What is the Best Way to Manage Anxiety?

Mental Health Therapy

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you’ll likely be familiar with the heart-thumping, stomach-churning, and often disturbing feelings associated with this condition.

Anxiety disorders are prevalent worldwide.

In the United States alone, around one in five adults experience symptoms of an anxiety disorder at some stage.

Other studies show that approximately one in four young adults aged thirteen to eighteen live with anxiety.

In addition, research shows that many anxiety sufferers also have other mental health problems. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions to co-occur with anxiety. Nearly 50 per cent of those diagnosed with anxiety are also diagnosed with depression.  

Furthermore, it’s common for individuals with anxiety to experience multiple anxiety disorders simultaneously (Mental Health America). For example, a person with generalised anxiety disorder may also experience separation anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a treatable condition

The good news is that anxiety is a treatable condition, provided you take the necessary steps to manage your symptoms.

This article will explore anxiety, its symptoms, and effective treatments that can help.

Common symptoms of anxiety

Feeling anxious sometimes is normal, and each person will experience anxiety in different ways. But if uncontrollable worry and anxious thoughts are disrupting your life, it can become a real problem that requires professional help.

It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms that indicate simple anxiety has crossed the line and become an anxiety disorder. The symptoms may be physical, mental and emotional.

young sad man sitting by the window in regret

Some common symptoms of anxiety that most people experience include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Racing thoughts
  • Sweaty palms
  • Trembling
  • Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feelings of dread or impending doom
  • Hyperventilation
  • Difficulty concentrating or loss of focus
  • Muscle tension
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Anxiety can also involve a combination of unpleasant feelings, including apprehension, helplessness and worry.

Once triggered, you may feel like you have no control over your thoughts, body sensations and surroundings. You may also experience additional physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, pins and needles in certain body parts, and shaking.

Common anxiety triggers

Anxiety can be cumulative, where you may experience anxiety symptoms due to a build-up of stress over time. 

It may also have an underlying medical cause, such as heart disease, a respiratory disorder, or a side effect of certain medications.

On the other hand, many people experience anxiety without knowing the exact cause. This can lead to confusion and heightened anxiety symptoms, creating a vicious circle.

Some people also experience anxiety as part of another mental health condition, such as depression, trauma, or substance use disorder.

Whatever the cause of your anxiety, it can help to recognise your triggers so you can manage your symptoms when they appear.

Common anxiety triggers include the following:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Negative thinking
  • Financial worries
  • Specific locations, places and people may trigger anxious thoughts
  • Social or public events
  • Stimulants such as caffeine
  • Skipping meals, leading to a drop in blood sugar levels
  • Having another mental health disorder, such as depression or substance abuse
  • Claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces)
  • Chronic work stress
  • Relationship problems, including divorce or separation
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Withdrawal from specific drugs or medication
  • Chronic pain

Anxiety triggers may vary, depending on many factors such as your history, genetics, environment, and whether you have any other physical or mental health conditions.

However, once you figure out your anxiety triggers, ideally with the help of a therapist, you can begin practising effective coping strategies to help you better manage your symptoms.

Techniques for coping with anxiety

Fortunately, there are various strategies to help you cope with anxiety. Some effective strategies for managing anxiety include:

Breathing exercises

Your breath is one of the most powerful tools you can use to help with anxiety. 

There are many types of breathing exercise that can help ground you in the present moment and ease the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate and shortness of breath.

Focusing on the things you can change

Anxious thoughts can be brought on by attempting to control everything around you.

A helpful way to manage your anxiety is to focus on the things you can change. For example, you may sweep the leaves from the driveway or take the dog for a walk.

Concentrating on activities within your control can help alleviate your anxious thoughts and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Doing some gentle exercise

Yoga

Moving our bodies can help change the direction of our thoughts. During an anxious episode, you may shift the focus to your body by going for a long walk in the park or by doing some gentle yoga exercises.

Gentle movement can do wonders for those with anxiety and can help boost a person’s mood, helping to alleviate anxious thoughts and feelings.

Managing your diet

Eating regularly and not skipping meals will help to keep your blood sugar stable, which can make a difference to your mood, energy levels, and anxiety symptoms.

In addition, certain ‘feel good’ foods have been shown to reduce anxiety, and can be an easy (and safe) first step to managing anxiety.  

Keeping a journal

A 2018 study found that people who journaled regularly experienced a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms. Keeping a journal can help with organising your thoughts and processing them in a healthy way – helping to quiet the mind and ease symptoms.

Trying complementary and alternative therapies

Many people find that alternative therapies help with their anxiety symptoms if used regularly. Therapies that can help you to relax and improve your sleep patterns include yoga, meditation, massage, reiki, reflexology, and aromatherapy.

