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Here's How to Manage Anxiety

Wendy M Yoder, Ph.D.
Medically reviewed by
Wendy M Yoder, Ph.D.
Here's How to Manage Anxiety

Every day that you struggle with anxiety is a day that you're managing it. Managing anxiety is simply the act of preventing anxiety from overwhelming you. No matter how difficult it may be to live with anxiety or how much you struggle with it every day, you are coping with it in small ways.

You may not realize it - and certainly coping with it may not be enough - but anxiety management is merely the ability to learn to live with your anxiety and still function as best you can.

Yet anxiety can also be managed better. You want to get to a place where you can live with your anxiety every day, and your anxiety doesn't hold you back from achieving your goals. That's why anxiety management tips are so valuable.

What is the Difference Between Managing Anxiety and Curing Anxiety?

Managing anxiety is when you still have anxiety, but you've learned to control it. Curing anxiety is when you do not suffer from anxiety disorders anymore. You may still have anxiety when faced with an anxious situation, but you no longer suffer from anxiety attacks or live with unprompted anxiety every day. Curing anxiety takes time. 

You want to cure your anxiety someday. Managing anxiety is great, but your mind and body are still struggling with it, and over time that stress can still cause you more problems even if your anxiety feels under control, but curing anxiety takes time, dedication, and smart treatment choices. Until you're ready to commit to an effective long-term treatment that can ultimately help you prevent future anxiety, managing anxiety is the next best thing.

The Truth About Anxiety Management

The most important thing to realize about anxiety management is that, even though there are many techniques to help you manage your anxiety, your mental coping skill is still your strongest tool. Everyone - no matter how much anxiety they experience - has that coping skill inside them. It's like a muscle, and you can train it to help you overcome anxiety and reduce its effects.

But you can also make it weaker, and you can do that by using unhealthy anxiety management practices. For example:

These are always unhealthy behaviors, but they're especially damaging when you're trying to manage anxiety. That's because they become crutches that essentially tell your brain that it doesn't need to practice its coping skills because you have something else dulling the anxiety for you.

Your mind and body adapt when outside forces require it to do less work. It's the reason that steroid use in athletes is so dangerous. Take too many steroids, and your body will naturally produce less because it doesn't think it needs to do any work for them anymore.

It's the same with anxiety and stress. If you're often anxious, and you turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, then your mind will expect that these coping mechanisms will do all the work, and you'll further lose your ability to cope naturally. So while you should always refrain from heavy drinking, drugs, etc., it's especially important when you live with anxiety.

How to Manage Your Anxiety and Anxiety Symptoms

That doesn't mean there aren't strategies that you can use to manage your anxiety. They simply have to be strategies that aid your natural coping ability rather than replace it. Below are some examples of natural anxiety management tools:

Remember, anxiety management is about helping your mind learn to cope with stress better so that the symptoms of anxiety aren't as severe. Anything that promotes relaxation may be helpful.

Panic Attack Management

Living with panic and anxiety attacks can be a bit harder. Unfortunately, without the right treatment, these attacks will continue, and they can be devastating even for those that are used to them. But there are still ways to manage your anxiety attacks.

The key is to reduce their severity. The weaker your anxiety attacks are, the less likely you'll fear them, and the less you fear them, the less power they have. Here are some examples of how to manage panic attacks:

These aren't perfect strategies, of course, but they can help. Panic attacks, like all forms of anxiety, can be relieved with the right treatments, so make sure that you're seeking out these treatments so that you can properly improve your symptoms.

Permanently Managing Anxiety

In some cases, you may find that anxiety management was all you needed to create a better quality of life. Not everyone suffers from severe anxiety, and in some cases, a bit of management may be enough to "essentially" cure your anxiety, at least enough that you can function happily with anxiety having little impact.

Still, most people need something more. So while you should use the above anxiety management tips and information, you should also remember that options are available, and you don't have to live with anxiety forever.

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