Kac Young (author of Living the Faery Life) gives her take on dealing with anxiety and how using deep breaths can restore you to a calming state.
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but for some people, anxiety can be disruptive to their daily lives or even debilitating. If you suffer from anxiety occasionally or regularly, it’s always a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about possible treatments and therapies that can help you better manage anxiety. However, there are some tools and techniques you can try at home. Some consumers seeking relief for anxiety, for instance, turn to CBD products or even services like a CBD massage. Others find that their anxiety is more manageable when they stick to a healthy, clean eating diet. In fact, some experts agree that consuming a healthy, clean diet can help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
But what else can you do to deal with anxiety when it strikes? Fortunately, there are many techniques that can help you overcome anxiety when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed. To learn more about the tricks and tools that can help you cope with anxiety, we reached out to a panel of mental health experts and wellness professionals and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s your number 1 tip for dealing with anxiety?”
Meet Our Panel of Mental Health Experts & Wellness Professionals:
Keep reading to learn what our experts had to say about the best strategies you can use to deal with anxiety effectively.
NOTE: The information and opinions expressed below represent the opinions of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Incredible Edibles.
James Marrugo is a Mental Health Therapist at Morning Coffee Counseling LLC with a focus on anxiety, depression, and stress management.
“My number 1 tip for dealing with anxiety is controlled breathing…”
Breathe in for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds, pause for 2 seconds, and repeat as needed until a greater sense of calm and control is achieved.
As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.
“Anxiety manifests from us either being fixated on our futures or preoccupied with thoughts and feelings of our past…”
My #1 suggestion for dealing with anxiety is to connect to your breath! Taking long inhales and exhales, with a gentle focus on breathing deeply into the stomach and breathing out, as slow as you can. Breathing into the stomach activates the vagus nerve, which signals to the body ‘rest and digest.’ A long exhale is the opposite of a short inhale, which is usually what we do when we are anxious, we are breathing rapidly into the chest. Focusing on our breath in this way connects us to the fullness of the present moment.
Marina has a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is an author of two books, podcast host, and sound meditation facilitator.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is breathwork…”
Essentially, slowing down your breath. The first thing that happens when anxiety hits is that your breathing speeds up and becomes more shallow.
Drop your shoulders. Take a nice deep breath in through your mouth for a count of 5 and hold it at the top and slowly exhale for a count of 5. Do this 20 times, slowing down the count each time.
Focus on the air as it goes in through your nose and the air as it comes out of your mouth. You can watch your heart rate slow down on a Fitbit.
Amber O’Brien is a highly qualified psychologist who has been working at Mango Clinic for years and helping patients to fight their psychological and emotional fears and live a healthy life.
“Anxiety is an amalgamation of negative or uneasy emotions that include fear and nervousness regarding something…”
What I conclude concerning anxiety is that it’s normal to feel anxious sometimes. Either a person is worried about his/her past or a future event.
My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to stay mindful whenever an anxiety attack befalls. For a minute or two, figure out what’s bothering you. In most cases, people aren’t mindful of their present moment. Instead of directly addressing the cause of anxiety, people start feeling anxious and fearful for a long time. Consequently, it then affects their personal and professional lives to a great extent. As a solution, I recommend trying to address the root cause of your anxiety.
Once you have identified the cause of your worry or become conscious of your present moment, hold on for a minute and take a few deep breaths. Being mindful of your situation and breathing for some time can restore your sense of balance and help you in coming back to your present moment.
If you have some more time, I advise you to practice a simple breathing exercise. For this, all you need to do is get yourself seated in a comfy place, close your eyes, and start inhaling through your nose. Then, exhale slowly. Continue practicing this exercise for a while so that you can focus on your present moment and overcome all the overwhelming thoughts. Sticking to your present is the key factor in defeating anxiety.
Dr. Russell Kennedy is a medical doctor who suffered with anxiety for decades. He has scientific degrees and advanced training in medicine, neuroscience, and developmental psychology and is also a certified yoga and meditation teacher and pro stand up comic (no joke!). In his new book, Anxiety Rx: A New Prescription for Anxiety Relief From the Doctor Who Created It, Dr. Russ discusses a unique theory of anxiety that finally allowed him to find peace. Dr Russ is a real life example of “Physician, heal thyself!”
“I have MANY, but my best anxiety tip that I can give quickly is simply this…”
Ask yourself: ‘Am I safe at this moment?’ and follow it with, ‘In this moment I am in, right here, right now, I affirm that I am indeed safe.’ You may have an appointment with your lawyer next week, a big interview tomorrow, or an operation in a couple of months, but at this moment, show yourself in no uncertain terms that you are absolutely safe.
Worry and anxiety is always about the future. When you worry, your mind has put you in an emotional time travel machine and launched you into the future, with a scary story of what will happen when you get there!
Many people who struggle with anxiety are in a perpetual and relentless state of mentally going from trauma to trauma to trauma, never taking a moment to see that they are actually safe. Affirming that you are safe in the moment you are in is one of the very best things you can do to break that automatic and unconscious pattern of projecting yourself into a dangerous future.