There are numerous guided meditations for anxiety available on the internet, for example, on YouTube.

Longer-term strategies for managing anxiety

Biking with friends

Short-term strategies for managing anxiety can be helpful when symptoms present themselves. However, having a longer-term anxiety management plan can be incredibly beneficial and may help you feel less anxious in the long run.

Strategies for managing anxiety may include a combination of approaches and techniques, such as:

Many people find speaking to a therapist about their anxiety concerns helpful.

A mental health professional can help you get to the root cause of your anxiety, learn more about the condition, and suggest various treatment options that can help you reduce your symptoms, such as talking therapy, trauma treatment, and mindfulness therapy.

The difference between an anxiety attack vs a panic attack

The symptoms of an anxiety attack can be similar to panic attacks. However, it’s important to know the difference between these two conditions to help you get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Panic attack symptoms

Mental health professionals describe panic attacks as:

“A sudden onset of intense fear in the absence of an actual threat or danger.” (What Is The Difference Between Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack, Betterhelp, January 26th, 2023).

Symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

Panic attacks can occur suddenly and may only last a short time.

The suddenness of a panic attack can be the most frightening aspect of this condition. 

People often experience panic attacks out of nowhere, making them all the more terrifying when they happen.

Panic attacks typically last for around five to 20 minutes, but some people may experience them for up to an hour.

Anxiety attack symptoms

Anxiety attacks are typically associated with more long-term mental health conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

Anxiety symptoms tend to build gradually over time and can last for months, whereas panic attacks occur suddenly and only last a short while.

Studies show the main differences between anxiety and panic attacks are that the following symptoms usually only accompany panic attacks and not anxiety attacks:

  • Intense fear of dying or losing control
  • Detachment from the self. This is called depersonalisation.
  • A feeling of separation from the world and your surroundings. This is called derealisation.

Anxiety is a term used to describe several mental illnesses in the category of anxiety disorders, such as trauma-related conditions and obsessive-compulsive disorders. (Panic Attack vs Anxiety Attack: How They Differ, Sheryl Ankrom, MS, LCPC, February 13th, 2023, Verywell Mind).

Speaking to a mental health professional about your anxiety concerns

Behavioural therapy - Centres for Health and Healing

If you or someone you know are struggling with anxiety, support and help is always available.

The first step to getting the care and treatment you need is to speak to an experienced professional who can advise you on the next steps.

You do not need to suffer in silence. Various treatment options can help you manage your anxiety, allowing you to regain control and empowerment in your life.

Specific treatments can help individuals manage any fears or phobias they may have and can also alleviate anxiety symptoms. These treatments include the following:

  • Exposure therapy – helps you overcome phobias or fears by confronting them repeatedly under the guidance of a trained therapist.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – helps you to explore and change any destructive thoughts and behavioural patterns that may be causing or exacerbating your anxiety. CBT teaches healthier coping strategies allowing you to reframe your anxious thoughts so they no longer have as much power over you.
  • Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) – is effective for treating those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR treatment is used for those who have experienced trauma or other distressing events and can help with trauma-related symptoms such as flashbacks, upsetting images or thoughts, avoidance behaviours and anxiety.

Anxiety treatment and Centres for Health and Healing

Centres for Health and Healing treat and diagnose various addiction and mental health disorders, including anxiety.

Our anxiety treatment program addresses and treats the various symptoms of anxiety, which in our experience, are often a combination of emotional, physical and behavioural.

We adopt a trauma-informed approach to treating anxiety disorders at our centre, treating the ‘whole’ person, not just their symptoms. We achieve this by combining traditional methods with ancient wisdom to ensure deep transformational healing and lasting recovery.

We also provide aftercare and support programs designed to help you stay on track with your recovery after completing a treatment program at our centre. These supportive measures help reinforce the vital principles learned during treatment, including practising healthy coping skills and relapse prevention strategies.

We provide personalised treatment to clients with a wide range of anxiety issues, including an individualised approach to treatment that meets each person’s unique needs, preferences and treatment goals.

Our purpose is to help you overcome anxiety by providing the necessary tools and resources to help you maintain lasting recovery and wellness. 

And you deserve that gift.

You do not need to suffer alone. We are here and ready to guide you every step of the way.

Contact our specialist team in Ontario for further advice and support about our anxiety treatment program.

Additional resources

  1. How common is anxiety? Mental Health America
  2. Do You Live With Anxiety? Here are 13 Ways To Cope, Ally Hirschlag. Healthline, June 2 2022
  3. What You Can Do to Cope With Anxiety, Katharina Star, PhD. Verywell Mind, February 15 2022
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