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4 Simple Tools For Coping With Everyday Anxiety

We reached out to our volunteers for some tips and strategies for dealing with anxiety in day-to-day life. Here, grouped by common themes, is what they had to say:

1. Organization — Erasing unpredictability with reassurance

"Organization is incredibly important to keeping me on track in all facets of my life. When I find myself becoming stressed or overwhelmed, I first take a step back and give myself a break from whatever I am doing that is causing these feelings. Once I have given myself a chance to decompress, I start by getting organized again and then jump back on track." – Adam

“I find that writing out what I’m worried about like a to-do list actually helps me see that I can do it and I’ll be ok” – Annie

2. Breathing — Slow, steady and thoughtful

“Breathe deeply in and out slowly while thinking (and sometimes saying out loud) positive affirmations like ‘feelings are not facts’ and ‘this situation is distressing but not dangerous’” – Lee

“A trick taken from Lamaze during child birth is to slowly breathe in through your nose and then whistle the air out.” – Patricia

“I find deep breathing slow and easy to help calm me down.” – Teresa

3. Talking with Others — Support through talk and trust

"Sometimes just having someone to talk to releases some of my anxiety. I personally find that open and honest conversations with a close friend or my therapist alleviate some of my anxiety by just talking situations out with someone I know and trust. Then together, we can come up with a plan to better deal with what is causing me to be anxious." – Adam

”Text a friend. In an anxious state, I find it very hard to speak and talk in person or on a phone because I feel nauseated, and talking makes it worse. Texting or instant messaging over Facebook is useful in this situation. I ask my husband or a good friend to ‘tell me something funny’ and they know exactly why I am asking them to do that.” – Melanie

4. Distraction — Peace through preoccupation

“Taking a hot shower and curling up in a warm comforter and watching my favorite TV programs or DVDs” – Lee

“Grab something to read, make coffee and enjoy nature.” – Mercedes

“One thing I do to manage anxiety is distraction. Those new adult coloring books are good for distraction, also online games that take skills and thinking.” - Teresa

“When I feel my anxiety spiking, I try to go out for a long run. I have to talk myself into it sometimes, but it really does help when I get out there.” – Annie

See more distraction ideas in our article 18 Ways to Distract from Anxiety.

These are some general tips for dealing with day-to-day anxiety. In addition to these simple tools you can try on your own, there are also skill-based therapies that can teach you more specific skills for dealing with anxiety such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness. These therapies teach skills such as challenging negative thought patterns or learning to stop ruminating on the same thought.

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