How to Cope with Anxiety Effectively

We are designed to feel anxiety. Anxiety is protective because it helps us survive by warning us of dangers.

Everyone experiences anxiety, although some of us get so anxious that we wonder if we can handle it. And sometimes our anxiety may be unreliable, giving us false alerts.

Luckily, there are a number of relatively simple, effective, and inexpensive ways to deal with anxiety.

These include:

  • Get enough sleep, 7-9 hours for adults, more for teens and children.
  • Get regular exercise. Even just walking is great.
  • Spend quality face time with friends and family.
  • Spend less time on electronic devices.
  • Care for a pet and experience being loved by a pet.
  • Practice mindfulness, whether it's meditation, yoga, tai chi, or walking with focus on your surroundings.
  • Adopt healthy routines.
  • Interrupt unhelpful habits.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Set attainable, measurable goals for yourself.
  • Take control of those things you can control and let go of those things you can't control.
  • Label or categorize your emotions and thoughts, such as "I'm feeling sad," "Wow, I'm stressed!" or "There's an obsessive thought!"
  • Practice gratitude, express appreciation.
  • Take one day—or just one second—at a time.

Feeling anxious? Review the list to see what you're missing. Sometimes anxiety isn't this simple but, even then, these seemingly small details really do matter.

Using alcohol or illicit drugs to calm ourselves may give short-term relief but generally add to our anxiety long-term. Prescribed medications can help and are sometimes necessary, but many of us won’t need them to feel less anxious.

If you've tried to curb your anxiety on your own and you're still having trouble, or if the anxiety feels overwhelming, seek help from a psychotherapist. Sometimes we need to talk things out with someone who listens well and provides useful feedback. Biofeedback, such as heart rate variability training or neurofeedback, can also help. I'd be happy to meet with you.

This article explains many of these anxiety-reducing skills.