Juli Kramer earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and Counseling Psychology. She is also certified in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy and holds certificates in Chinese medicine from Dr. Zhang, Shanghai World Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
“Here are my top two tips for dealing with anxiety…”
My first tip for dealing with anxiety is to eat walnuts and black sesame seeds. As a result of thousands of years of research, Chinese medicine has determined that anxiety relates to kidney health. People can make lifestyle and dietary choices to help strengthen their kidneys to beat anxiety.
One of the best dietary choices people can make is to add walnuts and black sesame seeds to their daily regimen until feelings of anxiety subside. Eating organic black sesame seeds and walnuts is an effective remedy because it can help strengthen the kidneys. There are also walnut and black sesame powders people can add to their food.
- 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp raw walnuts
- Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
- Place black sesame seeds and walnuts on a baking sheet.
- Cook in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
- When you can smell the nuts, you will know they are ready.
- Add the nuts to cooked steel cut oats, millet, or polenta.
Another tip for dealing with anxiety is to develop a regular qigong practice. Qigong heals the mind and body. It helps people with anxiety in two ways:
- Specific qigong flows can unblock energy to the kidneys and allow them to function properly. Healthy kidney functioning reduces both fear and anxiety.
- People most often feel anxiety when they are worrying about the future and the past. They are not in the present. Qigong can help people be present in the here-and-now. They focus on what their bodies are doing, which prevents them from letting their imaginations wander.
David Frank Gomes is professionally trained in the Co-Active Model of Life Coaching from the Co-Active Training Institute in California, the global leader in transformative Life & Business Coaching and accredited Global Values Professional. He is one of the guides and founders of the Wisdom Path Program.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to learn and develop a daily practice of mindfulness…”
This is not a magic bullet. It is a sustainable long-term strategy and practice that naturally reduces anxiety.
Mindfulness is the possession of a well-balanced mind, which exhibits goodwill and kindness. To be mindful means to be present, rather than living in the past (a memory) or future (a fantasy).
It is something you can practice and become better at. It involves different aspects such as meditation, conscious breathing, inserting mindful moments into your day, and learning to do ordinary things with more attention. There is also a philosophical component to it.
It is not a religion. You don’t have to become someone else to do it. It appears deceptively simple, and it requires patience and compassion to practice.
It helps you to develop a way of thinking that will support you in both your life and reduce anxiety by helping you become more present and friendlier with the way things are. This allows you to become more empowered in the moment you are in and step out of that moment in a kinder, more compassionate way towards yourself and your anxiety. We are trying to take care of our anxiety so we can heal it, which means we treat it as a friend, not an enemy.
Would you be willing to accept the moments of worry, fear, and uncertainty in your mind as temporary guests, and receive them with compassion without feeling obliged to serve them a five-course meal and invite them to live in your house?
The S.T.O.P. Practice
Because sometimes you need to take the mask off and give your mind a moment to swim in the water of relaxation, try the STOP PRACTICE throughout your day, at least three times per day. The more repetitions, the greater the effect. It doesn’t need to take a long time, but trust me, the benefits are many.
However, if you cannot do it that often, practice as often as possible. You can use the guided meditation below to support you, but you can also try doing it on your own.
The STOP practice can help whenever you’re feeling distress or just need a quick break in your day to check in with yourself. It creates a space to observe and calm your emotions and to access the deeper resources within you.
It also helps you develop the emotional and psychological flexibility required for greater control when life throws something challenging your way.
You can even schedule this into your phone and practice it even when you’re not stressed, to get the feel for it, so you can better remember to access it when things get a little crazy.
- S – Stop what you are doing; put things down for a minute.
- T – Take a breath. Breathe normally and naturally and follow your breath coming in and out of your nose. You can even say to yourself “in” as you’re breathing in and “out” as you’re breathing out if that helps with concentration.
- O – Observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. You can reflect about what is on your mind and notice that thoughts are not facts, and they are not permanent. If the thought arises that you are inadequate, just notice the thought, let it be, and continue. Notice any emotions that are there and just name them. Research suggests that just naming your emotions can have a calming effect. Then notice your body. Are you standing or sitting? How is your posture? Any aches and pains?
- P – Proceed with something that will support you in the moment, whether that is talking to a friend or just rubbing your shoulders, having a cool glass of water, or petting the dog. Whatever would support you in that moment.
Lillian Hood is a psychologist in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in working with trauma, OCD, and various forms of anxiety. She has also trained at the Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania to hone her skills in these areas. She is the Lead Therapist and Practice Owner of Danson Counseling & Assessment Services.
