Just Breathe: Learning How to Handle Anxiety

Everyone deals with anxiety in some capacity. For some, anxiety comes before a test, presentation or meeting. For others, like myself, anxiety can come at any time. The key is learning how to handle this anxiety no matter where or when it arises.

6f09934a2cd89bb4552da1efa1b09a8dAfter having anxiety for most of my life, I have to say that I have become a pro at handling it. There are so many things that can be done before anxiety overwhelms you and during/after a bout of anxiety.

One major aspect of handling anxiety is to know your triggers. It is important to know the things that can cause anxiety not so you can avoid them, but so you can work to mentally prepare yourself to handle them. For me, I know that I can become extremely anxious in places that are very crowded/overstimulating. Therefore, if I know that I am going to be in a situation like that I will a) make sure I have a friend/family member with me who knows that I get anxious and can help me if I need it and b) have a “plan of escape”, meaning that I know of a place in the area I will be in that is quieter, where I can collect myself if I feel overly anxious.

Also, it is important to practice mindfulness. This is very similar to knowing your triggers. Mindfulness helps you step back and realize what you are feeling/thinking that is causing anxiety. Usually, by doing this, you are able to pinpoint the problem and resolve it. For example, if you realize that you are anxious because you are worried about embarrassing yourself, you may be able to tell yourself “People embarrass themselves all the time; it’s part of being human. No one will even remember it in a few weeks… I never remember it when someone else does”.

A way to prevent anxiety from building up is to practice self care. If you want to know more about self care, I wrote a post called “The ABC’s of Self Care” that you can read here

My biggest tip is to just breathe. Breathing is one of the most important techniques that you can use to combat anxiety. A lot of times, during an anxiety/panic attack, there will be an increase in breathing rate. Using regulated breathing (for example, inhale for 4 slow counts and exhale for 4) can help you lower your heart rate and calm down.

Finally, remember that anxiety does not make you crazy. It is something that everyone deals with on some level. Almost everyone has either had a panic attack or has dealt with varying levels of anxiety at some point in their life, and if they haven’t, they probably will eventually. It is a completely normal “flight or fight” response, and can have many positive benefits (such as encouraging you to work better, or keeping you alert in dangerous situations). Learning how to handle this anxiety, and learning how to keep it at normal, healthy levels, can help you live a better life both mentally and physically.

Have any other tips that you want to share with me? Feel free to leave them in the comments! Remember to always strive to live a mentally healthy life!

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