Ways to Cope With Anxiety

Skills That Go Beyond Medication and Therapy

Young man meditating outdoors
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Learning to cope with anxiety, especially for people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), is essential to maintaining a quality of life. Beyond professional and pharmaceutical treatments, there are a number of basic coping tools you can turn to whenever you feel anxiety creeping in.

1. Reassure Yourself

Oftentimes, when immersed in anxiety, we are so focused on the moment that we are unable to put the events into perspective.

If this happens, one of the things you need to do is to remind yourself that these are feelings you have experienced and coped with in the past.

However strong the emotions may be, you need to take a deep breath and reassure yourself that this is something you can handle. As basic as this may sound, doing so can go a long way to helping you find solutions rather than feeling trapped.

2. Identify the Source

The ever-present nature of GAD is such that people will often struggle to identify the actual source of their anxiety. Some of this may be due to the fact that they are less willing face the cause, perhaps out of fear that it may dredge up even worse emotions. This is fair.

With that being said, without investigating the cause, you will never find the means to resolve or even address these emotions. Instead, you may find yourself in a purely reactive state in which your emotions control you.

If ever faced with an approaching anxiety, move yourself to a quiet place and figure out what's going on. Be honest with yourself, and don't be afraid of the bigger emotions.

3. Solve the Problem

Anxiety compels us to take action and solve problems. If the problem is something you have influence over, taking thoughtful action can be a great way to calm yourself in the short term.

Unfortunately, not all problems are solvable. In such case, you need to learn how to manage uncertainty. Instead of letting all of the "what ifs" circulate in your head ceaselessly, remind yourself there are things you can control (like your emotions) and others you can't (like other people's emotions).

If there is a bigger issue that needs solving, speak with your therapist or a trusted friend to formulate a reasonable strategy.

4. Embrace Impermanence

As humans beings, we often don't want things to change. But, the simple fact is that life is change, and impermanence is something we all have to accept.

For people with GAD, impermanence can be a friend. It can remind you that whatever feelings you are experiencing now will eventually pass. While it may seem to you that a problem is so big that you will never get past it, by embracing impermanence you can provide yourself the means to place your emotions in the proper context as an event rather than a state.

5. Relax

When in the throes of an anxiety attack, it is often best to stop and not try to figure things out all at once. In fact, you may need to do the opposite and use relaxation techniques to shut off the anxious thoughts until you are better able to cope.

This may include mindfulness meditation, yoga breathing exercises, and mental body scanning by which you focus on body sensations rather than thoughts that you are unable to contain. Incorporating these techniques into your daily routine allows you to not only master the skills but take a more proactive approach to your condition.