Coping with Anxiety

Coping with anxiety can be a struggle.  It is, even more, of a struggle when you avoid it.  Accepting your anxiety can be one of the hardest parts of dealing with it, but doing so can be freeing. It can be tempting to pretend it does not exist and push all those thoughts and fears down, but they will come back up, often worse than if you dealt with them.

Why Avoidance is Hurting You

If you suffer from anxiety, you are more than familiar with avoidance. This is when you start avoiding people or situations that make your anxiety worse. While it seems you are just protecting yourself, you might be self-sabotaging.

The more you avoid it due to your anxious feelings, the more you get comfortable with this habit. You start becoming more isolated, which can make your anxiety worse, not better. While you don’t have to get into terrifying situations, there is a balance between avoidance and acceptance while stepping out of your comfort.

What to do Instead

Avoidance can be a hard habit to break, but soon you will understand what it is like to feel your anxiety and still move forward with your life.

You can start small by slowly getting out of your comfort zone. Take one situation you tend to avoid, but one of the more minor ones. Say, for example, when you get coffee in the morning, you always use the drive-thru because it causes less worry than if you go inside surrounded by people.

Choose one morning when it is less crowded and go inside to get your coffee. Get used to fewer people, then slowly start going inside more often to become accustomed to being around people instead of constantly avoiding it with the drive-thru.

This small change over time becomes something you get used to, where your anxiety is not gone, but you are more accepting of it.

Learning to Accept Your Anxiety

Accepting your anxiety does not mean that you are avoiding it or even that you are curing it. You want to reach a point where you understand and acknowledge that it is there and you are working on being in control of it. You will continue working toward reducing your anxiety, but you also know that it will never be gone completely. You use radical acceptance which basically says, “it is what it is.”

You accept your anxious thoughts and try to move beyond them where they no longer have the same control over you.

Strategies to Reduce Your Anxiety

  • Radical Acceptance:  It is what it is.
  • Butterfly Taps: 

    Cross your arms over your chest and tap your shoulders left to right.  Adding a little pressure while tapping and tapping at the rate of your heartbeat.  As you tap, take a few deep breaths.  Do this for about 3 – 5 minutes or until your anxiety begins to reduce.

  • Body Scan:  

    Find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Next, pay close attention to physical sensations in your body, noticing any tension or tightness you may have in each muscle as you scan your way up your body. If you notice any tightness, just relax. Begin at your feet and work your way up through your legs, hips, abdomen, chest, back, arms, shoulders, neck, and face. For example, notice if your tongue is at the roof of your mouth; if so, drop it and relax. Spend at least 15 to 45 seconds on each body part.

  • Four, Seven, Eight Breathing Exercise: 

    Take a deep breath in through your nose for the count of 4. Next, hold for the count of 7 and then exhale through your mouth – SLOWLY – for the count of 8. Repeat this until you begin feeling relaxed. TIP:  add butterfly taps.

Check out my journal and planner to help you cope even more with anxiety!