5 Tips for Managing Anxiety
Anxiety levels in the United States and worldwide are at an all-time high thanks to recent events (namely the COVID-19 pandemic). In the US, nearly 20% of adults aged 18 and older struggle with an anxiety disorder, and that doesn’t include the scores of children and adolescents who are also affected.
Whether your anxiety is flaring due to the holiday season or an anxiety disorder, the team of mental health experts at Amavi Integrative Mental Wellness located in Niwot, Colorado, presents a few tips to help with anxiety.
1. Focus on breathing
Whether you’re dealing with generalized anxiety or you’re prone to panic attacks, deep breathing exercises should be your go-to tool. When your body is in a stress response, your heart can race (or feel like it is), and your thoughts can fly in every direction. Breathing deeply is a great way to calm your body and give yourself a much-needed timeout to slow down your thoughts.
One great breathing exercise is to think of each breath like four sides of a box — inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold for four seconds. Concentrate on the sound of your breathing and occupy your mind by counting the seconds.
2. Physical activity eases anxiety
The benefits of exercise when you have anxiety are proven. One meta-analysis that gathered information from 14 studies concluded that physical activity can decrease the risk for anxiety.
The reasons why physical activity can diminish and protect against anxiety include:
- Releasing muscle tension
- Increasing dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain
- Decreasing stress reactivity
So, if you’re feeling anxious, getting up to go for a walk or practicing some yoga can help.
3. Understand your triggers
Understanding what increases your anxiety is essential. Since the holidays are upon us, let’s use it as an example. If you feel anxious about being surrounded by people or of being judged, the holidays present some challenges.
To better navigate the holidays, practice some of the tips we present above — deep breathing and exercise — and have a plan. If your anxiety is overwhelming, you can step outside or head home early. You should also avoid self-medicating your anxiety with alcohol and avoid caffeinated beverages — these tend to only worsen anxiety in the long run.
Another point to bear in mind is that being around people can often help your anxiety as you’re not home alone with your thoughts. Try and relax into the occasion and focus on the joy of being around family and friends.
4. Don’t get angry with yourself
Anxiety is frustrating as you question why your brain is making you feel this way. Often, people get angry at themselves for allowing anxiety to get the best of them. We urge you to be kind to yourself and understand that there are chemical and biological processes at play. Remind yourself that the anxiety is temporary and that better times are ahead.
And instead of punishing yourself, treat yourself to something soothing, like a bath or curling up on the couch with a good movie.
5. Get help
Anxiety may leave you feeling helpless, but help is available. Our team has extensive experience helping people with their anxiety with psychotherapy, giving them the tools they need to break free from their anxiety.
For experienced and expert help for your anxiety, please schedule an appointment at our office in Niwot, Colorado, which also serves the Boulder and Longmont areas.