By: Grace Gufler
Anxiety symptoms can feel overwhelming, isolating and suffocating. The symptoms of anxiety can make daily life tasks difficult to accomplish and can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Many people feel helpless or lost when it comes to managing their symptoms of anxiety. This blog post will offer 5 coping skills to help you manage your symptoms of anxiety.
- Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness helps in managing symptoms of anxiety because it will improve your ability to stay present and teaches skills to manage negative or intrusive thoughts. Practicing mindfulness for even 10 minutes a day will improve your ability to stay grounded and focused in the present. For some more tips on mindfulness, check out our blog post from last week!
- Sensory: This coping skill works by diverting your attention back to the present moment through the engagement of your senses. This is helpful for anxiety symptoms related to racing thoughts or feelings of restlessness. Here are some examples: hold an ice cube, rub your feet against the carpet, describe the colors you see around you or name 5 things you can hear.
- Gratitude exercise: This coping skill is helpful for anxiety symptoms related to negative self-talk, difficulty experiencing joy, or recognizing the positives of your day. For this exercise, you want to write down, or think of, at least 3 things that you are grateful for that are specific to that day. Try to think of specific experiences to avoid generalizing or creating a ‘it could be worse’ list. An example of a generalized gratitude expression is “I am thankful I am healthy”. Instead, try to include the experiences of your day. Such as “I am thankful for my health which allowed me to take a long walk after work to decompress.” This will help increase your awareness of the positive experiences of your day and can be a helpful tool to utilize when struggling with negative self-talk or anxious thoughts.
- Journal: This is one of my favorite coping skills because it is helpful on so many levels. Journaling is a great outlet for anxious thoughts that get stuck in our head, to process an anxiety-inducing event, keep track of anxiety triggers and so much more. I don’t like to set rules for journaling so that it does not lose its’ benefits by becoming a chore. You don’t have to write every day if you don’t want to! Write when it is helpful and meaningful to you.
- Challenge Thoughts: This coping skill is a little more complex and may take some practice. To challenge an anxious thought ask yourself: is it true, is it valid and is it fair? Here is an example: say I just had an anxious thought of ‘I am a bad friend.’ First, I would ask myself if this thought was true. In other words, what evidence do I have that supports this thought? A lot of anxious thoughts come from generalizing; I have one example of being bad so, therefore, this must be true. This invalidates all the other experiences I have in my life where I have been a good friend. Lastly, you want to ask yourself if you are being fair. Most often, anxious thoughts can come from a place of judgment or unrealistic expectations. Remember, you are human! There have been times where I have been a bad friend, but there are a lot more times where I have been a good friend. Challenging thoughts can be difficult to do but it is a great skill in managing your anxiety.
I hope this blog post helps you navigate feelings or symptoms of anxiety and feel more confident in your ability to manage anxiety in your daily life. Anxiety can be difficult to cope with and you are not alone if you are struggling to do so. Therapy is a great avenue to learn life long skills to help you learn how to cope with feelings of anxiety on your own. If you would like to set up a therapy appointment for help with anxiety, please reach out to one of our therapists! We are offering virtual therapy to continue to offer support during COVID-19.