Stress is a normal part of life; it gives you the energy to focus a little harder when studying for that big exam, prepare more thoroughly before a high-stakes job interview, or taking care of a new baby.
But it’s important to distinguish between those times when stress gives you a much-needed boost of energy to help you successfully manage a challenge or threat, and those times when your mind/body are reacting to a stress response with anxiety--namely you are starting to react to the stress more than to the challenge or threat itself.
Your anxiety might start teetering on the side of unproductive when it seems that it is disproportionate to the stressor it is reaction to.
Anxiety can take on a life of its own if not proactively managed. Take control of your anxiety right now. Here’s how:
1. Understand your anxiety
By thoroughly understanding the source of your anxiety, you can release its tight grip on you. It might be tempting to simply avoid stressful situations entirely, but long term avoidance is counterproductive. It’s a lot more effective to accept your feelings of anxiety when they arise, identify the source and whether or not it actually does pose a threat, and wait for the feelings to pass (easier said than done, but one of our expert therapists will help you master).
Exercising is a highly effective way to reduce anxiety. To regularly keep feelings of anxiety in check, try to get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Maybe take a brisk 30-minute walk 5 times a day. Alternatively, you could strive for 1 ¼ hours of high-intensity exercise each week; try jogging or swimming laps. The important thing is to find an activity that you actually like and do it frequently.
3. Relaxation techniques
There are almost as many relaxation coping strategies as there are anxiety producing situations. Try deep breathing, which involves taking deep, measured breaths in through your nose, then holding your breath for a few seconds before slowly letting it out through your mouth. You can also try physical relaxation techniques, such as deliberately tensing all the muscles in your body and then releasing the tension. Take a hot bath, listen to classical music, watch baby animal videos on YouTube. There’s no shortage of strategies you can try. (click here for a free 30-minute body scan meditation recording by Dr. Krieger).
4. Lifestyle adjustments
Sometimes, simple lifestyle adjustments can greatly reduce anxiety. These might include eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough restorative sleep, making a schedule and sticking to it, even leaving a job or relationship that consistently causes you undue anxiety.
5. Reach out
You don’t have to manage alone. Call a friend or schedule an appointment with one of Oasis’ expert therapists today. Oftentimes, the act of connecting to another person, putting your thoughts into words, and sharing your feelings can do wonders for relieving anxiety. Know that it’s okay to seek help and support.