Sometimes, before you even open your eyes in the morning, you feel your anxiety start to creep in and you dread spending yet another day in its grips.
It might be helpful to know that you’re not alone — anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million adults in the United States, making it the most common mental health issue. Even if the statistics do not provide you with any comfort in the face of your own anxiety, the magnitude of the problem does mean there are plenty of effective coping strategies out there.
To help you find relief from your anxiety, Dr. Matthew Goldenberg, a board-certified psychiatrist in Santa Monica, California, has pulled together a list of 10 strategies that have proven to be highly effective in relieving and managing anxiety.
Get help with your anxiety
Managing anxiety on your own can be tricky, and it’s important to have a mental health care professional in your corner. This first step is an important one as a psychiatrist like Dr. Goldenberg can properly diagnose your anxiety. The next step is to consider medications and non-medication treatment options that are individualized to your specific type of anxiety and its underlying cause.
However, there are some general and widely applicable tools that Dr. Goldenberg can introduce you to.
Tips for managing your anxiety
These are are some very effective steps you can take on your own to manage your symptoms, including:
Getting up and moving is one of the best ways to relieve anxiety because it releases hormones such as dopamine and endorphins that favor positive mental health.
There’s no shortage of studies that support mindfulness as a tool to combat anxiety. One study found that meditation addresses key mediators of anxiety, including rumination, worry, and reappraisal. In simpler terms, meditation keeps you focused on the present so you don’t worry about things that are in the past or in the future.
3. Limit caffeine
Caffeine is designed to give your energy levels a little boost, but it can also fuel anxiety. If you want to keep your anxiety to a minimum, it’s important to keep caffeine to a minimum.
4. Avoid alcohol and drugs
The temptation to self-medicate your anxiety symptoms with alcohol or drugs is a strong one, but know that the relief is temporary and your anxiety often worsens as it waits.
5. Get out with friends
It’s important to “get out of your own head” when you have anxiety, so activities with others can really help. Whether it’s a quiet conversation with a friend or a group outing to the beach, these moments can take you away from your anxiety and help you relax.
6. Get out alone
If the idea of socializing is a source of anxiety, try other outings in which socialization is limited, such as going to the movies or to a museum. These activities can help you focus on something other than your anxiety.
Many people with anxiety find volunteering to be very helpful. Dishing out soup or playing with a dog in a shelter puts the needs of others before your own and can give a new perspective to your anxiety.
8. Practice deep breathing and acceptance
We often use expressions like “fighting your anxiety,” but it might be better to practice a little more acceptance. When your anxiety flares, greet it, accept that it’s there, and then try some deep breathing to help the feelings move along. Believe it or not, treating your anxiety as a reluctant companion rather than enemy number one can help take the teeth out of the problem.
Even if you’re not feeling it, put a smile on your face. The act of smiling can trigger neurochemicals that favor improved mood regulation.
10. Get good sleep
It’s important to maintain a solid sleep schedule when you have anxiety. This means going to bed at the same time and getting out of bed 7-9 hours later. Erratic sleeping schedules or getting too much or too little sleep can often make anxiety worse.
There are plenty of other great tips, therapy and medications to help you better manage your anxiety, and Dr. Goldenberg aims to design a plan that works best for you and your goals.
You can begin with a free, 10-minute phone call with Dr. Goldenberg, who treats patients in both California and Alaska. Simply click here to get the ball rolling on your mental health.