There’s a reason why we experience anxiety. Believe it or not, it’s honestly quite logical.
When you become anxious, your brain’s limbic system switches to a model known as fight, flight, or freeze. These become your three options when you are severely stressed and anxious. In reality, it’s the three best options you have when your anxiety gets high.
This process is a holdover from our more primitive selves. Back then, we became anxious because of a physical threat. Nowadays, anxiety rises from situations that don’t necessarily threaten us physically. But they still interfere with our lives significantly. However, there are ways to keep anxiety symptoms and worry under control so you can manage your anxiety.
1. Practice Self-Care to Minimize Anxiety Symptoms
Before you even become anxious, it’s crucial to practice self-care. These are all the tricks and tips you’ve heard over the years to reduce and minimize stress. Remember, self-care isn’t avoidance. Instead, it’s about saving up for when you do experience anxiety. Then you’ll be in the best condition for when you do become anxious. Some self-care ideas include:
- Get about eight hours of sleep per night
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy foods
- Find joy and laughter in life
- Embrace healthy and positive relationships
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco (especially if coping with anxiety)
- Spend time outdoors
Although people frequently mention self-posts, it’s more than a buzzword or trend. However, to avoid being overwhelmed, start with one or two practices, and add more over time.
2. Make Your Daily Life More Simple to Feel Less Anxious
We get anxious when there is more on our plate than we can handle. Coming home to a cluttered and unkempt living space doesn’t help either. It’s time to organize and simplify! Here are a few ideas:
- Keep your home tidy, clean, and organized.
- Get rid of stuff you don’t need anymore (donate, reuse, or recycle).
- Use a calendar (or two if necessary!) to keep track of both work and personal commitments.
- Be okay with saying no. You don’t have to say yes to every request, especially if you don’t have time.
- Consider what you’re passionate about and what you’re not to scale back on commitments.
When your life is more straightforward, it’s easier to feel less stressed and anxious.
3. Challenge Your Inner Critic to Curb Anxiety
Your inner critic is the voice inside your head saying, “You can’t do this” or, “This is impossible.” To some degree, everyone has an inner critic. But for people with anxiety, their critic is especially vocal. It might cause them to freeze up when they’re about to try a new skill.
Or, it works them up in a frenzy of anxiety and catastrophic thinking as they anticipate something terrible is about to happen. But you can counter your inner critic with the opposite language. Say to yourself, “I can do this” or, “I am capable” — even better, “I will do this.”
4. Express Gratitude to Reduce Anxiety
Feeling and expressing gratitude genuinely helps maintain a healthy mindset. Rather than focusing on the negative, such as what you don’t have, you do the opposite.
Practicing gratitude means that you’re grateful for all the beautiful things that you have in your life (family, friends, health, work, etc.). If you focus on what you don’t have, that leads to a negative spiral. You’ll always feel that you’re coming up short. But with gratitude, you can appreciate what you do have right now.
5. Help Others to Help Your Mental Health
Service to others has such a powerful effect on mental health. When you help others, you feel good. One reason might be that you can see the impact of your actions in real-time or at the moment. You know that what you’re doing has value and is vital.
For instance, working at a pantry, like the Mid-Ohio Food Collective in Columbus, Ohio or the Resource Pantry in Worthington, Ohio providing food for those in need. Or exploring the volunteer opportunities at the Ohio Wildlife Center in Columbus, Ohio. Helping others will certainly go a long way to feeling less anxious.
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If you’re struggling with anxiety and worry, try following the tips above. However, if you’re still having trouble, please reach out to a professional for help. Talk therapy can help you process your anxiety and develop more strategies to manage your symptoms. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy for those experiencing anxiety. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. Find out how anxiety treatment can work for you — we’re here to help.