Anxiety is a human emotion—everyone feels it. Anxiety can sometimes be motivating and help people take action or avoid dangerous situations. But when anxiety starts to impair day-to-day function, it becomes problematic.
Things to Keep in Mind About Anxiety
- Chronic stress can lead to anxiety.
- Doubts about your ability to cope with, or handle, a situation can also feed into anxiety.
- Anxiety causes the normal worry or fear you feel to be exaggerated compared to what one would expect.
- Anxiety causes significant distress and interferes with your daily life.
- Anxiety can take many different forms.
Recognizing Symptoms of Anxiety
- Physical symptoms: shortness of breath, racing heart, muscle tension, headaches, upset stomach or nausea, sweating, shaking, insomnia.
- Psychological symptoms: racing thoughts, excessive worrying, thinking about a lot of “what if?” questions, feeling on edge or that something terrible might happen, feeling easily startled.
While anxiety can feel uncomfortable, we can never get rid of it completely. Anxiety is a necessary emotion and can be very helpful. Instead of attempting to eliminate it, we can learn how to better manage our anxiety.
- Anxiety is perpetuated by avoidance: stop avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. Try to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
- Be compassionate with yourself: acknowledge that you are feeling anxious, but don’t beat yourself up about it.
- Exercise regularly. For example, go for a walk, do some stretching, work out, etc.
- Get enough sleep every night.
- Eat healthy and regularly.
- Avoid unhelpful substances, like caffeine and alcohol.
- Use relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Distinguish between what is within your control and what is not.
- Pay attention to your self-talk: are you being positive or negative with yourself? Compassionate or critical?
- Use journaling to explore your thoughts, express emotions, and engage in problem-solving.
- Identify things you are grateful for--gratitude helps remind us of the positive things in our day-to-day life that we might be taking for granted or fail to notice.
Anxiety Toolbox Workshop Video Series:
You can now watch our workshop series online! The goal of this workshop is to provide you with life-long tools you can use while facing anxiety-triggering situations. Access the corresponding helpful handouts here.