Coping Skills For Anxiety

Alex Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW
Individual, Couples & Family Therapy
IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor
Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.

Posted by: Alex Robboy
CAS, MSW, LCSW Individual, Couples & Family Therapy IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.
267-324-9564

Coping Skills for Anxiety / Anxiety Treatment in Philadelphia

Anxiety Treatment in Philadelphia: Coping skills for anxiety: As you may already know, anxiety is a normal feeling and a typical reaction to many events in everyday life.  It can help us get motivated to get projects done quicker and better than we thought we could do them. However, anxiety can also bring about pressure. Some people work better under pressure.  But others may feel overwhelmed and cannot function at all. Sometimes it gets out of hand. 

How do you know if your anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressor or a deeper-rooted issue? The way to identify this is to look at how your anxiety is affecting your daily life.  If it’s work that’s causing the stress, can you leave work at work? If there is an issue at home, can you leave it at home? Or do they follow you around?  Does that report due Tuesday morning haunt you at dinner with you family Friday night? Do you find yourself unable to concentrate on your e-mails after a fight over breakfast?  Have you become more irritable or depressed lately? What about changes in your eating and sleeping habits? Sometimes anxiety manifests itself as physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, inability to sleep, lack of concentration, feeling nauseous, feeling keyed up or tense all day long, or loss and/or increase of appetite.  If you notice any of these changes, your body is telling you that your anxiety is no longer at a normal level and it’s time to start making a change to deal with it.
 
There are many ways to deal with anxiety and some work well for some people and not so well for others.  Talking through your stress with a friend or loved one may help you analyze the situations and create a solution to keep you anxiety at bay.  If you’re feeling that your stress is out of control you may wish to speak with a therapist.  A therapist can offer a non-judgmental ear to listen and objective solutions and coping strategies to deal with your anxiety.  This tip will also help you gain some control over your anxiety by offering 5 coping strategies for anxiety.

1.Acknowledge the thought … then put it away. (coping skills for anxiety)  If you are sitting at home on a weekend afternoon worrying about the project you left on your desk at work Friday morning and it’s causing you to be distracted from the arts and crafts you are doing with your family; take a minute and acknowledge the thought.  As soon as you acknowledge that you had the thought and that it made you anxious, you have to let it go and put it away till a time comes when you can worry about it.  You may be thinking how do I do that?  Its as easy as letting yourself think the worrisome thought.  Say to yourself, “Yes I left that project half finished and its making me upset right now because I’ll have a lot of work on Monday.”  Then to put the thought away till a more appropriate time, say: “But I am not in my office and therefore I cant do anything about it right now so there is no use dragging this out during family time.” This strategy is designed to address your concerns by allowing you to feel worried but to help you move on by choosing to look at the situation realistically rather than letting it take over your day.  By acknowledging that you feel anxiety and choosing to deal with it at a later time, you are taking back control.

2.Assign a time to worry. (coping skills for anxiety) Coping skill two is designed to pick up where number one left off.  So you had an anxious thought, you acknowledged the thought and the feeling that followed it, and you put it aside to be dealt with later.  Well now it’s later.  You can’t hide from anxiety forever.  In fact, trying to do just that will only make it worse when you do have to confront it.  So for this skill you will be designating a specific time and place to address all your worries.  It is best to choose a place that is quiet, but not your bedroom.  Try not to bring stress into the place you want to use for sleep. Choose a comfy spot like a den or living room.  Pick an appropriate amount of time to deal with your level of stress but do not go over one hour per week.  Then pick a day and time and schedule it. Let’s say Monday’s from 5 to 6 pm.  When that time comes, have a seat, and think about your worries from the past week.  Feel the anxiety if there still is any.  Try to think of solutions for the problems that have one.  Identify when you will deal with them.  (Skill 3 will help with this as well.) Be sure to have a way to know when your worry time is up like using a timer. When it goes off, you’re done till next week.

