If you suffer from anxiety, then you know you can’t just tell yourself to get over it. That’s not how it works. There’s a constant stream of whispers burbling up from a dark place inside your mind, and some days it can seem like the harder you try to block your ears, the louder it gets. If you’re looking for concrete, actionable ways to confront those fears, and to strip them of their power, then here are some ways of coping with anxiety, and why these methods could work for you.
Because it’s not enough just to believe a method is real; you need to know what it’s doing inside you, too.
Tip #1: Take Deep Breaths
It’s the most basic advice you can get for pulling panic’s teeth, but taking deep breaths isn’t just a psychological trick you’re playing on your brain. As Business Insider points out, taking deep breaths actually tells your body to activate the body’s relaxation response. That’s why, when you’re laying down to sleep, taking deep breaths will get you closer to la la land than if you just kept breathing at your normal pace. So the next time you feel anxiety reaching for your throat, do some deep-diaphragm breathing, and let your body’s natural impulses take you down off the ledge.
Tip #2: Call For A Time-Out
If you’re experiencing a powerful fear reaction, or you feel that low hum of anxiety start to ratchet up, step back for a moment. As the National Health Service says, you can ratchet down the level of fear you’re experiencing by taking a moment to re-establish your perspective. While a time-out won’t make the object of your anxiety less frightening, it will give you time to get control of your reaction to that fear, which can be the difference when attempting to move forward.
Tip #3: Don’t Avoid The Things That Scare You
There are some very healthy sources of fear we should probably not seek out. Things like swimming with sharks, sharing a cage with a bear, or leaping off of high places without so much as a wing suit to help us get back to ground-level safely. However, if you have anxiety about something that isn’t quite so dangerous, like hard conversations with a business client or talking with your significant other about relationship problems, you shouldn’t avoid those things as if they were tall grass with a lion’s tail swishing above it. Instead, as the University of Minnesota says, you should face those fears. Not necessarily all at once, or without concern for your fear response, but if you ever want to overcome your anxiety, you’re going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Just start small, and work your way up.
Tip #4: Learn To Recognize Misplaced Fears
Just like there are healthy things to be afraid of, there are less logical things to be afraid of. You don’t necessarily need to suffer from a phobia to deal with these misplaced anxieties, either. For example, if someone asks whether you want to go out with some of your friends to see a movie, or to grab drinks, and you find your brain spiraling off into a scenario of a thousand what-ifs regarding everything you might say or do that would be wrong, it’s important to hold that instinct at arm’s length, and ask if it’s a real fear, or an illusory one. Are you making a mountain out of a molehill, when you could just say, “thanks, but I think I need a night to decompress for the week,” and your friends would nod, and let you know to call them if you need something?
Just because a fear is illusory, that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. But recognizing a false fear is the first step in no longer being afraid of it. For additional aid in tackling your anxiety, simply contact us today!