Helpful Tips to Manage Anxiety
Updated: May 21, 2020
By: Dr. Katia Correa, PT, DPT
The time we are living in right now is full of uncertainty, fear, and stress. You may be feeling worried, anxious, or nervous sometimes. Those are normal reactions to dealing with and processing what is going on in the world. But if you are like me, sometimes those feelings tend to take over and increase our anxiety levels. To be honest, I have struggled with anxiety on and off for years now. Lately, I have found myself needing to slow down and review the ways I was taught to help manage anxiety.
Anxiety can affect your mood, body, thoughts, and feelings. It’s important to understand the signs of anxiety. Everyone can present differently but main symptoms may include:
Feeling restless or on edge
Muscle tension, aches or soreness
Shortness of breath
Lack of concentration
Increased feelings of fearfulness, anger, worry or general irritability
I want to share some tools you can use to help prevent anxiety or stop an anxiety attack. Taking care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising daily is one of the best defenses in preventing physical symptoms of anxiety. Your body needs proper fuel and nutrients, adequate time to rest and repair in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
One of the best tips I received about stopping an anxiety attack is to focus on your breathing. During an anxiety attack, our body goes into a heightened state of awareness, ramping up our sympathetic nervous system. Our heart starts racing, we become short of breath and may even feel faint. Now is the time to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths, breathing through your belly, and not your chest. You can even watch the slow rise and fall of your belly. This is called diaphragmatic breathing. It actually activates our parasympathetic nervous system to help calm us down.
Another tip I have found to help manage my anxiety is coloring to music. It may sound strange or childish to you, but from my own personal experience, being able to focus on the rhythmic motions of a pencil going up and down helps to relieve any anxiousness I may be feeling. Finding something to redirect your focus on is really the key. Whether that be coloring, reading a good book, listening to music, watching your favorite tv show, or getting outside to soak up some sun. Find something you enjoy doing!
My biggest go-to, whenever I fee my anxiety rising, is my dog. There is something so special about our pets that to me it feels like they can solve everything. I have a one-year-old golden retriever named Maverick. He has been such a help in maintaining my anxiety levels, especially with what has been going on in the world. Whether we’re playing fetch in the backyard, cuddled on the couch watching tv, or even just a car ride together, he has a way of slowing the world down for me.
Everyone deals with anxiety differently. Well, all have different triggers and different ways to cope. I hope by sharing with you some of my best ways to manage anxiety you are now better equipped to tackle any anxiety you may have.