“My favorite strategies for dealing with anxiety include…”
4-7-8 breathing and the leaves on a stream mindfulness exercise.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise has both an in-the-moment effect and an effect that increases over time. This exercise can be practiced by breathing in for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and breathing out for a count of eight. You then repeat these steps for three more sets for a total of four breaths. You breathe in quietly through your nose and audibly out through your mouth. Your tongue is held in position behind your upper front teeth throughout the breath including the audible exhale. This, once done correctly, brings a sense of calm and well-being in the moment. If practiced at least twice a day for four to six weeks, it helps regulate the fight or flight response. Those who suffer with anxiety experience the fight or flight response when they experience racing thoughts, distorted thoughts, an association with a disturbing memory, etc. This exercise slows the heart rate back down and helps the individual connect with the present moment in a way that is calming. It can also help a person relax at night to fall asleep. The technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and is based on yogic breathing techniques.
The leaves on a stream exercise was created by Dr. Hugo Alberts and Dr. Lucinda Poole. This exercise teaches the person to separate from their thoughts and notice them as temporary events that are passing through instead of absolute truths. For example, you might have the thought, ‘I’m going to blow this interview.’ As you think it, you start to feel your heartbeat faster. You may believe that getting this job is necessary for your well-being or that of those in your care. You might start to think of all the horrible consequences of not getting the job. Before you know it, you are overwhelmed and panicking.
If you can learn to recognize these thoughts as only thoughts and not a foretelling of your future, you can feel less anxiety. You notice the thought without trying to block it out, recognize it for what it is, and accept those types of thoughts as part of your natural nervousness in this type of situation. These types of thoughts will come and go like leaves floating down a stream, and they do not dictate what action you take or your abilities.
In brief, this mindfulness exercise asks you to picture yourself sitting by a stream. As you sit there, you will have a variety of thoughts, positive, negative, and neutral thoughts. There are leaves floating down the stream in front of you. Each time you have a thought, you picture it on a leaf. It floats toward you for a while, and eventually it floats by and away. Some may take longer than others to drift by if, for example, they get hung up on some debris. They will eventually float away. The key is to give them the space to do so, not trying to force them away, but allowing them to come and go. As they are coming and going, you, not those thoughts, choose what happens next.
For example, you are waiting to be called back for that job interview and you have the above-mentioned thoughts. You notice these thoughts, possibly saying to yourself, ‘That’s my anxiety talking.’ You may then focus your attention on the room you are in. You may wonder about what the décor and layout say about the company with whom you are interviewing. This skill, like the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, takes persistence and practice; however, it is amazingly effective once you master it.
Rachel Ragsdale is one of the founders and owners of Braincode Centers. Rachel was inspired to found Braincode Centers after her own life was transformed by neurofeedback more than 11 years ago. She saw the incredible potential that these innovative technologies could offer, and she sought to find a way to harness that potential to benefit anyone.
“We all feel anxious from time to time; it’s just a natural part of everyday life…”
However, sometimes that anxiety can get in the way of living your life how you see fit. Whenever you feel overly anxious, there are many ways that you can try to control and reduce your anxiety, from breathing techniques and exercise to reducing your caffeine and paying attention to your sleeping habits.
If you feel overwhelmed by your anxiety, one of the best things that you can do in the moment is change whatever it is you’re listening to. While we all tend to focus mainly on visuals, your mood is actually heavily influenced by auditory stimulation. All of the sounds that we hear on a daily basis influence how we perceive the rest of the world.
Pleasurable music may lead to the release of neurotransmitters associated with reward, such as dopamine. On the other hand, an abundance of confusing and distracting sounds may actually increase your cortisol levels, as the sounds may be stressful and overwhelming. So, listening to calming music can be one of the most effective ways to alter your mood and relieve anxiety in the moment.
We should note though that if you are feeling anxious on a regular basis, it’s possible that your brainwave patterns may be out of balance. In a healthy and balanced brain, the central nervous system will produce the right brainwaves at the right levels and at the right times. These brainwaves include alpha waves, beta waves, delta waves, gamma waves, and theta waves.
People with recurring anxiety typically have decreased alpha waves and increased beta waves in the brain. In general, alpha waves are associated with a sense of calm and peacefulness, while beta waves can cause anxiousness and agitation when they’re occurring at higher frequencies. By taking the initiative to retrain your brain through neurofeedback, you can treat your anxiety at the source: your brainwaves.
Neurofeedback is an effective and all-natural way to retrain your brain. This therapy will measure your brainwave activity in real-time to help you learn how to better control it through operant conditioning.
Filipa is a Functional Medicine Practitioner & Clinical Nutritionist, and Co-Founder of virtual health practice Chris & Filly Functional Medicine in Tasmania, Australia. They’re best known for helping busy, burned-out professional working parents become healthy, have better work-life balance, and a happy family. They call this a Power Parent!
“My biggest tip would be to get to the root cause of the anxiety…”
While I love stress-relieving techniques, such as alternating nostril breathing, guided meditation, positive self-talk, etc., if there are imbalances happening inside the body (such as in the gut, the detox pathways, the hormones or the brain), none of these techniques will achieve long-term reversal of anxiety until the body systems are balanced. For me, balancing my adrenal stress hormones AND clearing pathogens (such as helicobacter pylori, candida, and parasites) from my gut, using natural medicines, food, and lifestyle changes, was the secret to overcoming my anxiety—for good!
Pareen Sehat is a registered clinical counselor and certified mental health professional at Well Beings Counselling.
