If you’ve been struggling with anxious thoughts, you’re probably aware that finding healthy ways to deal with anxiety is vital to living a life of well-being. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Feeling anxious about anxiety can morph into compounding feelings of anxiety.
- The best ways to deal with anxiety generally do not involve more thinking.
- Many of the best ways to deal with anxiety revolve around performing activities that allow you to enter into a flow state where you can step away from anxious thoughts.
The Best Ways To Cope With Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are both normal human emotions. We all feel stress and anxiety from time to time, and they can actually be positive. In short bursts, stress can serve as a motivator that helps us push through difficult times. Similarly, anxiety can signal that something is wrong so we can do something about it. Once the root issue is resolved, anxious thoughts often go away.
Stress and anxiety become problematic when they do not go away. When these unpleasant emotional states become chronic, they significantly degrade quality of life and a sense of well-being in the individual. Additionally, chronic stress and anxiety are often signals that deeper life issues may need to be resolved if lasting well-being is to be achieved.
Anxiety is fueled by thought patterns that you have no control over in the present moment. Those thought patterns are often cyclical, so in the moment, one of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to find an activity that helps you step away from your thoughts altogether.
Whether you struggle with chronic anxiety or not, it is vital to learn and practice healthy ways of dealing with anxiety. The good news is that you have plenty of options you can experiment with from the comfort of home.
Some of the best activities and strategies for dealing with anxiety include:
9 Activities for Coping With Anxiety Right Now
1. Aerobic Exercise and Yoga
We always recommend exercise as one of the healthiest ways to deal with anxiety, and with good reason. Studies have shown evidence that aerobic exercise can help your brain better manage stress. In fact, it can be more effective at treating anxiety than medication.
One study found that exercise increases the size of the area of the brain responsible for mood regulation. Another study found that people who participate in regular vigorous exercise are 25 percent less likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
When you start feeling anxious, simply going for a walk, run, swim, or workout is one of the easiest, healthiest ways to cope, but aerobic exercise is not the only physical activity that can help you cope with anxiety.
Yoga has also been shown to be helpful with trauma and realigning body rhythms.
Cooking provides another healthy coping strategy for anxiety. Even therapists have begun recommending cooking as an option for treating depression and anxiety. It can simultaneously help you reduce stress, build confidence, limit negative thought patterns, and eat healthier.
The act of cooking is an effective way to cope with anxiety because it forces you to focus on creating a recipe. When you stay focused on the act of cooking, anxious thoughts may dissipate, and when you finish cooking, you benefit from the satisfaction of creating a meal and then eating it. One study even found that cooking may also provide psychosocial benefits such as improved self-esteem, quality of life, and affect.
With enough practice, you may even start sharing your cooking with others as an additional way to alleviate anxiety!
Gardening is not only an ideal activity to pair with cooking—it’s also beneficial for your health. It can reduce depression and anxiety while increasing quality of life and community.
4. Practicing Mindfulness
There is a reason you will see mindfulness exercises recommended on nearly any list about how to deal with anxiety. Simply sitting with your thoughts and learning to observe them rather than trying to control or change them is actually an effective way to deal with anxiety.
When we feel anxious, we want to make the unpleasant emotional state “go away.” Unfortunately, the harder we try to eliminate anxiety, the more anxious we feel. Practicing mindfulness exercises like meditation and breathing techniques can help people learn to deal with anxious thoughts in a more peaceful manner instead of trying to fight them.
5. Creating Art
If you are having a hard time getting into a flow state by practicing mindfulness, creating art is another option to explore! It does not matter whether you consider yourself artistic or not. Simply trying to create something can help take your mind off whatever is causing your anxiety. The satisfaction of making something new can also provide a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and accomplishment.
For people who might be more comfortable expressing themselves with words, writing can also help alleviate anxiety. Writing provides an opportunity to put words to everything going on in your head. When used as a tool for self-reflection, the act of writing can help you better understand your thoughts and feelings, and it also provides an opportunity to share or connect with others who may be struggling with similar issues.
If reflective writing does not alleviate the anxiety, more creative forms of writing are also worth exploring, such as poetry or fiction. If you do not know where to start, ask yourself what the world would look like if you could control the things making you anxious. Try writing about that and see if you learn anything.
Preliminary studies have shown that the practice of aromatherapy can have therapeutic benefits in regard to alleviating anxiety. The scent of lavender, in particular, has been documented to significantly reduce anxiety levels. The great thing is that it requires little to no effort for you to experience the benefits. All you have to do is breathe!
8. 15 Minutes of Sunshine
Simply stepping outside and getting some sunshine can help alleviate anxiety. When sunlight enters the eye, it triggers the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is known to improve mood while also helping the body stay focused and calm.
9. Start a Conversation
Connection is an excellent remedy for anxious thoughts. Having a conversation with someone else can provide an easy outlet for anxious thoughts.
4 Lifestyle Improvements To Deal With Anxiety Over Time
1. Practicing a Routine
Anxiety may be driven by a sense that something is “wrong” and we lack the control to do anything about it. Many times, the things causing anxiety are out of our control to some degree. One thing that can help individuals regain a sense of control over their lives is establishing and practicing a daily routine. Having structure to fall back on when anxious thoughts enter your mind provides a straightforward way to move forward with your life rather than getting hung up on anxious thought patterns.
2. Opening Up
Bottling up anxious thoughts may actually make them worse. When you feel anxious, faking it until you make it is often detrimental. Again, anxiety might be a signal that something is wrong. If you ignore that anxiety, you may be missing an opportunity to identify a deeper issue and move forward with your life. If you are struggling to identify the sources of your anxiety, simply talking about what is bothering can provide an opportunity for release, reflection, and connection.
3. Learning Acceptance
Ultimately, one of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to learn and practice acceptance both within yourself and with others. When your anxiety is rooted in things you cannot always control, you have to be able to learn how to accept them so you can move forward with your life.
4. Nutrition and Healthy Eating
A healthy diet plays an important role in mood regulation. If you enjoy cooking and gardening, it is easy to see how the activities you enjoy on a regular basis feed into a more balanced lifestyle of well-being.
Our Multifaceted Approach Revolves Around Lifestyle Improvement
At PCH, we developed our approach with the above recommendations top of mind. We do not aim to get rid of the issues troubling you. Instead, we focus on helping you cultivate a mindset and lifestyle that promotes your well-being, and we can help you learn new skills and activities to deal with acute forms of anxiety.
Can PCH Help You Deal With Anxiety?
If you try the above strategies and are still struggling with anxiety, do not be discouraged. You might have to dig a little deeper to uncover the root causes of your anxious thoughts. If you need help finding healthy coping strategies for anxiety, find out if PCH is right for you.