10 Things You Can Do to Manage Anxiety

Eileen Bailey Health Guide

    Have you already set aside your New Year's resolutions? Millions of Americans make resolutions only to forget about them a few days or weeks later, even when they were so determined to create positive change only a short time before.


    Resolutions can fail for many different reasons. Instead, it may be better to begin adopting new habits. Make 2010 the year you make a few key changes to help in managing anxiety.  The following list gives you ten ways to help you control anxiety in the coming year.


    1)      Make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. Anxiety often appears alongside depression, bipolar or ADHD. Symptoms can be similar as those seen in chronic insomnia but may be from different causes. If treatment has not been working or not working as well as you would like, you may want to begin this year by getting an evaluation to make sure you are working with an accurate diagnosis. Talk with your mental health professional. For more information: Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Anxiety

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    2)      Follow your treatment plan. It is important not only to create an effective treatment plan but also to follow it. Take medication as prescribed, make sure you don't skip therapy appointments and keep your treatment team apprised of your progress.

    3)      Begin an exercise program. Study after study has shown that participating in an exercise program can help to reduce symptoms of both depression and anxiety. Although regular exercise is certainly more beneficial, even taking a brisk walk when feeling anxious can help reduce the intensity of symptoms or cause a diversion and allow you to better cope with the situation. Remember, before starting any exercise program, it is important to talk with your doctor.  

    4)      Practice deep breathing techniques every day. Taking ten minutes a day to exercise deep breathing can not only help to reduce overall anxiety, but will help you to be prepared when in a situation where stress and anxiety become overwhelming. 

    5)      Get a good night's sleep. Many people with anxiety disorders have insomnia: a difficult time either falling asleep or staying asleep. Chronic insomnia can increase feelings of anxiety during the day. If you have trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor about methods you can use to help get a good night's sleep. MySleepCentral may also provide you with strategies for overcoming insomnia.

    6)      Consider cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that works to reframe perceptions and thought processes to help in changing behaviors and emotional health.  Some tools used in CBT include relaxation training, biofeedback, hypnosis, and desensitization. You might also want to read: 10 Reasons to Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    7)      Avoid substances that can increase anxiety. Illicit drugs and alcohol may offer some short-term relief from anxiety symptoms, but cause more problems in the long run. These substances may also cause negative interactions with anxiety medications. It is best to avoid using illicit drugs and alcohol.

  • 8)      Eat healthy. Our bodies need certain nutrients to work properly. Making sure you eat a healthy, nutritious diet each day can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase your overall feeling of well-being.

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    9)      Join a support group. Reaching out, sharing experiences and exchanging strategies for coping with anxiety symptoms can be a great help. Even being able to talk with someone else, knowing you are not alone can make it easier to manage your own symptoms. There are support groups for anxiety in many localities, you can check with your mental health provider, your local hospital or check in your local newspaper. There are also many online support groups. AnxietyConnection's share posts can help you share your experiences and ask questions of others that are also suffering with anxiety.

    10)  Develop a hobby based on your interests. Beth Irvine, in an article, "Healing Hobbies" states, "When you spend time doing something you really enjoy, you tend to lose track of time on the clock. Spending time in this way moves you into a detached space from your day-to-day situations or issues. In this free place, you can be at your best, and feel happy for no real reason except that you are enjoying whatever activity you are presently focused on. Remember the child-like feeling of creating fun, simple and effortless? This same type of feeling brings a powerful punch to addressing your current-day stress and health problems." Find a hobby you enjoy. Adding time each day to do something special to you can help build your sense of well-being.


    If you aren't ready to make all these changes at once, choose one or two ideas and begin incorporating them in your life. As you begin to see progress, continue to make positive changes.


    Wishing everyone a happy, healthy New Year.


Published On: January 12, 2010