“Everyone feels anxious at one time or another. The best way to control your anxiety is by…”
Understanding what triggers it. Find out if there are any daily triggers, try to observe and steer away from them. One of your triggers could also be coffee. Write it in a journal or keep a note of it on your phone. Understand your patterns and notice when you feel anxious the most. This way, you’ll be able to find solutions as well. Breathing techniques help tremendously. Count backward from 10 with a deep inhale and exhale the next time you feel anxious.
Vikki is a reformed hustler turned time hacker. She is taking on the 40-hour workweek and the story that things take time. We achieve more by doing less: Anti Busy + Anti Hustle. She’s the creator of Time Hackers, a coaching community where time has nothing to do with clocks and calendars. She’s also a podcast host to the top mental health podcast, F*CK Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done (+250,000 downloads).
“Anxiety is normal. We evolved to have it, and every single anxiety attack you have will pass…”
The most important thing we can do is drop the story that anxiety means something is broken and needs to be fixed. We evolved to have anxiety (which is an emotion where hormones are released) that allowed us to run faster, longer, and feel less pain. It was really useful for facing predators for 40,000 years, but it’s less so in our modern world.
The main issue is anxiety about anxiety—that is what is optional. When we accept that we evolved to experience emotions and hormones and drop the broken story, we prevent compounding anxiety. It’s the difference between 10 minutes of anxiety vs. days, weeks, sleepless nights, self-shaming and blaming, and spiraling further into more anxiety.
We evolved to experience anxiety. Swap arguing with it for accepting it, and it will pass through as fast as any other emotion.
Sonia is an adult psychiatrist and cofounder of Savant Care, which is a high-tech group of mental health clinics across California.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to know thyself…”
What I mean is, if you know where your anxiety originates and what younger part of you is activated that gives rise to these feelings of anxiety, then you will be able to mindfully observe that anxious inner child part and give it the love and care that it needs to calm down. I recommend that when you notice that you are becoming anxious, first observe yourself from a grounded and mindful place. Witness yourself as your body and mind experience anxiety. As you observe the anxiety, ask yourself:
- Where do you feel it in your body?
- What does it feel like?
- What is the function of it?
- When did this feeling originate (i.e. when did you first feel this way)?
- What was going on in that earlier time that called for this response?
- What was this younger part of you scared of?
- What did this younger part of you need to feel relaxed that it didn’t get back then?
Once you get to know the root of your anxious feelings, then mindfully, from that same grounded place, start to give that anxious child part the love and care it needs to feel reassured and calm that it didn’t get when it was growing up. This strategy will not only help give you a healthy distance from your anxiety in the moment but also will help you slowly heal the root cause of your anxiety (a.k.a. the inner anxious child part). This method of dealing with anxiety is best understood through in-depth psychotherapy.
Erin Miers, PsyD is a Psychology Consultant at Mom Loves Best.
“One of the first steps to deal with anything is to step back and define what it is that you are dealing with…”
As a psychologist, I define anxiety very broadly, as fear of the unknown. Generally, humans don’t like things to be unpredictable; we want to feel in control.
Creating a plan and practicing mental flexibility are my two best recommendations for dealing with anxiety. Creating a plan helps us feel in control and practicing mental flexibility helps us cope when things don’t go the way we hoped they would go. Let me give an example: If I feel anxious that my office building is at risk for a fire emergency, this fear might consume my thoughts when I am at work. I can make a plan for what to do in a fire emergency or review my work’s protocols for such a situation. If I feel the need, I can practice the plan or at least walk through it once.
Then, when the anxious thoughts pop into my head, I can respond to those thoughts with a statement such as, “I have a plan if that happens,” or another helpful statement. It might seem silly, but anxiety comes from a place of protecting ourselves, so your brain needs multiple reassurances that it is safe.
Mental flexibility comes in when you can’t follow your plan as expected. Let’s just say that a fire emergency did occur at your work, and your planned exit was blocked. It takes mental flexibility to shift your plan and find a new exit. Practicing both of these strategies will reduce your anxiety.
Dr. Pietro Luca Ratti, MD, Ph.D. is a sleep expert and Neurologist for WhatAsleep.
“As a sleep expert and medical professional, I cannot NOT talk about using sleep as a tool to deal with anxiety…”
People who turn their sleep routine into something more than just bedtime can use it as a way to unwind and destress from life’s issues.
Create a calming environment in your bedroom that takes you away from your work and is free of technology. Bring in some incense, a diffuser, turn the lights down, drink some Chamomile tea, and turn on some calming music.
It will not heal severe anxiety or deal with all of your issues, but it’s a great way to reduce anxiety and de-stress.
Jon is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and mental health professional from the UK.
“Anxiety is usually caused by thinking into the future too much…”
Don’t get me wrong, future planning is useful, but you shouldn’t spend the majority of your time there. Do your planning, then return to where you should be—the present. When you’re in the present, there’s rarely any worry or anxiety. Often the anticipation of events causes more anxiety than the actual event itself.
