28 coping strategies for anxiety

Anxiety can be an overwhelming part of life- sometimes it can feel like it consumes a person. Whether you are struggling with anxiety on a daily basis, or you only experience it on certain occasions... it is important to have some coping skills for when you feel anxious. 

Throughout my research in anxiety and my experience in helping others struggling with it, I have found several coping strategies that can help people with anxiety. My hope is that at least 1-4 of these strategies can be useful to you. 

Disclaimer: If you are experiencing severe anxiety I suggest contacting a therapist to help you find the best plan. 

Here are 28 strategies to help manage your anxiety:

1. Deep Breathing 

  • This is an amazing way to ease some of your anxiety. When we get anxious, our breathing gets more shallow. When we take a few minutes to do some deep breathing, we can relax our body. When our body feels relaxed, we feel more safe and less anxious. Here is a deep breathing exercise by CALM on YouTube. 

2. Mindfulness

  • According to Oxford Languages mindfulness is "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique". When we are able to accept our feelings, thoughts, and body, we can refocus our minds on the important things in life. There are many amazing mindfulness exercises and meditations out there. I promise that I am not sponsored by CALM, but they really do have some awesome videos on mindfulness! Their app is another great resource.   

3. Take a break

  • Sometimes all we need is a nice break to ease some of our anxieties. This might sound weird, but bathroom breaks at work/school can be a lifesaver... even if you don't have to go to the bathroom. Make sure that you are taking breaks throughout your day to stay alert, energetic, and less anxious. 

4. Listen to relaxing music/sounds 

  • Listening to relaxing music can help you feel more relaxed. And the great part is that there are thousands of songs that you get to choose. Here is on video of relaxing music

5. Massage

  • If you don’t have the time or the money to get a professional massage, I suggest try massaging your arms, legs, and hands. The Mayo Clinic says, "A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent".

6. Drink water

  • Stay hydrated so that your body can function to its full potential. Drinking water can calm your body and give you the hydration you need. If you hate water, try flavored water at first!

7. Journal your emotions and physical symptoms 

  • Sometimes we just need to write down what we are feeling. This helps us process the anxiety that we are experiencing. This may help you pinpoint why you are feeling anxious. Here is a blog post by Amosuir who gives journal prompts on anxiety. 

8. Let others know how they can help you

  • Talk to trusted individuals who can help you when you are feeling anxious. You can prepare your trusted person so that they can best respond to your experience. You can let them know that you need alone time or that you need a hug. It is important to let loved ones know how they can best support you.

9. Find a quiet space

  • It's easy to become overstimulated when you are feeling anxious. Find a place to quiet your mind and re-center. 

10. Dim the lights 

  • This may be out of your control if you are at school or work. But if you are experiencing anxiety at home or a place where you can dim the lights, this is a great opportunity to relax your body and decompress. 

11. Draw a picture

  • No matter how old you are, drawing is very therapeutic! 

12. Work on a puzzle

  • It can be any type of puzzle: jigsaw, sudoku, crossword, Rubik's cube... whatever is going to get your mind off of the stressor. Here is a website with some free online-jigsaw puzzles

13. Essential oils

  • You might be pleasantly surprised how calming essential oils can be. It may not work for everyone, but this is a great way to calm your body. Find a smell that works for you! I personally enjoy lavender. 

14. Eat a healthy snack

  • When having we are experiencing anxiety, our bodies are not in equilibrium. Having a healthy snack can help your body understand that you are safe. A fruit or veggie snack is a great quick and healthy snack. 

15. Light a candle

  • I personally love candles! There are many scented candles to choose from! Not only are scented candles nice to smell, it can also be calming to look at the flame. I personally recommend the candles at Bath & Body Works

16. Drink a caffeine-free tea

  • Warm tea can ease anxiety. I suggest non-caffeinated because caffeine is actually known to trigger anxiety. Therefore, if you are looking for a nice warm drink, I suggest a caffeine-free tea. 

17. Count

  • Calm your body by slowly counting to 20 (outload or silently). 

18. Talk to a trusted person

  • Talking about your worries and struggles is therapeutic. Make sure that you pick a trusted individual to talk to. 

19. Yoga

  • Yoga is a very peaceful type of exercise. If you want to try yoga, I suggest trying first watching some YouTube videos and trying it at home! Yoga with Kassandra is a great yoga channel.

20. Run

  • When individuals experience panic attacks, their heart rate increases. This is scary for many individuals because it can feel like they do not have control over their body. Running can simulate the increase heart rate that happens in running, and releasing those cortisol chemicals in a healthy way. 

21. Other forms of exercise 

  • Any exercise is a great way to cope with anxiety!

22. Take a shower or a bath

  • Relax your body with a nice warm bath or shower.

23. Make lists

  • Writing a list of what you need to accomplish can help ease some anxiety. Visually seeing your tasks can help you realize that you have less than you thought! Additionally, you can cross off each task as you get them done to help you stay organized and focused. 

24. Pet an animal

  • Petting an animal is a great way to relax (if you like animals). It is amazing what therapy animals can do to help people! UCLA has done some amazing research on animal-assisted-therapy.

25. Spend time in nature

  • Go to the beach, take a hike on a trail, or have a picnic at the park!

26. Positive self-talk

  • Anxiety can stem from cognitive distortions in our brains. We may have negative self-talk. We need to change the way our brain thinks, so that we can try to see life in a positive perspective. 

27. Use other apps and resources 

  • Nowadays there are many apps, websites, and resources to help individuals struggling with anxiety. I personally love the CALM app (as you already know). Here is a link to some other great resources. 

28. Consult with your therapist and/or doctor

  • I've listed some great coping skills, but sometimes individuals need a medical professional to help them with their anxiety. If you are struggling with anxiety, I would suggest talking to a professional about your situation. I've heard great things about Better Help (online therapy) if you are interested in trying that.

I hope these coping strategies were helpful to you! I know there are even more than this! Maybe I'll write another blog post about other ones! Anxiety is difficult to struggle with, but I know you can do it! I know you are going to do great things!

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