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It takes a really strong person to cope with a mental illness like anxiety on a daily basis. Finding ways to manage anxiety can be unbelievably difficult.
If you’re one of those people, I just want to say: I see you, I understand what you’re going through, and you’re a strong and beautiful person. Keep doing what you’re doing because you’re carrying a weight on your shoulders that a lot of people don’t understand. That also goes for people with depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and everything in between.
I have suffered from anxiety since I was about 18 years old. (So the past 6 years.) I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depression.
I’ve been taking medication for my anxiety for about the past 3 years.
There are many medications out there to help with illnesses like this (some of which are helpful and others, not so much) but sometimes the medication isn’t enough.
BUT whether you take medication or not – here are 40 ways to manage anxiety!
- Light a lavender candle or spray some lavender oil around your house. Lavender is known for its calming effects on the mind, and it can really help get anxiety under control. I was suggested this by a counselor that I used to see.
- Get a good night’s sleep and take a nap if (and when) you need to. Sometimes sleep is all it takes to get any emotional problems you may be suffering under control. Because sleep is important for almost every area of our lives!
- Get some exercise. You probably don’t need to be told how important exercise is for both the body and the mind. So, try to exercise at least 2-3 times per week!
- Practice meditation regularly. Also, meditate when anxiety strikes. This is one of the most helpful ways to manage anxiety for me. Meditation is literally almost like a magic pill when it comes to anxiety, at least for some people.
- Try talking to someone who will understand. Or try reaching out to someone else with anxiety so you can help each other.
- Be mindful of your triggers. If you don’t know what they are, try to pay attention to what things seem to regularly cause anxiety for you.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s important what you put into your body and some things can make your anxiety worse (or better!)
- Try not to control your anxiety too much. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it can be to try to ignore anxiety. But the more you focus on your anxiety and try to control it, the worse it can get.
- Read inspirational quotes, listen to upbeat music, or recite positive affirmations. Music, quotes, and affirmations can actually do a lot to change our state of mind. So, try to find ways to cheer yourself up and get happy.
- Try to do some self-therapy. Here’s a great workbook that I use – it’s a 7 week CBT program for self-therapy! (Review coming on the blog soon (:)
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings really helps. It’s also helpful to try to always keep your journal with you so you have it whenever you need it. (And here’s a list of bullet journal essentials for beginners!)
- Try not to drink too much alcohol. Try not to abuse any substances because that’s a quick way to feed your anxiety.
- Spend some time outside. Take a walk, sit outside and read, or just relax. Because sunlight + fresh air + nature = very therapeutic.
- Distract yourself. Read, watch a movie, play video games, or spend time doing one of your hobbies. Or try a new hobby! This is a great way to relax and distract yourself from anxiety.
- Try not to avoid the things that scare you. Challenging yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone can be one of the most helpful things for anxiety. But don’t bite off more than you can chew; you don’t want to make things worse. Challenge yourself in small steps and be patient.
- Don’t continue to only focus on the bad things. Focus on your blessings too and remember to be grateful for what you have.
- Read books, blogs, and anything else you can about anxiety. This is comforting; it helps you feel understood and realize that you’re not alone. Plus, it helps you understand the condition better. Here’s a super helpful book about anxiety that I own myself!
- If you’re comfortable with it, consider going to therapy or counseling. Talking about your problems with a professional can help.
- Breathe. Don’t force yourself to breathe or you may hyperventilate. Just pay attention to your breathing. Sometimes when we get worked up, we start taking short breaths or even holding our breath, which can make anxiety worse.
- Practice mindfulness. This is a great way to manage your anxiety. Being mindful allows you to live in the present moment instead of living in the past or being fearful of the future. If you want a good book for discovering mindfulness, I have two suggestions that helped me a lot: Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening.
- Spend some time investing in yourself. Learn something new. Have you been wanting to learn a new language, learn a creative skill, or start a business? Then spend the time (and/or money) on learning it! Read a book, take a course, or do whatever else you need to do.