A good way to quickly reduce anxiety is by saying to yourself the word ‘trust.’ This means you trust yourself that you’ll get through whatever is happening. And it’s a good reminder that you’ve so far managed to successfully navigate whatever life has thrown at you, which is why you’re still here. When you say to yourself the word ‘trust,’ you’ll be reminded to return to the present and that you can deal with whatever life throws your way by thinking on your feet.
“Here are my top tips for dealing with anxiety…”
- Have yourself some magnesium! While having a meal that’s rich in nutrients is essential, some minerals play a major role in regulating your anxiety and stress levels. Magnesium is a micronutrient playing a role in about 300 biochemical reactions in our body. It plays a major role in generating energy from glucose. So, if your levels are somehow low, your energy levels can go downhill. It is recommended to have about 300 mg of magnesium per day (for women) and 350 mg (for men). So, it would be wise to include some of the food choices that are high in this mineral daily, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, fish, bran cereals, and whole grains.
- Relax your muscles. When stress hits you at work, you get overwhelmed by its ramifications. One very essential tool you can use is progressive muscle relaxation. This method consists of intentionally putting tension on the muscles, and then intentionally releasing the tension. An Iranian study explained that this type of muscle workout is simple and can be performed while sitting on a chair. It helps reduce anxiety and relieves tension. Sit in a comfortable position, breathe a couple of times, tense the muscles on one of your feet by squeezing as tight as possible, hold on at this position for up to 10 seconds, and then release it. Take 30 seconds to breathe and relax, then shift to the second foot.
Dr. Julia Ryan is registered as a clinical and school psychologist serving clients in the Ottawa region. She works at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and is an active research scholar holding a postdoctoral position at Carleton University.
“Anxiety is a common experience for many people…”
Racing thoughts, a fast heartbeat, worries that just won’t go away, irritability, trouble sleeping…we’ve all been there. My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to make sure your basic self-care is on point. We often forget about the basics, but they are SO important to maintaining mental health. Are you eating properly? Are you getting some exercise and time outside? Are you getting enough sleep and connecting with your loved ones?
For most people, these strategies should really help. Of course, some people experience really high levels of anxiety that may qualify for a mental health diagnosis. These folks sometimes need more intensive and specialized strategies and support to manage their anxiety. If this is you, you should reach out to your primary care provider to discuss your options further.
Dr. Stephanie Fumi Hancock, PsychDNP, is the CEO of Pool of Bethesda Psychiatric Health and a bestselling author of 24 self-help books.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to slow down and breathe properly…”
When we become anxious, our mind and body are on overdrive. Stop what you are doing. Take a few deep breaths in through the belly area. Hold it for a few seconds. Then slowly exhale through the mouth. This will oxygenate the body and reset your mind. Then, look at what is bothering you and instead of being overwhelmed by all that you have to do, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps.
For the past 16 years, Stephanie Dalfonzo has been helping clients make major life changes as an Integrative Hypnotist. She has helped thousands from age 8 to 82 overcome fears and anxiety. She is also the author of Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom.
“My #1 tip for dealing with anxiety is to…”
Experience short moments of calm many times an hour. By interrupting the stress cycle on a regular basis, it keeps the stress levels lower and makes it easier to find emotional balance. These short moments of calm can be as simple as focusing on your breath and thinking “I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out, I’m breathing in, I’m breathing out…”
Kelly Marzoli is a fierce advocate for mental health awareness, reform, and suicide prevention. Kelly is a Mental Health Specialist and is licensed in Mental Health Intervention and Mental Health First Aid by the National Council for Behavioral Health. She founded an organization called Mental Health Global Network to prioritize mental health on an equivalent level to physical health.
“My top tip for dealing with anxiety is to…”
Distract yourself. Anxiety has been proven to be the strongest when we first wake up in the morning. If you get up and get going, the anxiety will start to decline throughout the day.
If your anxiety is preventing you from something you want to do (hobbies/social) or need to do (responsibilities), this is considered avoidance. We need to push through our avoidance and carry through our daily activities despite feeling anxious.
The worst thing you can do is procrastinate and avoid it because that only leads to more anxiety and guilt about the delay in completing your daily tasks. Do whatever you can to self-soothe. Stay busy and maintain a routine and schedule.
Even though the anxiety makes you feel unsafe, remember your brain is lying to you. Tell yourself, “I’ve felt like this before and I’ve always made it through. I’ll make it through again. This is hard, but anxiety can’t kill me.”
Talk about your anxiety with loved ones or a therapist who can give you new coping strategies.
Distract yourself with things that make you feel productive, such as:
- Exercise, do yoga, run, or go for walks.
- Try to eat three meals even if you don’t feel hungry.
- Drink water and take small sips every time you feel the wave of anxiety.
- Practice mindfulness, do breathing techniques, meditate, and practice positive affirmations.
- Make a to-do list and start crossing things off that are easy to achieve.
- Meet with a friend or someone who can make you laugh and bring some relief.
- Watch something or listen to music that takes you out of your current reality.
- Use tangible coping tools for anxiety, like essential oils, a stress ball, a coloring book or notebook, etc.
