Strategies for Anxiety Management in Everyday Situations

March 25, 2024

The National Institute of Mental Health states that 31% of US adults face at least one anxiety disorder in their lives. The issue is so prevalent that some experts have declared an anxiety epidemic. But what can you realistically do to introduce strategies for anxiety management in your everyday life? Keep reading as we explore that and much more in this article.

What Are Common Triggers for Anxiety in Everyday Life?

Some of the most common triggers for anxiety include:
  • Stress in school or at work: Workload, exams, deadlines, and performance expectations can overwhelm many people
  • Financial worries: Bills, debts, and economic instability may trigger anxiety
  • Social interactions: Public speaking, social events, or meeting new people sounds daunting to many
  • Health issues: The health troubles of a loved one or personal health concerns can increase anxiety
  • Family and relationship issues: Concerns or conflicts about relationships with friends, family, or partners are a source of anxiety for many
  • Changes and uncertainty: Switching jobs, moving, or any significant life change can provoke anxiety
  • Trauma: Past traumatic events may trigger anxiety when the person sees reminders of the trauma or otherwise recalls it
  • Negative thinking patterns: Fear of failure, pessimism, and negative self-talk can fuel anxiety
  • Overcommitment: Lacking downtime or taking on too many commitments often leads to feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Substance use: Alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and some medications can cause anxiety in some people
Now that you’re aware of the common triggers for anxiety in your day-to-day, let’s explore how you can recognize the early signs.

How to Recognize the Early Signs of Anxiety in Yourself

Most health issues can be nipped in the bud if you identify them early on. The same applies to anxiety and anxiety disorders.
So, here are a few warning signs you can spot by yourself:
  • Restlessness: Feeling on edge or unusually restless, as if you can’t relax or need to constantly move around
  • Excessive worrying: This refers to fretting too much about everyday stuff, small or big, although the likelihood of it transpiring is actually slim
  • Irritability: A short fuse, grumpiness, or crankiness, especially if it’s out of character
  • Focus problems: Anxiety often makes it hard to focus on tasks, work, and chores
  • Sleep disruptions and disturbances: You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or experience unrestful sleep
  • Muscle tension: Clenching your jaw, persistent muscle tension, or unconsciously balling your fists
  • Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired, brain-fogged, or fatigued, although you slept plenty. This early sign often co-occurs with excessive worrying and muscle tension
  • Physical symptoms: Rapid breathing, heart rate, sweating, dizziness, trembling, or gastrointestinal problems
  • Avoidance of others: Avoiding people, places, or situations because they make you anxious or you’re afraid they could trigger anxiety
  • Panic attacks: Intense, sudden episodes of panic or fear, including symptoms like shaking, palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, or a feeling of impending doom

If you suspect you might be a victim of an anxiety disorder and experience any of the symptoms above, reputable anxiety treatment centers in Tennessee offer tried-and-tested therapies. Dedicated professionals will do a thorough evaluation and help you find the best ways to manage anxiety effectively.

Young man covers his face with his hands, feeling lost because his anxiety management strategies are failing him
Anxiety management skills can be honed if practiced diligently

In any case, you came to this article to learn how to manage anxiety. So, let’s explore powerful and timely strategies for anxiety management in your daily life.

What Strategies Can You Employ for Anxiety Management?

You can use many anxiety management techniques to lessen the burden of the tension you feel, as long as you tailor them to your needs.

Some of these anxiety management skills include:

  1. Regular mindfulness practice
  2. Physical activity and exercise
  3. Dietary considerations
  4. Quality sleep
  5. Supportive network
  6. Routines
  7. Deep breathing
  8. Technology and apps

Yes! Managing anxiety without medication is possible, as we’ll demonstrate now.

So, let’s delve deep into each of the eight points above in more detail.

#1: Mindfulness

Mindfulness teachers have known this for ages: mindfulness reduces rumination, enhances emotional regulation, and even helps you develop anxiety management skills.

But how does it actually happen? Well, here’s the gist:

  • Body scans teach you to lie down comfortably and slowly bring your attention to your head, hands, legs, and other body parts. While doing so, notice tension, sensations, or discomfort without judging them.
  • Sensory awareness suggests you pay attention to your five senses. In other words, notice what you can hear, see, touch, taste, and smell around you. This activity helps you anchor your attention in the present moment, diverting it away from anxiety-inducing thoughts.
  • Self-compassion means that you remind yourself that suffering is part of the human condition, offer yourself kind words, and acknowledge your feelings, whatever they may be. Also, you can keep a gratitude journal to shift focus from what’s wrong to what’s right.
  • Mindful breathing teaches you to simply focus on your breath. Notice the sensations of air leaving and entering your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest.
  • Mindful walking instructs you to focus on the sensations of your feet moving through space and touching the ground, including any walking rhythms and sounds around you.
  • Mindful eating means that you choose a piece of food—fruit, vegetable, or otherwise. Then, take the time to look at it, smell it, and slowly begin to eat it. Finally, notice the tastes, textures, and sensations in your mouth. Don’t rush eating it; feel the full spectrum of sensations from that nibble.

