When we are anxious, we tend to forget how strong we are. Anxiety and panic feel scary, but we must remember that we have ways to deal with them.
In this post, we will discuss the several types of coping strategies for anxiety, both short-term and long-term, and treatment options for anxiety at SUN Behavioral Delaware
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety can be caused by a combination of factors, from inborn traits to environmental triggers. There are several triggers for anxiety, but some of the most common triggers are starting at a new job, taking a test, or meeting someone for the first time.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of anxiety include:
Because of these symptoms of anxiety, many try to find coping mechanisms. There are some short-term coping mechanisms and some long-term mechanisms. Let’s start with short-term coping methods.
These are coping mechanisms that work if your anxiety is surrounding a specific event or situation. This anxiety will typically go away after the event takes place, but these coping mechanisms are quick natural remedies to help you before the event.
We truly take for granted how important fresh air can be to our mental health. Focusing on our bodies can take our minds off of anxiety. Exercise in general improves our anxiety as well. Regular exercise mimics the responses that come with panic and anxiety attacks, which allows you to learn how to handle these responses and not be overwhelmed by them in other situations, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
Have a conversation with yourself. Our anxiety will tell us that the absolute worst can and will happen. Ask yourself, “Would this negative thing really happen? Or is it just my anxiety?” This challenges the fears you may have and gives you the opportunity to control them.
Controlling your breathing helps your anxiety. Deep breathing physically calms you down when you are feeling anxious, and there are several forms of deep breathing that you can do to calm your mind and relax your body.
Box breathing is a method used by Navy SEALs and is called “box breathing” because a box has four sides. The number four is what you will be counting to during this form of breathing. You breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds. It goes by other names, too, such as equal breathing. Box breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system – the part of your nervous system responsible for digestion and rest – and breaks us out of “fight or flight” mode.
Another type of breathing is 4-7-8 breathing. This breathing helps you relax deeply and calm your nerves. The way this breathing works is that you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
When we are in an anxious state, our thoughts are very jumbled up, and it can be hard to ground ourselves. Writing our thoughts down can help us with this. Writing what makes us anxious makes that thing less stressful. As a matter of fact, journaling helps to improve our moods, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, by:
A form of holistic medicine, aromatherapy employs the use of oils created by plant extracts – essential oils – to promote physical, mental, and spiritual health. Aromatherapy has several health benefits, according to studies, including:
The essential oils that actively help with anxiety are:
One of the ways you can use these essential oils is through an oil diffuser, or even dabbing some on certain areas of your body.
These are some short-term ways to cope with anxiety, but what about coping with anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)? For long-term anxiety, you need long-term coping mechanisms.
Short-term coping skills are typically for situational anxieties. There are cases, however, where someone is dealing with anxiety daily. As opposed to being anxious about the first day at a new job, this person would be anxious about coming into their job every day even though they’ve been there for two years. This would be classified as an anxiety disorder, and they are more common than you may think. According to KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), 26.6% of adults in the Blue Hen State suffer from anxiety/depressive symptoms. We see the need for anxiety treatment in Delaware, so it is important to discuss how to cope when you are living with anxiety.
The body and mind work together. Your physical health can impact your mental health, and certain preservatives, artificial flavorings, and processed foods can trigger anxiety and affect your mood. Certain herbal supplements may help reduce anxiety, but be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
To help with anxiety, some of the changes you can make to your diet include:
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being fully present and aware of the present moment. This helps us look at our anxious thoughts as just passing “thoughts.” Mindfulness meditation helps us focus on what we are doing in that moment and is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety, according to research.
It is also one of the simplest ways to reduce anxiety because of how easily it can be done. One of the most common methods of mindfulness meditation is sitting down in a quiet place and just labeling thoughts as “thinking.” It can take some time to label these thoughts without dwelling on them, but you will get better with practice.
This will be the easiest and hardest part of long-term coping. That’s because you need to identify what makes you anxious and learn how to deal with those triggers. Some triggers are obvious, like a poor diet or something like caffeine. However, the harder part is examining the more subtle triggers.
Certain long-term triggers can take some time to figure out. For example, let’s say you are anxious about work. Is it the location? Is it your manager? Is it your coworkers? There are several variables that can contribute to your anxiety, and you can figure it out on your own or with the aid of friends and a therapist.
Once you identify the triggers, you can make the necessary adjustments to your life to limit exposure to those triggers. Certain things, such as a financial situation, you won’t be able to limit exposure to, so it would be best to use your short-term coping skills frequently.
One of the most well-known forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven to help with anxiety. CBT’s goal is to have people examine their thoughts and reevaluate them in light of reality. CBT involves changing two patterns: thinking and behavioral. According to the APA, CBT involves using these strategies to change thinking patterns:
To change behavioral patterns, CBT uses these strategies:
SUN Behavioral Delaware is here to help you find coping strategies for anxiety. Located in Georgetown, Delaware, our goal is to meet the needs of those who suffer from mental illness. We do our absolute best to help our community shine brightly. Call (302) 205-0309 to start your treatment today.
The 3-3-3 rule is a method that can help ground you when you’re struggling with anxiety. First, you look around and name three things you see. After that, name three sounds you hear. Lastly, move three parts of your body. The 3-3-3 rule can help you regain control of yourself and relax your body.
One of the fastest ways to calm your anxiety is by deep breathing. Certain breathing techniques, such as box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing, are designed to help you relax and relieve anxiety. With box breathing, you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold for four seconds. With 4-7-8 breathing, you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
Some natural ways to overcome anxiety include keeping your diet and nutrition in check, learning your specific triggers and how to limit exposure to them, and meditating. Short-term natural ways to overcome anxiety include writing your thoughts down, practicing deep breathing, and even going on a short walk.
There are several different coping strategies that help with anxiety. Some of the short-term coping strategies for anxiety include questioning your thoughts, practicing deep breathing, and using aromatherapy. Some long-term strategies include eating a balanced and nutritious diet, practicing mindfulness meditation, and getting cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) from a licensed therapist.