Dr. Mauro is a psychologist in PA. She owns and operates her private practice where she specializes in treating trauma survivors. She recently published her first workbook: Healing PTSD: A CBT Workbook to Taking Back Your Life.
“Anxiety can be described as a discomfort disorder as the symptoms manifest during situations or events that make one feel uncomfortable or in fear…”
And of course, we must not forget about the physiological symptoms that heighten the anxiety. If left untreated or unrecognized, anxiety starts to take control of other areas of your life such as your thoughts, actions, decision making, and so forth. You have to confront rather than avoid the discomfort. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort to recognize that it is only temporary and it is not life-threatening. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort and label this discomfort associated with anxiety. Allow yourself to feel the discomfort to recognize that the past and future are guided by your anxiety and not you.
Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH is a Doctor of Natural Healing, Naturopath, and Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy. She is also a Medical Qigong Teacher, Reiki Master, and Author.
“My top tip for dealing with anxiety is…”
Purposeful breathing. I worked long, intense days as a TV director. To regain my power in stressful moments, and to relax when I was at the end of my rope, I began a practice of mindful and purposeful breathing. It’s a lifesaver. What breathing does is takes your mind off your worry, fear, or anxiety and places it inside of you. If you consciously breathe in and follow your breath as it travels throughout your body, pausing for a moment before exhaling, you change your experience from anxious to calm. Anyone can breathe in any situation. Taking a few deep breaths while concentrating on nothing but breathing lowers your blood pressure, adjusts your heart rate, and brings oxygen and nutrients to your entire body. Breath refreshes, reenergizes, and leaves you connected to yourself and more in control. As I learned more about breath, I chose yoga as a relaxer, and I now teach Medical Qigong so people can heal from the inside out. Our lives begin and end with breath. Why not use it all the time to center, restore and reorient? It’s the best therapy ever, and it’s free!
Leslie Gunterson helps people get back the motivation and zest for life after divorce. Her company, New Life Paradigm, helps singles get over the sting of divorce and ‘Thrive’ with emotional, physical, and financial well-being.
“My number one tip for anxiety is to…”
Visualize, in detail, what you want, why you want it, as well as what it will look like when you get it. Get a picture of what you want and put it on a vision board and not only imagine it daily and when you’re anxious, but also take action to create it daily. Even small actions to create the things you want is focusing on what you want.
Anxiety is generally focusing on what you don’t want. What you focus on expands; therefore, it is better to focus on what you DO want. Generalized anxiety is continuing to focus on things you don’t want, so much so that your unconscious mind thinks that this is what you want it to do all the time, and it becomes habitual. Taking out a piece of paper and writing down, in detail, what you really want (instead of what you are anxious about) and taking the above actions will not only release the anxiety but also change your life in some great ways.
Elizabeth has a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and is a doctoral candidate working on her dissertation. She is an Advanced Reiki Practitioner, Certified Dance Instructor, Board Certified Coach, and clinical hypnotherapist.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to…”
Calm the body first before seeking to calm the mind.
Anxiety provokes what therapists call an Amygdala Hijack, which essentially sends out an alarm to the mind and body, and the stress levels respond by increasing the heart rate, racing thoughts, sweating, and a feeling of panic. The fact of the matter is that the anxious person cannot predict the final outcome of the situation they are having anxiety about, so they must be in a clear state of mind to examine the evidence of what they can and cannot help. After calming their physiology down, the person struggling with anxiety can then approach the problem with reasonable and rational thought.
Ways of physical calming include yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques. I like to use a breathing technique which I call the Sevens. It consists of seven seconds of inhaling and seven seconds of exhaling. I also instruct my clients to notice where they are feeling tense in their bodies, and as they are breathing in their sevens, they tense this area upon the inhale and relax the area with the exhale. It is a wonderful way to regain control of the body and mind.
A Philadelphia local and Texas transplant by way of Vietnam, Dr. Krysti (Lan Chi) Vo is a physician first; following close behind, she’s an advisor, advocate, consultant, researcher, writer, and speaker. Her expertise spans from mental health collaborative care, pediatrics, autism, and developmental disabilities to healthcare-related technology, chatbots, digital health, telehealth, and more.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to…”
Adopt sustained habits of doing mindfulness on a daily basis.
Before I go into more about mindfulness, I would like to stress the importance of understanding what anxiety is. Many people use the term anxious for symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is very different from anxiety disorders. A myth is that anxiety should be eliminated; it shouldn’t. Anxiety is what drives us to stay home during the pandemic due to fear of contracting COVID-19. Anxiety is evolutionary, as it was needed for humanity to survive. However, in this modern world in which we are not being chased by a lion and often have shelter and food, too much anxiety can lead to impairment in our lives, and thus we need to alleviate the anxiety. But anxiety cannot be eliminated.
The #1 tip for dealing with anxiety is to adopt mindfulness into your daily life. Mindfulness is rooted in meditation from eastern philosophy and has been studied in a great deal of research. It is considered a science-backed, evidence-based skill for anxiety. It is incorporated into many evidence-based therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for chronically suicidal people. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, and show many beneficial physiological changes in the body. These effects decrease anxiety.
