Anxiety, the everyday mountain with which so many of us are faced with. The spectrum in which the intensity of this emotion reaches us can range from a subtle feeling of uncertainty to a paralyzing weight that can quiet literally halt our lives. It is a powerful emotion that requires tenderness, understanding and soothing to manage or overcome.

Here are the 10 top psychologically proven ways to manage anxiety:

1. Write the answers to your “What if’s…” down. Take a moment to get it all on paper. Name it to tame it.

If your worrying includes “What if…?” questions, answer them in writing by listing actionable behaviors and thoughts that would make a situation easier to manage. Write down your thoughts for later instead of repeating them in your mind. For example, if you worry too much to fall asleep, jot down your concerns on a notepad by the bed. You can always revisit them when you’re ready to be productive.

2. Eat a balanced diet.

The causes of anxiety and stress are complex. Some people do not eat properly due to their symptoms. Some people comfort eats with a lot of sugary snacks. … It is commonly known that a poor diet can lead to, or increase anxiety symptoms.

3. Try to not shut your anxiety down, but instead ask it if it is real?

Trying not to worry or telling yourself everything will be OK can have the unintended effect of causing you to worry more. When worrying becomes excessive, or if specific concerns are difficult to control, ask yourself a series of questions to evaluate the likelihood that your predictions will come true and how you’d cope if they do. Some examples: “How likely is it that this (bad thing) will happen?” “If it happens, what’s the worst outcome? The best outcome? The most likely outcome?” “What can I do to prevent this (bad thing) from happening?” “What can I do to cope?”

4. Accept that ambiguity is inevitable and make space for it in your life.

Learning to tolerate uncertainty is an important part of managing anxiety. No matter how much you prepare for the future, there will be unpredictable and uncontrollable events. The more you can accept this inevitability, the easier it will be to cope with surprises.

5. Be aware of what makes you feel anxious and then in small doses… Welcome it slowly into yourself. Conquer your fears.

Repeated exposure to a feared situation is one of the best ways to reduce avoidance behaviors. If you experience social anxiety around unfamiliar people, for example, give yourself more opportunities to meet new people and become comfortable with the process. Say hello to people you don’t know, chat with someone in the grocery checkout line, attend a party, take a class, or join a club. This exposure process will be uncomfortable at first, but with time and persistence, anxiety will decline.

6. Take note of your success and the steps you have made in overcoming your anxiety.

Keep track of your progress. Record keeping makes it easier to monitor the effectiveness of your anxiety reduction strategies. You’ll know what works and what doesn’t if you monitor anxiety triggers, beliefs, behaviors, anxiety reduction strategies, and changes in symptoms. Use a spreadsheet, notebook, or a smartphone app.

7. Try doing a body scan from head to toe and see where you can release tension. Actively relax all your muscles in your body and just sit in the relaxation for as long as you are able.

Progressive muscle relaxation exercises can help you to get reacquainted with physical relaxation, and it’s helpful to know how to relax your body when muscular tension due to anxiety becomes a problem.

8. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy. Now breathe. Allow your stomach to expand and chest to stay relaxed.

Diaphragmatic breathing is another physical strategy that can be used to relax in stressful situations. Attempt to breathe into the belly while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. Let your abdomen, rather than your chest, expand as you inhale.

9. If staying still isn’t an option in this moment, move through it.

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise or “cardio,” performed for over 20 minutes can reduce trait anxiety. But be patient–it can take a few months to see a meaningful effect.

10. Read and further educate yourself.

Pick up an excellent evidence-based self-help book like The Anxiety and Coping Workbook or work with a psychologist who practices cognitive behavior (CBT), which is particularly effective for treating anxiety disorders.

We are all navigating issues that no one else knows about. The amalgamation of this worlds weight can be too much for even the strongest of shoulders. Be gentle to one another, be kind to yourself and remember to breathe.

Find peace within yourself and that my friend is where serenity lies.

 

Written by Sara Bruno.

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