Top 3 Tips for Managing Anxiety

The more tips the better, right?

Tip 1: Mindfulness

To clarify, mindfulness is not just a relaxation technique. When we talk about mindfulness, we mean being very aware and in tune with your senses and surroundings. For example, I could mindfully listen to heavy metal music, even though that wouldn't be particularly relaxing to me (though everyone has their own preferences!).

Mindfulness helps to ground us in the present. If you start to notice your anxiety spiking, take a moment to mindfully engage in a task such as listening to music, eating some food, or taking a quick break to get some fresh air. Really take the time to notice what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.

Tip 2: Yoga and exercise

The endorphins that exercise helps to release are crucial for people with anxiety. When you operate with anxiety, the baseline of your stress level is typically pretty high. You may have a small "window of tolerance," meaning stressors that seem small to others feel very big to you. Exercise and relaxation help to increase your window of tolerance, and build your stress management skills.

While I sometimes have trouble prioritizing it in my schedule, I notice a significant decrease to my personal stress level when I attend yoga classes at least 4 times a week.

Tip 3: Scheduling it in

Relaxation is great, but it's important to practice throughout the day. I encourage my clients to set a reminder on their phone, to go off a few times each day. When their reminder goes off, they take a really quick break to practice three deep diaphragmatic breaths, breathing slowly through their nose for 3 counts, and out of their mouth for 5.

Extra Credit: Figure out how your body responds to anxiety

Anxiety can provoke a fight/flight/freeze response in our brains and bodies. It's crucial to find your body's first clue that you're experiencing anxiety. Many people notice their muscles tensing or breathing quicken, but you may also find that you experience a tightening in your stomach, or your palms grow clammy. As soon as you notice that first sign, take some deep breaths, get a drink of water, or do something else that helps to calm you down. Being proactive goes a long way in helping to manage your anxiety.

Curious to hear more? These tips, along with a few from other therapists, can be found in this Reader's Digest post. You can contact Kelsey at compassionatecounselingstl@gmail.com to discuss other recommendations and hear if counseling is the best next step for you, your teen, or your kid. Kelsey specializes in anxiety and anger management and works with kids, teens, and college students in St. Louis, Clayton, Webster Groves, Brentwood, Town and Country, Creve Couer, and surrounding areas.