Clinically, I incorporate one minute of mindfulness at almost all of my visits with patients and their families. I do it with them during our session! Uniquely, I grew up doing mindfulness meditation and have tried various techniques of mindfulness, from zen meditation to chanting mantras. I also practice unique mindfulness such as mindful eating, which many studies have shown evidence of helping people lose weight. I stress to families that you don’t have to sit still to do a mindfulness exercise. Mindfulness is a way of life and can be incorporated into your lifestyle, such as through mindfulness walking.
I teach people how to adopt mindfulness into their daily lives through my Adopting Productive Habit 8-weeks series. Each session will start with a mindfulness exercise and a short presentation, followed by a facilitated group discussion during which we will use real-life examples to help us stop unhealthy habits and to adopt productive ones.
Rose is a licensed mental health therapist working in private practice in Western North Carolina. She specializes in treating anxiety, substance use, and trauma-related disorders for people who work in technology and adjacent industries.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is the acronym R.A.I.N….”
This comes from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, and is an easy-to-remember tool. First, R – Recognize the emotion. Say to yourself, “This is anxiety,” or “I’m feeling anxious.” The A is for Accept and Acknowledge. Add another accepting thought like, “Everyone feels this way sometimes.” Treat the anxiety as you would welcome a guest to your home. Anxiety can be fickle in that the more we try to pretend it doesn’t exist, the louder it tends to become. You might also acknowledge additional sensations here, like a racing heart or a queasy stomach.
The I stands for Investigate. I encourage clients to be curious and nonjudgmental. Ask yourself, “When did this feeling arrive?” or take a quick survey of potential sources of anxiety in your life. Lastly, the N is for Non-identify—that is to say, create some healthy distance between yourself and the uncomfortable emotion. A surprisingly powerful shift occurs when we describe the emotion as ‘the anxiety’ instead of ‘my anxiety.’ You might also remind yourself that even if the emotion is still there, it doesn’t define you, and it will eventually pass with time and self-compassion.
Heather Z. Lyons, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and owner of the Baltimore Therapy Group. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, an honor bestowed upon psychologists who have had a national impact in the field of psychology as evidenced by their unusual and outstanding contributions.
“Psychologists now know a lot about the causes of anxiety, which also means that…”
We’ve done a good job of helping people bring down levels of anxiety using some well-researched techniques. One of my favorite techniques is designating a worry time. Worry time is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than allowing anxious thoughts to consume better parts of days or sleepless nights, you can set aside a specific time each day for a specific length of time to allow yourself to worry. When you find yourself starting to spin through anxious thoughts outside of worry time, just jot those thoughts down and come back to them during the designated time.
Worry time works because of a mechanism psychologists call stimulus control. By setting aside specific times, we stop our brain from being stimulated to worry in response to stimuli (or triggers) such as particular places, people, or topics. We are unlearning the relationship between stimulus and response.
Carmen is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in San Diego, CA. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety, trauma, depression, and various other mental health issues in adolescents and adults.
“My favorite tip for anxiety is to…”
Go drink a cup of ice-cold water as fast as you can without giving yourself a brain freeze.
For many people, anxiety presents with an increased heart rate, and this tip will slow the heart rate down and engage the senses for grounding. I love this one because it is so easy. Change and implementing new skills can be challenging, but this tip comes with very few barriers.
Tahia is a psychiatrist at Savant Care. She received her medical degree from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School with a distinction in research. She completed her psychiatry residency training at Northwell Health Zucker Hillside Hospital, where she developed mastery in psychotropic medications, multiple therapeutic modalities, and psychoeducation/advocacy.
“There are two approaches to dealing with anxiety: cognitive and behavioral…”
Cognitive means taking an inward look at how you think, and how the way you think (circular, scattered, catastrophic, etc.) affects your emotions. Once we are able to identify different patterns in how we think, instead of letting them take control of our emotional space, we can watch them float by in our minds (you can wave at them if you like!), thereby giving them less power to destabilize us. Meditation is a great way to practice this, and there are many apps available for guided meditations. My favorite is mindfulness meditation, and it can be done anywhere with any activity (for example, a walking or eating mindful meditation).
The second way is behavioral, and it often can be an easier approach for people who find the idea of meditation daunting. The concept is simple: when we take care of our bodies, we take care of our minds. This can be quite difficult as well since people have busy lives with work and/or family, responsibilities, physical limitations, medical conditions, or just have no motivation to be active due to their mental health. I suggest taking small steps towards self-care. With COVID keeping everyone sheltered indoors, we often forget how closely our bodies are connected to nature. For example, our circadian rhythms are linked to sunlight (that’s why light lamps are a type of treatment). So even stepping outside for a few minutes each morning with a cup of water, coffee, tea, or hot cocoa (I could keep going…) will do wonders for your mind. Breathe in that fresh air and feel the sun and breeze on your face. That is what we mean by behavioral activation. Once you get into that habit (remember, a habit generally sticks after 30 days, so it is okay to give yourself time!), then maybe step it up a notch (some pun intended) and go for a five-minute walk. Over a few weeks, you can graduate to longer walks or maybe a light jog.