- Lend a helping hand. I know that when I help people, it fills me with the best feeling. So volunteer in your community, offer to babysit for free for a single mother, or pay for someone’s meal in a drive-thru line. Because even something small can make you feel good.
- Take a relaxing bath. Baths can soothe your mind and body. Light a few candles, add some lavender oil to the water, drink some tea, and read a book.
- Avoid overthinking. Overthinking negative thoughts doesn’t help anything. All it does is overwhelm our minds and it can definitely cause anxiety. Instead, try visualizing positive things.
- Do something creative. Spending time on a creative hobby has a huge amount of benefits when it comes to our mental health. For example, they can distract us from what we’re feeling, help us express ourselves, put us in an almost meditative state, and more. Here’s a list of 30 creative hobby ideas for you to try!
- Drink plenty of water. Along with all of the other problems dehydration can cause, lack of water can affect your anxiety and screw with your hormones. So make sure you stay hydrated!
- Practice yoga. Yoga is very helpful in relaxing your body and mind. It has many other benefits too, and it only takes a few minutes a day.
- Read self-help books. One of the biggest things that have helped me manage my anxiety and decide to turn my life around is reading self-help books. So head to your local library and take a look around. And if you’re ever looking for suggestions, you can keep an eye on this blog for reviews!
- Limit your time on social media. Studies have shown that spending time on social media can raise a person’s levels of anxiety. If you feel like this happens to you, then limit your time on these sites or delete your profile altogether.
- Laugh at something. Laughter is shown to calm the body and mind, and increase the amount of oxygen we breathe in; all of these things improve anxiety. So watch a funny movie or video or spend time with someone who makes you laugh.
- Use positive self-talk. When you suffer from anxiety, you probably hear a lot of negative talk in your head. Instead of listening to these thoughts, flip them around and try to use positive self-talk instead.
- Plan ahead. Something that helps me manage my anxiety is preparing my day ahead of time. So grab a planner or notebook and write out your schedule and to-do list each day. (You can grab a free printable planner right here!)
- Tell yourself that you’re okay. If you’re having a panic attack (or any other symptom of anxiety) remind yourself that this has happened to you before, it’ll pass, and you’ll be okay. Because sometimes that’s all it takes to calm yourself down.
- Create a coping toolbox. I think that this is a pretty neat way to manage anxiety. Some people think it’s childish, but I think it’s actually pretty smart. You basically gather up everything that comforts you when you’re having a bout of anxiety so that you have it when you need it. You can read more about it here.
- Do a brain dump. I know that when I’m feeling anxious, I have about 4,365,269 thoughts running through my mind. Doing a brain dump helps with this. I grab a notebook and write down every thought that comes to my head. Then I look at the list and cross off anything that’s negative, unimportant, or out of my control. This helps me think more clearly and focus on one thing at a time. Plus, it helps me from forgetting any important things that I should remember.
- Soothe yourself. Self-soothing is a very helpful thing, so if you’re having an anxiety attack and you’re alone, you should totally try it. Here are tips for self-soothing your anxiety away.
- Set yourself goals. One thing that helps me feel better and distracts me from anxiety is setting myself goals and working towards them. Because this gives me something to work toward, helps me feel better about myself, and moves me closer to the life of my dreams!
- Develop a self-care routine. Self-care is super important when it comes to anxiety. So, developing a self-care routine is very effective because routines are comforting to anxiety-ridden minds. Try to do at least one thing every single day to help your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Pampering yourself can be very therapeutic too!
- Take a break. Let yourself off the hook once in a while. And on your bad days, give yourself permission to sit around in your pajamas and relax if you need to.
- Go easy on yourself. A lot of people struggle with anxiety and you’re only human. Some days are worse than others and that’s okay. Nobody is perfect, but you’ll be okay. <3
Don’t forget to grab the free printable!
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How do you feel about this list of 40 ways to manage anxiety? What helps you the most? Let’s chat in the comments!