The Four Fastest Ways to Squash Anxiety

Anxiety is a really common issue, and it’s one that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. People often chalk it up to being “high strung” or a “worrier” when, in reality, anxiety can become debilitating. If that’s the case, it’s time to talk to a professional. But for more manageable anxiety, I’ve found that there are some steps you can take to help yourself relax.

I’ve been known to lie awake in bed at night, worrying about things that have already happened, may happen, and probably won’t happen. Though I still wrestle with bouts of anxiety, I’ve learned a few strategies that have helped me to cope:

  • Verbalize your fears: Fears are powerful, regardless of how realistic they are. They get even more intense when they’re allowed to roam in your head without boundaries. When I was younger I went to a therapist because of my anxiety. She had me verbalize my worst fears. For a while, it was hard to even say them. But once I began to talk about them, it took some of the scariness and power out of them. If you’re terrified about losing your job, talk to someone about it. If you’re worried about never finding love, express that worry. Whether you write it in a journal, talk to a trusted friend or family member, or see a professional, voicing these concerns helps to make them less all-consuming. You may even find that you’re worrying about something that just won’t happen.
  • Take care of yourself: When I’m dealing with a bad bout of anxiety, I have a hard time sleeping. Because of this, I’m tired all the time. I skip the gym, snack mindlessly, and continually obsess over my worries.  In other instances I’ll push myself too hard and end up feeling even more tired and rundown. When you’re really stressed out, it’s important to treat yourself well, almost as if you’re recovering from the flu. Let yourself take a nap, eat a little dessert, get a manicure, and watch a few hours of mindless TV. You can ease up on your intense exercise regimen, but make sure you’re getting out and moving regularly (it’ll help you to feel better). By taking care of yourself, you’ll start to relax and get back into a normal routine.
  • Do something productive: When you’re really stressed out, it’s easy to do nothing but worry. You know that saying “worry is like a rocking chair”? It’s true. You may think you’re going somewhere as you sit and freak out, but you’re not actually doing anything beneficial. Instead, take that nervous energy and put it toward something positive. Whether it’s applying to a new job, finally starting that blog you’ve been thinking about, or reconnecting with a friend, taking some positive action helps to shift your focus away from mindless worry. You’ll feel inspired and motivated, and can start to kick some of the negativity.
  • Trust yourself: I don’t know about you, but I have a way of always assuming the worst. If I’m giving a presentation, I assume I’ll embarrass myself. If I’m going on a trip, I assume the flight will be canceled and I’ll be stuck in an airport for three days. While it’s always good to be prepared, you also have to just trust yourself and the situations you may encounter. So maybe I will freeze during a presentation. I have to trust that I’m smart enough to figure out how to keep going. So maybe I will get stuck in an airport. I’m resourceful enough to find a way to save the trip. When you have self-confidence, you feel more comfortable in letting things unfold, because you know you can adjust as needed.

Do you deal with anxiety? How do you cope?

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