Anxiety…5 Coping Skills for Controlling Your Anxiety
Living with anxiety can feel like you are not living at all. You may feel panicked when doing the most simple tasks such as going to the grocery store or taking your kids to school. Leaving your home may feel like a chore that you try to put off for as long as possible. It can be challenging to explain your anxiety to those around you, especially if they have never experienced it themselves. Many will tell you that your fears are irrational and while that may be true, it doesn’t help you overcome them. The key to living your life with anxiety is to find coping skills that will get you through the panic and back into the world. Here are five coping skills that will help you relax and work through an anxiety attack.
Breathing may seem the simplest thing in the world. Most people, however, do not breathe properly to promote relaxation and focus. One of the most important things to do when suffering from an anxiety attack is to breathe. While you may feel that you are short of breath or have a tightness in your chest, breathing can help.
The key to proper breathing for relaxation is time. When breathing during an anxiety attack, it is essential to inhale slowly for at least six seconds, hold it for four seconds, and exhale slowly for at least five seconds. This timing allows your body to take in oxygen while you focus on something other than your fears.
Using breathing as a coping skill for anxiety may not work for every anxiety attack but, it is an excellent first choice as it is easy and can be done anywhere you are. Many professionals that treat anxiety patients recommend you practice when you are not having an attack so that you are ready when one does occur. Practicing while you are relaxed can make breathing more effective at calming an anxiety attack.
2. Positive Self-Talk
Many people suffering from an anxiety attack don’t realize that their self-talk is feeding their fears. Think about the last time you had an anxiety attack. What were the thoughts that were running through your mind? Were you dwelling on the negative things that have happened or could happen? If so, this is called negative self-talk. Telling yourself you can’t do something, or dwelling on the bad things that could happen, will only serve to prolong an anxiety attack. The good news is with practice you can turn that negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
When in the throes of an anxiety attack it is essential to focus on positivity to get through it. For example, you are sitting on the couch getting ready to leave. You begin to feel the beginnings of anxiety. You stop and contemplate just staying home to avoid the whole situation. Instead of canceling your plans, pause for a moment and tell yourself you can do this. If you’re afraid of driving, you can focus on all the times you have driven and arrived safely at your destination. One technique that some professionals use is to have patients remind themselves that they are bigger than their fears.
3. Physical Activity
In many cases, anxiety can cause an overabundance of energy which, without an outlet, will build up until it explodes into an anxiety attack. Being physically active can keep that excess energy in check while also helping you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many people find that taking a walk when they become anxious can help calm them down while others need a run or a trip to the local gym.
Being physically active releases chemicals within the brain that help with mood stabilization, which can help with both anxiety and depression. Most medical professionals will recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day to improve your physical health as well as your mental well-being.
Most people hear the word meditation and imagine sitting on the floor, legs crossed, hands on knees, and eyes closed. While this may work for some, others may not have the time or space to do that while having an anxiety attack. However, you can meditate easily anywhere you are. There are apps for both iPhone and Android devices that are specifically to help calm and soothe anxiety. One highly recommended app is the Calm app. It is an app that features relaxation music, nature sounds, and guided meditation that doesn’t require you to sit on the floor.
Some people find that laying in bed or sitting in a chair, closing their eyes and thinking of their favorite place, relaxes them tremendously. Others find that their form of meditation is listening to their favorite band while coloring or painting. Adult coloring books were likely made popular by those who suffer from anxiety or depression. Many professionals recommend them daily to their patients.
While you may feel that most people do not understand what it is like to suffer from debilitating anxiety, talking about your fears with someone you trust can help you work through them. Create a support system that you can rely on when an anxiety attack strikes. Family, close friends, a church group, or even an anxiety support group can all help calm an anxiety attack. Most times being alone can make an anxiety attack worse. Be sure the people you choose as your support system know that the signs can differ with each attack, and explain what you may need from them during an episode, as most people are unsure what to do or say.
If you are unsure what triggered your anxiety, to begin with, it may help to talk to a therapist or counselor as well. Working through past life events may help you to control your anxiety by understanding it.
There are hundreds of coping skills to use to control anxiety. These are the five most commonly used by individuals. You may find that one of these may work during one attack but not another attack. Having a variety of coping skills to choose from is important in controlling anxiety attacks so that they do not control you. It is possible to live a happy life with anxiety if you have the right tools to manage your anxiety.