Anxiety is a constant struggle. You need to get it under control in order to live an enjoyable life, and that means you need to fight anxiety as best you can so that it doesn't overwhelm you and cause you to lose out on great experiences.
But you have to be careful. The truth is that the act of fighting anxiety can bring more stress. One of the biggest problems for those that have stress in the workplace is that they try to fight their anxiety every day, and it forces them to focus on their anxieties too much, creating more stress. Below are several tips and tools for reducing anxiety in ways that won't bring about additional stress.
Win the War on Anxiety
Fighting anxiety is when you have anxiety and you overcome it. Winning the war is when you've cured it forever. In order to cure anxiety, you need to focus on each of your symptoms.
Click here to take my free anxiety test to get started.
Stop Anxiety - Not Just Fight It
You don't want to keep battling anxiety forever. As hard as it may be to do, you need to commit to a long term anxiety treatment that wipes out anxiety forever, so that it never causes you problems again.
Try my free 7 minute symptoms questionnaire today. It's designed to give you a snapshot of your experience, combined with information on next steps towards curing that anxiety. If you haven't yet, click here to start the test.
How to Prevent Anxiety
Your goal is to come up with tools that help you cope with anxiety both before and after you're suffering. You also need these tools to provide you with much-needed relaxation, rather than make your anxiety worse. Consider the following tips and strategies for preventing anxiety:
Tip 1: Exercise Often
It's repeated time and time again how important exercise is for your mental health, and it simply cannot be emphasized enough. Regular physical exertion is one of the most powerful tools available for fighting anxiety, and if you aren't at least considering it then you're not doing what it takes to be anxiety free.
Exercise stimulates production of calming neurochemicals and burns away stress hormones while simultaneously reducing anxiety symptoms. It is the single most important thing you can do to fight anxiety.
Tip 2: Re-Learn Breathing
Most people don't realize this, but anxiety can actually alter the way you breathe. Those with anxiety tend to make faster breaths, or take in more oxygen than they need. This is called "hyperventilation" and it's responsible for many of the symptoms of anxiety attacks.
You can re-train your body to breathe in a healthier way. It isn't easy but by spending 30 minutes a day breathing much more slowly, taking in full breaths and breathing out as slowly as possible can get your body back into better habits. Also, if you feel some of the symptoms of hyperventilation, slow down your breathing to reduce the severity of those symptoms.
Tip 3: Avoid Moping
Normally, when it comes to stress, some alone time can be very helpful. But for those with daily, persistent anxiety, relaxing alone with your own thoughts can actually be harmful. Remember that anxiety has the potential to alter thought patterns. So if you have anxiety, your thoughts are more likely to be negative, leading to further stress and anxiety.
So do your best to stay busy and active. Plan events right after work or school. Make sure that you're doing as much as you can (healthy activities, of course - not partying, which we'll discuss in a bit) so that you aren't focused on your anxiety related thoughts and are out there enjoying life.
Tip 4: Avoid Crutches
We mentioned that you should avoid the partying lifestyle to prevent anxiety, and it's important that you do your best to avoid crutches that could exacerbate your anxiety further.
By crutches, these are unhealthy behaviors that act as makeshift coping strategies for anxiety. Crutches are essentially coping replacements. It's not just that drinking heavily and doing drugs are unhealthy - although they are unhealthy. It's that coping is a mental skill, and if you depend on these types of crutches, your brain won't bother practicing coping, and will instead force you to depend on those unhealthy habits to get over your anxiety. As soon as you stop partying, your anxiety will not only come back - it will be worse than before.
This is not a "drugs are bad argument" - although they are unhealthy. This is genuinely important for fighting anxiety. If you want to get over anxiety, you need to do your best to avoid reckless behaviors.
Tip 5: Kava and Natural Tools
On the flipside, there are some natural tools you can use to fight anxiety. For example, herbal supplements like kava can be taken as needed, and as long as you use them in combination with non-medicinal treatments, you shouldn't start depending on them.
Similarly, you may find that your anxiety symptoms dissipate with other natural tools as well. You may benefit from magnesium supplements, for example, because magnesium is depleted during times of stress, and magnesium deficiency can lead to some very upsetting symptoms and difficulty controlling anxiety.
There are plenty of natural and healthy options to try, and you should consider talking to your doctor about them as a way to assist in your stress reduction techniques.
Tip 6: Symptom Trigger Control
Millions of people suffer from anxiety attacks. These attacks are often triggered by other symptoms of anxiety, and cascade until they peak about 10 minutes in with a feeling of pure, unadulterated doom. Anxiety attacks are one of the most stressful and frustrating events to experience, and make it very hard to overcome anxiety.
Stopping anxiety attacks takes time and effort, and isn't something that you can simply fight away. In fact, the more you think about trying to control your attacks, the more you'll worry about one coming, and the more likely you'll have one. It's the catch-22 of trying to fight panic attacks.
What you can do is control the effects of triggers, and that means that you need to get used to each symptom so that they don't trigger panic. You can do this with what's known as "exposure therapy." It's best to do this in the presence of an expert, but it is something you can try in the comfort of your own home. Let's give an example that assumes that you get extreme anxiety when you feel dizzy.
- Learn a relaxation strategy that works for you, like deep breathing.
- Spin around in a chair.
- Get up - if you feel anxiety, wait until you calm down.
- Spin around in a chair again.
- Get up - if you feel anxiety, wait until you calm down.
- Spin around in a chair again.
Over time, you'll get so used to feeling dizzy that it won't cause as much fear. You can then try it in other styles too, such as spinning in a circle, or spinning in a chair in a public place. The more you're used to the symptom, the less likely it will trigger anxiety.
You can do this for any and all symptoms you experience. If you hyperventilate often, try hyperventilating on purpose. If you get panic attacks in certain locations, go to those locations always and often. As soon as the activity gets bored and tiresome, keep doing it, and eventually your anxiety won't be triggered at all.
The Best Way to Cure Anxiety
Remember, anxiety is a long term problem - something that you cannot cure without the right help.
Get started right now by taking my 7 minute anxiety test here.
Tip 7: Practice Relaxation Exercises
If you've ever sought out help for anxiety in the past, then you've no doubt come across relaxation strategies like visualization, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and others. You may have even tried them, and if you have, you probably didn't experience that much success.
That's because what these people don't tell you is that they don't work for a long, long time. And the reason they don't work is because in the beginning, all you're doing is thinking about how to do them correctly and whether or not they'll work.
We've said time and time again that you cannot hope to fight anxiety if you are thinking about it too much. So when you start any relaxation exercise, you're thinking about how it makes you feel and what it does, and whether you're doing it right, and how ridiculous it feels, and so on. You're doing nothing but thinking, because the relaxation exercise isn't natural to you.
For it to be effective, you have to keep doing it and expect no results until the exercise itself becomes both boring and second nature. As soon as you're able to perform the relaxation exercise without thinking about it or focusing on each individual part, that's when it should start working for you.
Finding Ways to Fight Anxiety
All of these strategies are effective for those that want to learn how to fight anxiety. They each address specific issues that many of those with anxiety face, and integrating them into your life is a great way to reduce the effects on anxiety on your overall satisfaction.
But fighting anxiety isn't enough. You need to win the war. For that, you need to be ready and willing to commit to a successful treatment option that is proven to reduce anxiety in those that suffer from it regularly.
I've helped many people fight anxiety for good, but in order to provide an accurate recommendation, it's crucial that you take my 7 minute anxiety test. You'll be asked about your symptoms and experiences, and then directed to a page that will teach you more about understanding your own anxiety.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.