You can practice all these neat mindfulness exercises for 10–20 minutes each day. In fact, mindfulness practice is scientifically proven to provide relief. Of course, if your schedule permits, you can extend it by a minute or two every day. The more, the merrier.

#2: Physical Exercise

Physical activity helps reduce anxiety due to the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural mood elevators and painkillers. In fact, any kind of physical movement constitutes a powerful tool for anxiety management.

Here’s a list of the best exercise recommendations to help you acquire anxiety management skills:

  • Strength training, like bodyweight exercise and weightlifting. Focus on major muscle groups and practice a few times a week.
  • Aerobic exercises, including running, walking, cycling, or swimming. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most days.
  • Tai Chi and Yoga combine meditation, physical movement, and controlled breathing.
  • High-intensity interval training includes short bursts of intense physical exercise followed by rest.

Whichever of these you choose to implement in your daily life, make sure you prioritize consistency over intensity.

A woman is exercising vehemently as one of anxiety management strategies
Managing anxiety without medication is doable in most cases, especially in the form of physical exercise

If you have second thoughts about whether you’re doing any of these right or if you are worried you cannot manage on your own, contact Tennessee mental health services in Chattanooga. This way, you’ll get a tailored approach to your needs, including outpatient mental health services and expert advice at your fingertips.

#3: Diets and Food

Your diet plays a crucial role in anxiety management. As a matter of fact, you should avoid some foods and incorporate others.

Here are some recommended foods and why they are good for you:

  • Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits produce serotonin in your brain, creating a calming effect.
  • Sardines, trout, salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts contribute to mood regulation and brain health.
  • Yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods contain probiotics that can influence mood and potentially reduce anxiety.
  • Berries and nuts are high in antioxidants and help combat the oxidative stress that contributes to anxiety.
  • Leafy greens, legumes, and seeds contain magnesium, which is often linked to anxiety reduction.
  • Oysters, cashews, beef, liver, and egg yolk contain plenty of zinc, which is believed to decrease anxiety.
  • Avocados, beans, poultry, bananas, and eggs are high in B vitamins, helping calm you down.
  • Green tea, chamomile, and other herbal teas contain compounds like apigenin, an antioxidant that sometimes reduces anxiety.

Now that you know what the good stuff is, let’s turn to the other, darker side of food.

Bad foods to avoid and why:

  • Energy drinks, coffee, and chocolate are high in caffeine, potentially contributing to anxiety and jitteriness.
  • Alcohol messes up your serotonin levels and interferes with neurotransmitters in your brain, leading to heightened anxiety over time.
  • Sugary snacks, desserts, and sweetened beverages can create fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. In turn, this contributes to mood swings and anxiety.
  • Processed foods high in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats can detrimentally impact your overall health and mood.
  • Large meals high in fat may lead to discomfort and sluggishness, thereby exacerbating anxiety symptoms in some people.

So, now you’re well-equipped to make informed dietary choices that can help you manage anxiety.

#4: Sleep

Sleeping between seven and nine hours per day (for adults) helps regulate mood, reduce stress, and improve brain function.

Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that close to 15% of US adults suffer from some kind of sleep deprivation. That’s bad news for anyone trying to learn how to manage anxiety.

To get better at sleep, follow the tips below:

  • Go to bed at a certain hour every night and try to wake up at the same time each day.
  • Read, take a warm bath, or practice other relaxing exercises before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet, as did the cavemen (or close to that).
  • Get quality pillows and mattresses, and consider using eye shades, earplugs, or blackout curtains.
  • Avoid looking at screens in the last hour before bed, as doing so could impact your sleep quality due to blue light emissions.
  • Sidestep caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bedtime. If you’re hungry, consider a light snack instead.
  • Resolve your concerns or worries before snuggling into bed by jotting them down and putting them aside until tomorrow.
  • Limit naps to 30 minutes because taking lengthy naps can disrupt your sleep quality later at night—when you really want to fall asleep.

If none of these pan out, seek professional advice from a healthcare provider. For a personalized experience, be aware that outpatient mental health in Chattanooga is just a call away.

#5: Supportive Network

As you are probably aware, mental health in Tennessee has been under attack. Some statistics show that 2021 saw 18% of adults experiencing “frequent mental distress.”

In fact, experts claim that a lack of social connections can drastically contribute to a rise in anxiety. So, which anxiety management strategies can you instill in yourself and others to help you cope better?

We’re glad you asked.