3.Make a to-do list. (coping skills for anxiety) To-do lists can be a wonderful way to ease anxiety.  If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks you need to complete in a day or week, writing them down in a list can help you see exactly what needs to be done.  You can even use the list to prioritize what needs to be done when.  If you need to do work on a project at work that’s due in 2 weeks, but don’t have any clean pants for dinner tomorrow night, your list will help you see that laundry is a priority to worry about today and the project can probably wait till tomorrow. Another beneficial thing about to-do lists is that you can create a sense of accomplishment when you finish a task. Isn’t it a great feeling to look at your list, cross something off, and say, “Yes I did it!”  However, there is one caveat to mention when creating to-do lists.  They can drag on forever and ever.  If you’re prone to high anxiety, using a to-do list to prioritize can help but don’t let it be a burden.  If you find yourself stressed out even more because of your coping strategy… well then it’s just not working. The to-do list is not meant to be overbearing, just a simple way to organize your tasks to take the edge off.

4.Deep breathing. (coping skills for anxiety) Deep breathing is an exercise designed to aid relaxation and to slow the body down.  Many people who report having anxiety say that they have physical symptoms too, such as a racing heart beat, shortness of breath, nausea, shaking, and muscle tension.  When these symptoms are present, the person with anxiety may begin to feel like they are going a mile a minute.  Then it is crucial to calmly slow down their breathing.  To do this, we teach a technique called deep breathing.  To begin, start my closing your eyes and inhaling for a count of about 5 seconds.  Make sure your breath is slow and deep.  Focus on the feeling of air filling your lungs.  Hold the breath for 1 second.  Notice any sensations that change within your body. Can you feel your heart rate go down?  Do your lugs feel full? Did your diaphragm and chest rise with the breath? Now release or exhale the breath using the same count of about 5 seconds. Again, focus on the feeling of air leaving your lungs and chest now.  What sensations change with the exhale?  Does your chest feel lighter? Do you feel more or less energized? Has your heart beat slowed down? Now pause for one more second and repeat the inhale, hold, exhale, pause pattern 12 to 15 more times.  Remember focus solely on your breaths and the sensations that change with each inhale and exhale. Use this exercise twice a day to reduce anxiety, tension, and to slow your body down and become present in the moment.

5.Visualization. (coping skills for anxiety) Visualization is a great technique to use to reduce anxiety but especially to reduce performance anxiety. Loads of people use visualization in their daily lives to reduce stress and enhance performance.  Think of a star football player who is having trouble catching passes.  He may use visualization to “see” himself catching the pass in stride and running it in to the end zone for the touchdown.  Visualization may be difficult at first because it is a skill that is used to “shut off” your brain and therefore stop the anxious thoughts.  However, with dedicated practice, you can learn to use this skill to see relaxing scenes, or to visualize yourself performing at your peak.  To start, get comfortable. This means loose, soft clothing, sitting in a comfortable chair in a softly lit room and NO DISTRACTIONS.  Reserve about 15 minutes for this exercise.  Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths like you learned in step 4.  Continue to breathe deeply but instead of solely focusing on the breath and sensations; allow your mind to go blank for a second then try to pull up a relaxing scene.  Maybe a sunny day at the beach with the tide coming in.  Or perhaps you are sitting in a field looking up at the clouds drift by.  Whatever is soothing to you.  Focus on this picture and allow the scene to play out for a few minutes.  Remember to keep breathing slowly.  Next, let the scene change to a task that you may be anxious about.  If you begin to feel anxious, acknowledge it but stay with the task at hand, your visualization.  Watch the scene unfold for a few more minutes.  While “seeing” yourself do the challenging task, imagine that what you need to do goes absolutely perfect. Feel a sense of accomplishment and relief.  You did it! You overcame your anxiety and completed the task.  Continue your deep breathing and switch back to “seeing” yourself in that calm and soothing scene you pictured before.  Sit with this for a few minutes.  How do you feel? Do you feel better about the task? Are you encouraged to get right to work? Has your anxiety lessened? Ask these questions and try to focus on how well you saw yourself complete your project.  Remember in your scene you did it perfect! Take that feeling with you. Take a few more breaths, then open your eyes and come back to the here and now with a relaxed confident mood.

Struggling? Call a counselor at Center for Growth / Anxiety Treatment in Philadelphia and schedule an appointment.  267-324-9564