Best coping methods for anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people sometimes experience prolonged periods of anxiety that can affect their social, work, or personal lives. People can try various methods to help them cope.
In some cases, anxiety can become a disorder. Anxiety disorders occur when the feelings of anxiety and worry are both persistent and highly disruptive. People with anxiety disorders usually require treatment.
Keep reading to learn more about some of the best ways to manage and cope with anxiety.
Identifying the cause of anxiety
There are plenty of reasons why someone may feel anxious, including:
- work-related stress
- financial troubles
- health problems
- drug use
- social relationships
Some health conditions may increase anxiety. For example, someone with chronic pain might experience regular anxiety.
Certain situations can also trigger symptoms. Some people find that job interviews cause high levels of anxiety, for instance. However, this type of anxiety, which people may refer to as situational, is usually temporary.
In some cases, underlying health problems might cause symptoms similar to those of anxiety. For example, some conditions cause heart palpitations or sweating.
Quick coping techniques
It is helpful to have a few coping techniques for dealing with anxiety or worry. Here are some examples of quick coping methods that might help:
This simple technique is easy to learn and apply when feeling anxious.
Some people react to anxious situations by breathing faster, which can worsen stress and anxiety. Consciously slowing the breathing down can control the anxiety.
The technique for this involves:
- breathing in slowly through the nose
- holding the breath in for several seconds
- breathing out slowly
- repeating a few times until the anxiety reduces and the heart rate returns to normal
An older study by researchers at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas found that capnometry-assisted respiratory training reduced symptom severity in people with panic disorder.
Capnometry-assisted respiratory training is a type of breathing therapy that promotes slow, mindful breathing. The participants performed breathing exercises twice a day in this study. Panic disorder is different than anxiety, but the conditions share some symptoms.
Learn more about breathing techniques here.
It takes time to master meditation, but it can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety.
A 2018 study found that a single meditation session significantly reduced anxiety levels, as well as decreasing the physical stress on the arteries.
Other relaxation techniques
Activities such as yoga or tai chi are also helpful for promoting relaxation and helping reduce anxiety and stress.
When someone is feeling anxious about a situation or task ahead of them, guided imagery can help. This practice involves imagining completing the task that is causing anxiety calmly and successfully.
For instance, imagining finishing an important meeting or event before it happens can reduce anxiety about it.
Some people also find it beneficial to visualize an environment in which they feel safe and relaxed.
Long-term coping techniques
Some anxiety coping strategies take time to produce results. Here are a few ways to manage anxiety in the long run:
- Stress management: Managing stress using a variety of methods is one way to reduce overall anxiety levels. Stress management might include regularly practicing meditation or slow breathing exercises.
- Lifestyle changes: A healthful lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good quality sleep can help improve people’s mental well-being.
- Talking to others: It can be helpful to speak with others, such as friends, family members, or a therapist, about anxiety or its causes.
Long-term coping techniques can help prepare someone for stressful situations and events. They might make a person less likely to experience severe anxiety over time.
When is anxiety harmful?
Some people have severe or very frequent anxious reactions to situations and events. If the symptoms start to affect someone’s social, work, or personal life, this may indicate an anxiety disorder.
Severe anxiety can cause people to avoid certain situations or environments. For example, someone may stop going for job interviews or social events to avoid feelings of anxiety.
People with agoraphobia have an irrational fear of places that might be difficult to escape. It can cause some people to stop leaving their home.
Anxiety becomes problematic when it is not proportionate to the situation or is persistent and disruptive.
When and how to seek help
If someone is experiencing anxiety that is becoming disruptive, and coping strategies are not working, they should seek professional help.
Seeing a doctor is a good first step. The doctor can help evaluate the person’s symptoms and refer them to a mental health professional, if necessary.
A mental health professional may suggest any of the following treatments:
- individual psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- group therapy
- psychiatric medication
It is normal for someone to experience anxiety in response to stressful events and situations.
There are several ways to deal with anxiety, including quick techniques to calm anxious thoughts and feelings. Long-term coping mechanisms might include maintaining a healthful lifestyle.
People who experience regular anxiety might require treatment. In cases where anxiety has become disruptive to normal life, it might be a sign of an anxiety disorder.