Strategies for Reducing and Alleviating Anxiety
I always encourage clients to try all of these at least a couple of times. Sometimes trying it once may not feel comfortable because it’s something new, but if you try it again you may find it’s helpful. Ultimately, only use what works for you. Think of this as your tool box. Sometimes you only need a hammer, but other times you need a hammer and a wrench. Maybe you’ll never use the saw. The tools are there when you need them.
Distraction: Do anything that usually makes you feel good. Listen to music, go for a walk, watch TV or a movie, explore nature, play an instrument if you’re a musician, etc.
· Deep breathing: Our normal breaths during the day are short and shallow. They’re getting just enough oxygen that our body needs. Instead, take at least five long, deep breaths once an hour. Inhale in slowly for 5 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds, exhale slowly for 5 seconds. Repeat.
· Positive affirmations: I know this may sound corny, but they do work. Say out loud or in your mind “I feel good,” “I’m OK,” “I’m strong,” “I’ll get through this” and anything else that will help. Even when you don't feel good or are not doing OK, saying these things to yourself can change the pattern of thoughts in your mind to positive ones.
· Family/Friend(s) support: Spend time with loved ones and friends.
· Journaling: There’s something powerful about writing. When you’re ruminating, the same thoughts are going around and around in your head. Writing them down is a way to sometimes break the cycle. And if you don’t want to keep a journal, just grab some paper, write, and then shred it. The point is not the product, the point is the release.
· Meditation: I recommend taking a class for this or finding some resources on the web.
· Yoga: I also recommend taking a class or finding some resources on the web.
· Other exercise, especially interacting with others.
· Massage therapy: In addition to helping with any physical health issues such as chronic back pain, massage therapy can help with anxiety, stress and other mental health issues through relaxation.
· Therapy with a mental health professional: Among other things, a therapist can help you better manage and even alleviate excess anxiety by you: (a) developing skills in how to deal with demanding supervisors, including assertive communication that sets appropriate boundaries with work load, and by managing expectations of your supervisors, (b) building your self-confidence, (c) understanding the effect these outside negative forces have on you, and discovering how your own internal issues add to the difficulties, (d) supporting you in creating career and life goals, (e) reestablishing hope in your life, and (f) ultimately improving the quality of your life.
· Medication: If you’ve tried all of my recommendations and others, maybe it’s time to see a doctor (psychiatrist) to discuss other possible options. There are two types of medication for mental health issues: one you take every day to keep your day-to-day baseline anxiety lower, and one you take as needed during the difficult times.
· Incorporate some together: While you’re journaling, do deep breathing. While you’re meditating, do some positive affirmations. Whatever works for you is what’s important.
I hope you found this article helpful. Working on your mental health can be difficult work, but you can feel better and improve the quality of your life and find lasting happiness.