5 Steps to Manage Anxiety

If you’ve ever experienced a heart wrenching, shortness of breath, chest tightening, profusely sweating moment due to a “foreseen or imagined” event you’ve probably experienced anxiety. Anxiety can play out in different ways for different people, however one thing remains the same. It’s a fear of the future or unknown. A sense of having no control. When anxiety is at its peak, it can feel debilitating. We can quickly feel captured, and trapped by this. Often, people can pinpoint their fearful thought. When this is done, we can begin to unpack the fears, and restore a sense of control.

  1. Observe the Anxiety: Instead of getting consumed in the thought, merely observe it. Do so without judgement of it, or an attempt to control or rationalize it. Just be present with it. Accept it. Look at it objectively.
  2. Relax your muscles: Progressive muscle relaxation is another tool you can incorporate whether you’re in bed struggling to sleep, or in the office preparing to give a presentation. It involves doing a full-body examination and tightening then releasing each muscle group in your body. You can begin at your toes and work your way up, taking turns tensing one muscle group for a few seconds, then relaxing it for 30 seconds. Move on to the next muscle group until you’ve worked your way up to the top of your head.
  3. Get some exercise: Exercise has a myriad of benefits, one of which is reducing anxiety. Studies have shown that even 20 minutes of light exercise can significantly reduce anxiety. It is essential that we get our body moving, our heart pumping, and our blood flowing in this way. Increasing our body heat as a result of exercise will flood our body with endorphins.
  4. Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption: This is a must! Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant that will not serve you, and can exacerbate anxiety. While alcohol may momentarily help reduce anxiety, the aftermath of consuming a depressant like alcohol will have its negative effects. Alcohol is a commonly used coping mechanism, and will only prolong the feelings of distress and defeat.
  5. Seek help: Speaking to a therapist regularly will help you to sort out areas of your life that are hindering growth. Often people wait until a crisis or catastrophe in order to obtain support from a therapist. Working things out with a unbiased person, who you can safely speak with will offer a tremendous amount of relief in your daily life. Life can throw us many curve-balls and without the necessary support, we can often fall into victimhood and get “stuck” there.

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