Anxiety is a common mental illness and it can feel isolating to those affected by it. If you experience anxiety, you know how much it can alter your day-to-day life. Seemingly simple tasks or interactions leave you feeling worried and upset.
You may avoid certain situations or places because of your anxiety. Those dreaded feelings of sweaty palms and a racing heart are commonplace — but you don’t want it to be. If these scenarios sound familiar, you aren’t alone.
Many people struggle to cope with anxiety, but it is something that can change. There are strategies you can implement into your daily routine to help you manage your anxiety more successfully.
1. Identify Your Triggers
There are many reasons someone may feel anxious. For some people, socializing and public speaking send them into a panic. For others, large, bustling crowds or busy grocery stores set it off. Whatever the case, anxiety triggers vary from person to person.
When it comes to coping with your anxiety, it helps to practice recognizing your triggers. This way, when you are in a vulnerable position, you can enact strategies to combat your anxiety.
Remember that you’re experiencing an anxiety trigger, and while your feelings are valid, the situation will pass. You will get through it, and as you learn and recognize your triggers, you may find them easier to cope with over time.
2. Write Your Thoughts Down
When you feel anxious, your mind races with worry and thoughts about what can go wrong. Or, you may feel prematurely anxious as you worry about an upcoming event. Whatever the case, anxiety makes us worry—and it’s healthy to get these thoughts out of our heads and down on paper.
By journaling your anxious thoughts, they may seem less daunting when you get them down on paper. If you’re worried about a situation or event, you can write down these worries. Once the situation comes and goes, you can write down how it played out and note differences between what you worried about and what actually happened.
Another strategy you can use is to work on coming with an alternative thought that challenges your negative thought. This could be another, more realistic way of thinking about the situation. Journaling in this way can make a big difference when dealing with anxious thoughts.
3. Get on a Better Sleep Schedule
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can exacerbate mental illnesses such as anxiety. You may wake up feeling anxious because you feel like you didn’t get enough sleep. This anxiety continues throughout the day and then follows you to bed later that night and can impact your ability to fall asleep. The relationship between sleep and anxiety quickly becomes a vicious cycle.
By taking steps to improve your sleep, you may also help your anxiety. Start by getting on a better sleep schedule. The most important step you can take to set up a schedule is to set a wake time that you can stick to every day, 7 days per week. Waking at different times and sleeping late on the weekends can make sleep and anxiety worse.
The next thing you can do to help your sleep is to get out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you are lying in bed with an anxious or racing mind, get out of bed and find a quiet activity that you can become engaged in. When you feel sleepy, you can get back in bed and try to sleep again.
By making these changes, you may end up getting less sleep in the short term, but your sleep will become more efficient and sleep will feel less stressful. You may notice a decrease in anxiety as well.
4. See a Therapist for Your Anxiety
While there are plenty of coping mechanisms to practice on your own, you may need professional help. Anxiety is difficult to cope with, and if you want to change how it affects your life, you need long-term solutions.
Therapy can help you make sense of your anxiety and find ways to cope. As you make sense of your anxiety and learn more about your triggers, you can move forward with a sense of empowerment.