Anxiety is the feeling of fear or uneasiness related to some future event that has an uncertain outcome, meaning that the event we fear may not happen at all. Despite knowing an event is uncertain, anxiety is still a common experience most people go through, whether they are aware of it or not. It’s a feeling that can quickly overwhelm our minds and impede our day-to-day lives if we don’t carefully manage or acknowledge it.
Fortunately, the feelings of fear, anxiety, and uneasiness can be managed. Below are a few key tips and tricks for reducing feelings of anxiety and overcoming fears both proactively and in the moment when you are overwhelmed.
- Recognizing the signs and symptoms. You may be experiencing fear or anxiety and not even realize it. Common symptoms of fear include startled responses, flinching, constant trepidation, nervous reactions, and feeling relieved when a perceived threat is gone. Anxiety symptoms can include dissociation, a high heart rate, shaking, trouble sleeping, being unable to relax, and a lack of focus. Labeling how you are feeling as either fear or anxiety can be the first step in managing it.
- Be mindful of your feelings when they occur. Identifying when you feel anxious can help you begin identifying your triggers. What feelings and symptoms do you experience when you feel anxious? Are there patterns? Is there a common location or situation? Identify your physical cues to get a better feel for your triggers.
- Use a number rating system. When we go to the doctor for a painful issue, we will usually be asked to rate our pain on a scale from zero to ten. Try doing this for your feelings of anxiety and fear. When you feel anxious, rate your level of fear. Write down this rating and try to identify your triggers. With this written record, you’ll be able to note where most of your anxiety comes from so you can either confront it or reduce your exposure to it. You can keep these notes in your phone, so that you will always have it handy, or even send yourself a text message to keep track of your feelings.
- Take ownership of your fear. When feeling intense anxiety or fear, you might find yourself trying to bury those emotions; this can be overwhelming. Rather than using up your emotional energy on fighting or burying these feelings, allow yourself to experience these emotions in a safe space.
- Learn to breathe. Breathing is a powerful tool to help manage our bodily responses to fear and anxiety and relieve the overwhelming feelings. Deep, mindful breathing prompts your parasympathetic nervous system to help calm you down. Try slowly counting your breath in and slowly counting your breath out so that they match.
- Focus on positivity. It may not be surprising that when we are repeatedly exposed to negative situations and stimuli, it becomes very difficult to recognize the potential positives in those situations. Rather than trying to focus on positives in a negative situation, try creating positivity in your life where it doesn’t exist. For example: You may have isolated yourself due to your anxiety. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or joining a club to generate social interactions and thus, positivity.
- Remove yourself from where you are stuck. You might be feeling anxiety or fear when you are around too many people or when your environment is too distracting. A walk through nature can be incredibly therapeutic for such scenarios. A state park or local trail will usually be quiet, full of fresh air, and relaxing. Sometimes, getting away from stressors for a short amount of time will significantly reduce feelings of fear and anxiety.
- Redirect your imagination. Anxiety and fear can be made worse by intrusive thoughts. If you’re stuck inside without much to do, it’s easy for your mind to wander, thus feeding your mind with uncomfortable, negative thoughts. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole of negative thinking, use your imagination for positive things. Go to your happy place, think of a positive memory, or someone that makes you feel comforted.
- Find support. Know that you are not alone when facing your fears and anxiety, but sometimes you may need to take the first step in reaching out to someone for help. When seeking support, you could reach out to a friend or loved one and chat about it. Additionally, there are support groups for anxiety and fears that connect you with others who are going through the same things. Professional therapists are also an option that can provide you with personalized, clinical support. No matter which type of support you opt for, you’re not alone.
This is not medical advice and should not replace the advice you receive from a health care provider. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website or in any linked materials. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone immediately.
How was our guide to facing fear and anxiety? We want to hear which tip helped you the most in the comments below.