Everyone has a lot on their minds at the moment, especially due to cost of living crisis, Covid, and the war in Ukraine. But let’s face it, there is always something going on in the world that makes us worry. If it’s not world issues, it’s something in our personal lives, to do with family, friends or work. Many of us are struggling to sleep at night because of anxiety and the problem appears to be getting worse. Whilst it’s very normal to feel worried sometimes, if it gets out of hand, it can cause real problems. Not dealing with the worry in an effective way can lead to health problems, both mental and physical. If this sounds like something you are coping with at the moment, I’m going to talk about some strategies to cope with anxiety that should help.
Strategies to cope with anxiety are part of your self-care routine
If you find yourself trapped in a never ending cycle of overthinking you may be experiencing an increased heart rate because of the adrenaline you are producing. This then can lead to issues like insomnia, so breaking that habit and focusing on handling your anxiety and worry is a key part of self-care.
Here are 6 easy strategies to cope with anxiety
1. Start writing a diary
On a daily basis, jot down any worries that are seriously bothering you. Underneath the worries make a note of any proof that supports why you are worrying. Make sure you are honest with yourself. It’s possible you may find there is no evidence to back up your worry and therefore, is it something really worth worrying about? Writing down your thoughts can help to clarify what’s going in your on in your head. Almost like a computer download. By seeing it in words, you may realise it’s not as big a deal as you thought. You can then clearly and logically decide on a plan of action if needed.
Don’t forget to also write down things you are happy about and that you are grateful for. This will help to put the worries into perspective, encourage a positive mindset and in turn calm your anxiety.
2. Don’t allow negative thoughts to control you
This is not one of the most obvious strategies to cope with anxiety but a really good one. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts force your mind to focus on more positive things. Distract yourself with jobs around your house or something as simple as playing with your pet. When I feel sad or stressed, I find cuddling my cat very therapeutic. Practise mindfulness and focus on the small details of what you are doing. This will leave no room in your thoughts for anything negative. A hobby such as painting, or gardening is also a super way to calm your mind. Therapeutic gardening is one of my passions for this very reason. I use it as a method of resetting my mind when life is getting overwhelming.
3. Get yourself out and about
Keeping fit is one of the most effective strategies to cope with anxiety. By exercising, you are releasing endorphins which make you feel happier and more relaxed. Going for a run or even a short walk is a fantastic strategy for coping with anxiety. If you like yoga or Pilates, this can be a great distraction or even dancing around your kitchen with the radio on. I love a kitchen disco 😉.
Keep reading for more easy strategies to cope with anxiety…..
4. Confront any worries
It’s very easy for us all to just say we are worriers by nature. But if you can train yourself to not accept that and learn to fight back you can gain control of your mind and not allow yourself to feel so worried and anxious. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe but there are ways to control your thoughts. Take the positive step to acknowledge that there is an issue bothering you and make the conscious decision to deal with it. Don’t be a victim of your own negative self-talk.
5. Alter your diet
Avoiding drinks that contain caffeine is an easy strategy to cope with anxiety, as this can automatically make you feel a bit wired. If you are a big coffee drinker swap your morning coffee for a chamomile tea maybe? Start your day in a calm manner and it will hopefully continue that way.
Add foods to your diet that help with relaxing your muscles such as foods high in magnesium and fatty fish which have the ability to lower your stress levels.
Keep a good balance of your blood sugar levels. Especially if you are known to have low blood sugar now and then. If you feel that you are sensing anxiety or mild panic it may be because your levels have dropped too far. Keep a snack bar in your handbag, just in case and make sure you eat small meals regularly.
6. Breath your anxiety away
One of my favourite strategies to cope with anxiety is this breathing technique offered by The National Health Service on their website:
This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine.
You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor.
Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
If you’re lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
If you’re sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
If you’re sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you’re in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
- Then let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
- Keep doing this for at least 5 minutes.
Before choosing your strategies to cope with anxiety take the worry test
A psychotherapist called Ali Moore, during an interview in Woman and Home Magazine, outlined a very simple test you can do to see if you are worrying too much:
- Do you get tired easily but struggle to sleep?
- Do you often find it difficult to concentrate?
- Do you have tension in your muscles?
- Do minor things often spiral into major concerns?
- Once it starts, is your worrying hard to stop?
“If you answer ‘yes’ to at least two of the questions above then you may suffer from excessive worry.”
If you find your anxiety or stress getting to a level where you are struggling to cope and none of these strategies are working then it may be time to contact your healthcare provider for some advice.