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Anxiety: Symptoms & Coping Strategies

Two anxious individuals in a field surrounded by mountains

“Go easy on yourself. Whatever you do today, let it be enough.”

Anxiety defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes such as increased blood pressure.

Anxiety may vary from individual to individual as not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Some individuals may have more physical symptoms of anxiety thus, making it easier to tell they are anxious. Others do not and so, it can be very hard to tell that they are coping with anxiety.

Some common symptoms of anxiety are the following:

  • Restlessness and a feeling of being “on-edge”
  • Uncontrollable worry
  • Increased irritability
  • thoughts about the unknown
  • thoughts about “What Ifs?”
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Sleep difficulties

If you are dealing with anxiety, there are a great number of ways which can help (although what works for some may not work for others)!

Short Term Coping Strategies:

1. Go for a walk or do 15 minutes of yoga (tuning into the present moment).

  • Here, you will be taking time to focus on your body, giving the mind an opportunity to rest.

2. Practice focused, deep breathing

  • Try breathing in for 4 counts and breathing out for 4 counts for 5 minutes. Here, you will be slowing down your heart rate which could help calm you down physically and emotionally.

3. Brain dumping

  • Writing down the things making you anxious will help get it out of your head and can assist your mind to shift focus.

Long Term Coping Strategies:

1. Psychotherapy

  • It can be very beneficial to seek external help. Talking to someone can help gain better understanding of your experience of anxiety and what may influence how anxiety impacts you, as well as ways you can cope and manage anxiety.

2. Adopt a daily routine or meditate

  • Training the mind on a daily basis to relax can help the brain rewire anxious thought patterns.

3. Keep a journal

  • Creating a habit of writing down thoughts and emotions can help relieve the mind and calm down anxious thoughts. Having a journal can also aid in allowing you to see what possibly triggers anxious thoughts patterns. 

REMINDER: Take the time to breathe and focus on the now. Wherever the mind takes you, remind yourself that you are not your thoughts If you are feeling restless, take the day and try some of the coping mechanisms listed above and do one thing for YOU, you deserve it.

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References:

Written by: Liza AL-Nakash, HBSC, Neuroscience Specialist

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