Coping with Anxiety
Anxiety. Anxiety is one of those things where simply being alive means you experience it. My dog even has a script for Xanax at the pharmacy for those really bad stormy nights! However, the severity, functional impact, number of symptoms, etc., determine whether you are a person who experiences anxiety versus having a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. I frequently work with clients who experience anxiety, and when we discuss ways to cope or reduce anxiety, I often get “yeah, but what can I do make sure I follow through?” Okay, I get it, working on our mental health takes work, it is intentional, and it is daily. I’m going to discuss some of my favorite ways to immediately reduce anxiety.
1. One of the first things to learn is how to reduce anxiety when it feels like it is flooding or overwhelming you. I call this process grounding, as it can put us back in the here and now and away from the flooding feelings of anxiety. I’m a pretty competitive person, so my favorite grounding technique is to find all the items in the room that start with the letter ‘C.’ I keep trying to beat my previous records. This simple grounding technique allows the panic to pass on its own and distracts a person from adding to the anxiety.
2. Deep breathing is such a basic technique, but one of the most effective. It can immediately calm the body and send the signal to your brain that “I’m okay.” My favorite deep breathing is during yoga. It is a great mind/body connection where breath is a focus during a movement. Meditation is another effective form of deep breathing that has proved its effectiveness for thousands of years. When meditating, try to focus on your breathing and be an observer of your thoughts instead of contributing to them. Start slowly, 2 minutes, and slowly build up!
3. Exercise is another effective coping strategy to reduce anxiety. Exercise can boost mood and reduce anxiety. My go to favorite exercise is running because of the release of endorphins which make us feel better. However, really any exercise will be beneficial in reducing anxiety. Many people prefer to lift weights to release the anxious tension they are feeling.
4. Journaling is also a great way to express feelings. While it can be effective to journal about the day, I sometimes challenge my clients to create positive journals. This can break the cycle of negativity and can actually begin to make new connections in the brain. Pretty cool, right?!?
5. Mindfulness is something I discuss often. It’s another way to intentionally appreciate the here and now. The practice can be done at any time. For instance, going for a walk and enjoying the fresh air on your skin, sights of nature, and smells. For most, the easiest mindfulness task to start with is to have a hot bubble bath, with aroma therapy, candle light, and music. You awaken the senses and relax the body.
Whether anxiety seems to be overtaking your life, or you have anxiety from merely being alive, try some of these coping skills. You might be surprised that you enjoyed it as much as you did!
Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S
Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/