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Managing Anxiety

Feeling nervous or stressed from time to time is common.  After all, our bodies are hardwired to respond by promoting safety and security, and when it may be jeopardized, we often experience a series of cognitive and physical signs and symptoms.  These can include thoughts of doom and gloom, overwhelm, difficulty concentrating, recurrent and intrusive thoughts, indecisiveness.  Physical signs can include flushing of the face, stomach discomfort, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and perspiration.  And those who experience anxiety, are also likely to have symptoms of depression. Taken together, these signs are our body’s way of telling us to be on alert and have a heightened awareness for what may happen.  Of course, this can be adaptive, say, if we were not paying attention and missed seeing a speeding car in our pathway.  However, since most of our basic safety needs are routinely met, having our body respond by alerting us to danger can be misplaced. 

How do we tell our body that we’re safe when faced with something that is not deemed a threat?  There are a number of ways to decrease our anxiety.  But remember, it’s always best to consult a medical provider before starting a new regiment, or if you experience any new or worsening symptoms.

Suggestions for Managing Anxiety Symptoms

  1. Identify the root of your anxiety—trying to identify the antecedent
  2. Think of how anxiety serves as a protective factor—it’s our body’s way of warning us to potential danger
  3. State affirmative statements, such as “I can do this.”
  4. Know that anxiety is often time-limited, and thinking of how you can ride out the storm
  5. Contact your social support system and connect with professionals
  6. Practice grounding techniques, such as the “5-4-3-2-1” exercise.  Name 5 objects you see in the room; 4 things you can touch; 3 things you can hear; 2 things you can smell; 1 thing you can taste.
  7. Take a warm shower
  8. Listen to music
  9. Go for a walk
  10. Create and following a routine