Here is some time-tested advice:

  • Identify people who could support you, including friends, family members, colleagues, or groups of people who you find trustworthy and empathetic.
  • Benefit from professional support, like counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals who can help you adopt coping strategies.
  • Volunteer for a just or joint cause to get a sense of community and purpose, thereby promoting connections with others.
  • Engage in online communities, including platforms and forums dedicated to providing mental health support.
Four women hugging by the waist as a sign of support in battling their anxieties
Anxiety management skills are teachable and often effective

Every step of the way, express appreciation to those who have come to your rescue. These individuals and groups can help you find relief.

But don’t forget that nobody knows what’s under your skin. So, set boundaries and tell your support group what you find comfortable or not.

#6: Routines and Environments

Do you feel overwhelmed with anxiety when you enter your workplace?

Or are you more prone to stress when you engage in routine behavior that nags at you to get it done?

Whatever your response, you should consider the environment and the routines that make up your everyday life. That way, you’ll be able to minimize anxiety triggers while keeping your lifestyle intact.

To help you out with that, here are a few expert tips:

  • Control noise levels by using noise-canceling headphones, soothing background music, or white noise machines.
  • Limit the intake of stressful news or social media content by setting specific times to check the news or social media channels. Bonus tip: Stick to reliable media sources.
  • Structure your work and study times by defining clear boundaries between working, studying, and relaxing.
  • Schedule regular catchups with family members and friends who uplift you.
  • Be flexible with how you live your life. In other words, try to adapt your routine as time goes by instead of rigidly adhering to a fixed schedule.

Sure, establishing healthy routines and staying in anxiety-free environments can be a taxing job. But if you use the anxiety management techniques we listed above, you’ll be well on your way to reducing stress and increasing calm.

#7: Deep Breathing

Deep breathing activates the body’s natural relaxation response. In other words, it’s a state of deep rest that alters the emotional and physical responses to stress.

So, try the following techniques of deep breathing to soothe yourself:

  1. Box breathing
  2. 4-7-8 breathing
  3. Diaphragmatic breathing

Box Breathing

Sit upright and breathe deeply through your nose, slowly counting to four. Feel as the air enters your lungs. Second, hold your breath while you count to four. Finally, exhale slowly for four seconds. Repeat the cycle for 5–10 minutes. But don’t overdo it, as it can lead to dizziness.

4-7-8 Breathing

Lie down or sit in a comfortable position. Then, inhale quietly through the nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Finally, exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat the cycle up to 4–5 times.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Sit comfortably or lie on your back. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Next, breathe in deeply through your nose, ensuring that your diaphragm inflates with so much air that it creates a stretch in the lungs. Finally, exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat the cycle up to 4–5 times. Don’t push it if you feel lightheaded.

#8: Technology and Apps

Plenty of research shows that technology can increase anxiety via platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Yet, that doesn’t mean all tech is evil.

Because it isn’t.

For illustration, here are a few apps that can actually help you reduce anxiety:

  • Waking Up is a meditation, deep contemplation, and philosophy app with countless courses and lectures to help reduce anxiety.
  • MyLife Meditation is a smartphone app that encourages you to check in with your emotions, offering mindfulness practices based on your current feelings.
  • Happify uses evidence-based games and activities designed to build resilience, overcome negative thought patterns, and reduce stress.
Man uses a meditation app to learn how to manage anxiety
Anxiety management strategies at your fingertips: Smartphone apps can offer quick relief

Make use of smartphone applications to track your mood, educate yourself about stress, and get guided relaxation and mindfulness practices with a few simple clicks.

How to Set Realistic Goals and Expectations in Anxiety Management

First of all, start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many anxiety management techniques at once.
As a rule of thumb, pick one technique from each of the eight categories above. Next, try them out for a week or so. See what works.
After that, rinse and repeat until you find your sweet spot and the anxiety management strategies that work best for you.
But if nothing works, you must know that you have not exhausted all your options. You can reach out to professionals for help. Depending on the level of care you need, there are different options available, from inpatient to outpatient mental health services. If you need structured care, inpatient mental health in Chattanooga TN is the best option. For a more flexible approach, you can go with outpatient treatment.

Partial hospitalization programs are the middle ground. In an institution with PHP mental health in Chattanooga, you can get personalized treatment plans and a scientific, evidence-based approach to anxiety issues.

Get Professional Resources and Help if Anxiety Interferes With Your Daily Activities

The days of expensive, out-of-reach support are over. Today, many organizations specializing in mental health offer professional guidance and expert resources. Time Wellness Centers is one of them.
We offer personalized plans and facilities to help you overcome anxiety and live a better, more fulfilling life.
So, if you’re having trouble managing anxiety without medication, reach out to us.
Act now!

Resources

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5679245/
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db436.htm
https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/county-health-councils/tn-vitality-toolkit/caring-connected-communities/mental-well-being.html