoms, there are multiple treatment options for reducing anxiety.

Treatments for anxiety can be used alone, with others, or with a medical professional, if severe. Many people believe that medication is the only treatment for anxiety disorders, which is not true. Some of the most common treatments, when used alone, can include relaxation techniques, meditation, and exercise.

Other treatments that can be used with a medical professional include many different types of therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to target the physical symptoms and behaviors of anxiety. Acceptance Commitment Therapy is used as a mindfulness-based approach to help with finding a positive outcome associated with anxiety.

According to research on anxiety, there are various ways for an individual experiencing anxiety to use coping strategies to help when feeling stressed or anxious. Below are in-depth strategies that you may want to try:

  • Eat well-balanced meals. It is essential that you aren’t skipping meals and make sure you have healthy and energy-boosting foods if you need a snack.
  • You can always try taking a time-out. Whether listening to music, practicing relaxation techniques, or taking a nap, it can help to take a step back and clear your mind.
  • Making sure you are getting enough sleep can be equally important. If you are experiencing anxiety or stress, additional rest and sleep can help your body in more ways than one.
  • Try to figure out what is triggering your anxiety. It may help to observe when you are anxious by writing down the situations and looking for common patterns.
  • You can look for support from your friends and family. Just talking to someone about the things that make you feel anxious and stressed can help you—telling people that you are overwhelmed and how they can help you can be extremely useful if looking for support. You can also talk with professional therapists and physicians if you need additional support.
  • It may not always be easy, but maintaining a positive attitude is a helpful coping strategy. Trying to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts can be a challenging accomplishment, but if there is an effort made, it can help.
  • Taking deep, slow breaths can often help. Try to count to ten slowly and repeat if needed.
  • Exercising can be used as a coping strategy. It can help to make you feel better and maintain your health. You could take a walk or bike ride for 30 minutes a couple of days of the week. There are also fun exercise programs that could be enjoyable, such as Zumba, yoga, or indoor cycling.

Often with many things in life, it is good to try different coping strategies to find the one that works best for you or for different situations. Sometimes, it is a combination of pairing multiple strategies. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, please try some of these strategies to see if any are helpful.

Author: Alexis Sanders, Family Life Intern, Community Health, University of Illinois