Lastly, my number one tip for dealing with anxiety is this: be kind to yourself, your body, and your mind. Give yourself space and time to heal. And most of all, don’t compare yourself to others or even an idealized version of yourself (avoid the traps of shoulda, coulda, woulda). You are on your own journey, and everyone has a different path.
Dr. Ericka Goodwin is on a mission to help you Be Better, Do Better, and Live Better. She is a Harvard-trained, double board-certified psychiatrist, bestselling author, top-rated speaker, integrative lifestyle coach, and creator of the hit series, “Growth Groove with Dr. Ericka.” She is a graduate of Spelman College and Emory University School of Medicine. She also completed her General Psychiatry Residency at Morehouse School of Medicine.
“My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to…”
Stop, take deep breaths, and say a mantra like “I am still here, I am a survivor.” This combination helps bring someone back to the present to ground them and is combined with an affirmation.
Justin Baksh, LMHC, MCAP, and Chief Clinical Officer for Foundations Wellness Center, has over a decade of experience successfully helping clients with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and more.
“DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) techniques can help with both the physical and mental aspects of anxiety…”
There are a slew of other techniques out there, but I personally prefer those of DBT because they are free and can be accessed and applied in almost any environment… without anyone else knowing.
For those who experience looping, ruminative, and intrusive thoughts, understanding those mental symptoms is extremely helpful. Anxiety, in its general sense, is projecting into the future and (more than likely) anticipating a negative or consequential outcome that hasn’t happened yet. In the treatment setting, we call this “future tripping.” The key to DBT techniques is getting out of your head. Realize and accept that we have absolutely no control, in most cases, over future outcomes. You can prepare, get organized, and be as ready as you can mentally, physically, and emotionally for future events… but Murphy’s Law is a thing and it does happen. The unchecked mental reaction to anxiety is something that is a bit harder for clients to learn to redirect so that they remain in the moment initially. With your body, there are tangible symptoms you can focus on; however, thoughts are intangible by nature. It’s a bit more difficult at first for the mental part, but with practice redirecting those thoughts and remaining in the moment, you can succeed.
If your experience of anxiety is mainly based in your body—with symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, a pit-in-the-stomach feeling, or nervous energy running through you—you can implement DBT techniques to help ground you. Grounding, in a sense, gets you out of your body and into your environment. It also channels the body’s energy in a purposeful way, reducing built-up anxious tension. There are breathing techniques to help manage the biological reaction to the anxiety such as mindful breathing, and techniques used in conjunction with biofeedback equipment can help you self-regulate and reduce the physical symptoms.
It has to be said that medication may be necessary for some individuals at first. Being open to low doses of non-narcotic, anti-anxiety medication can help. Finally, seek therapy if you are feeling that you’ve exhausted your personal efforts. I’ve often found that an outside perspective (one that is not from a family member) on your life or struggle can go a long way.
Dr. Sharon Saline is the author of the award-winning book, What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew: Working Together to Empower Kids for Success in School and Life and The ADHD solution card deck. She specializes in working with neurodiverse children, teens, young adults, and families and helps them learn effective communication tools, deepen personal insight, and build closer connections.
“You can’t eliminate anxiety; it’s part of how humans are wired and it evolved as a protective mechanism…”
But sometimes it overreacts, distorts things, and is unhelpful. My number one tip for dealing with anxiety is to learn how to turn down the volume on its frequency and intensity. You do this by recalling moments of bravery and resilience and adapting whatever tools you used in those situations to help you handle the current obstacle. This bridge from your present worry to a time in the past when you succeeded in spite of your fears changes the focus from powerlessness to resilience. Anxiety is a shapeshifter, so it’s important to emphasize the process by which it operates instead of the ever-changing content that poses debilitating challenges. Since anxiety is great at erasing memories of courage and success, you want to think about times in the past when you felt insecure and how you overcame your uncertainty. Be specific. This way, you will weaken anxiety, set up more effective cognitive paradigms, and provide yourself with the necessary reassurance that you can handle what you are facing.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, these expert tips are a great starting point to help you overcome your anxiety and regain control of your emotions and your life. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider if anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day life or if you’ve tried various self-help techniques without success.
A Guide to Connecting with the Magic, Power and Joy of the Enchanted Realm
You are cordially invited to begin your magical relationship with the faery world. Many of the things we believe about faeries are old wives’ tales, made-up myths, and invented stories to satisfy cultural curiosity. Here, you will learn how to separate myth from truth and discover how to create your private faery kingdom.
Learn the rules of faery life and reconnect with nature. Discover how to make a faery garden, what particular trees and plants attract faery folk, and rituals you can perform to connect with the faery realms. Even if you are not yet a fully-fledged “Faery Believer,” a walk in the outdoors will never be the same once you have been touched by the wisdom and enchantment of Living the Faery Life.