Go-to ways to help cope when anxiety rises
How to fret less and feel better
Did something keep you up last night — or make it hard to concentrate today? A car repair you didn’t expect? A rough patch in a friendship? A health concern in your family?
Even the most even-keeled of us can have times when anxiety rises — when our thoughts or worries make matters worse, not better. Here are some coping strategies to save for those particularly trying days.
- Take a calming time out
Do some slow, deep breathing. With this simple practiceOpens a new window, you can activate something powerful: the body’s natural relaxation response. It calms both your body and mind.
For the same soothing effect, try visualization. Close your eyes — and picture a peaceful spot, such as a flowery meadow or beautiful beach.
- Start moving
Exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals. Even a brisk 10-minute walk can help clear your mind and brighten your mood.*
- Pause for perspective
When a worry strikes, don’t cling to it — think critically. Ask yourself questions like these:
- Is there a more positive way of looking at this?
- Will this matter in a month or year?
- What would I say to a friend with this worry?
- Accept what you can’t control
It’s not always easy. But if something is truly out of your hands, try to let it go. Be patient with yourself. Acceptance can be a process.
- Take one positive step forward
If you’re anxious about something you can influence in some way, decide on a single action to take. What can you do to improve the situation? For instance, maybe you’re worried about money. Set aside time to work on a budget. Caring for an aging parent — and feeling overwhelmed? Research local services that may help.
- Find a good listener
Reach out to a supportive friend or family member. Simply confiding in someone who cares about you may help ease your mind.
- Hunt for humor
There’s often a lighter side to stressful situations — if you look for it. And nothing chases anxious thoughts away like a little laughter, especially when you’re willing to laugh at yourself.
What to do next
Set a calm tone for the day with a morning mantraOpens a new window. You might try a soothing positive message you can repeat to yourself, such as “Everything will be OK — this I believe.”
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*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.