Are you someone who struggles with anxiety? Believe it or not, even the most relaxed and steady person you know has their anxious moments. Feeling nervous, restless, and irritable when you’re worried about something is part of being human, and it’s totally normal. Anxiety only becomes a problem when it interferes with your life, like your ability to be productive at work or your enjoyment of time spent with loved ones. Here I’ll explain more about what “being anxious” means and share some smart ways to cope with anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
As I mentioned, anxiety is a normal part of the human condition, no matter what your personality is like. You might feel short-term anxiety when you’re about to interview for a new job, give a big presentation at work, or meet a blind date for coffee. You may also have anxiety about issues that are less immediate, but equally important, like your savings account, your health, your relationship, or the general state of the world. Life can be uncertain, and it’s natural to worry about the things you don’t feel you can control.
That said, if your anxiety has started to interfere with your daily life, then it’s probably time to take steps to manage it. If you constantly feel agitated, restless, or panicked, that’s a sign that you’re chronically anxious. Other signs of anxiety include digestive issues like acid reflux (heartburn), insomnia, and exhaustion. It can be a terrible feeling, but you’re not powerless to stop it. Let’s check out some easy strategies for relieving your stress. They won’t necessarily eliminate your anxiety altogether, but they can help you to manage it better.
Five Ways to Cope With Anxiety
You can never go wrong with some gentle yoga! If you’ve never given it a try, check out these eleven poses for anxiety relief. They don’t require insane strength, flexibility, or technique, so you can do them even if you’re a total beginner. The mental health benefits of yoga include reduced anger and anxiety, better sleep, and an overall improved mood. So, unroll a yoga mat (or just find your fluffiest towel) and prepare to breathe, stretch, and release. There’s a reason the practice has been around for thousands of years. If you feel more relaxed after your session, try making it one of your daily habits.
Experiment With Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, to help people relieve stress, depression, anxiety, and even physical pain. It’s a meditative practice that helps you center yourself in the present moment and be more self-aware. You can take Kabat-Zinn’s course on MasterClass or enroll in an eight-week class on Mindful Leader if you’d like to immerse yourself in the MBSR technique. But you can also experiment with MBSR strategies proven to reduce anxiety on your own. Even a few minutes of meditation can make a positive difference in your day.
Learn the Art of Aromatherapy
You have probably heard people who sell essential oils insist that you can use them to cure anything and everything. While I’d caution you to approach some of the more outrageous claims with a healthy dose of skepticism, these oils do have some nice benefits. Try diffusing lavender oil before bedtime to help you decompress and get a good night’s sleep. Likewise, to boost your mood in the morning, enjoy the fresh, citrusy scent of lemon oil. Be sure you’re using essential oils safely by diluting them with a carrier oil first.
Get Your Daily Exercise
One of the easiest ways to bust through your stress is to head out for a brisk walk or jog through your neighborhood. Evidence shows that getting up and moving your body can help you to reduce anxiety and depression and work through your feelings. Aim for thirty minutes of exercise five to seven days a week for great results. If you’re able to go for a hike or bike ride on a beautiful trail, you’ll enjoy even more mental health benefits. And if there’s a day that you’re just too tired or distracted to pound the pavement, don’t beat yourself up.
Talk It Out With a Friend
When was the last time you called (not texted) one of your best friends just to gab and catch up? Having good friends can help you reduce your stress level and feel happier. It’s not always easy to reach out and make plans when you’re not feeling great, but connecting with a good buddy can make all the difference in the world. So make a regular date for coffee or drinks (or, if you’re currently long-distance, set up a Zoom or FaceTime session once a week). Life is much better with friends.
What Is Psychotherapy?
There are times when everything you’re trying doesn’t seem to be enough, and that’s when it’s time to seek professional help. If your anxiety is consistent and pervasive, it’s important that you talk to a mental health expert about the possibility that you have an anxiety disorder. If you don’t know where to start, speak with your primary care provider about how you’ve been feeling. He or she can recommend a psychiatrist — a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. You may also benefit from psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” which entails discussing your concerns with a psychologist, social worker, or trained counselor.
Mental illness is still very much stigmatized in our society, and many people are reluctant to admit to themselves (let alone anyone else) that they need help. Please don’t feel that your anxiety is a personal weakness or a flaw in your character. Life moves fast, and sometimes it’s difficult to stay on top of our stress. You owe it to yourself to get the help you need and enjoy a happier and more relaxed life.
No matter where you land on the anxiety spectrum, please take good care of yourself, whether it’s through the tips we’ve outlined above or with professional help.