Anxiety Treatment – 5 Effective Strategies to Decrease Anxiety

Number 1: Face your fears. The most common mistake that people make in coping with their  anxiety  is to avoid whatever situation triggers their  anxiety . Although you may feel immediate, intense relief whenever you avoid an  anxiety-provoking  situation, the long-term effect is actually to worsen your  anxiety . Avoidance makes it extremely unlikely that your  anxiety  will ever decrease as long as you continue to avoid the situation.

Number 2: Be in tune with your level of  anxiety . Try to catch your  anxiety  as soon as it starts. You will have a much easier path to feeling better when you intervene at the earliest possible point. For example, at the moment that you find yourself feeling a little bit tense or anxious, see Numbers 3 through 5 below.

Number 3: Know what helps you to relax.Make a list of enjoyable and relaxing activities. The list should be what YOU enjoy and find relaxing. There are endless options – take a walk, listen to music, take a warm shower, sit with your pet, imagine yourself on a warm beach…

Number 4: Regularly practice something on your list. Even if you are not feeling intensely anxious at a particular moment, you can help reduce your overall  anxiety  level by regularly engaging in enjoyable activities (not a bad assignment for homework, right?). Plus, the more comfortable you are with taking time to relax, the more likely you are to actually use your relaxing activities at a time when you feel anxious.

Number 5: Consider learning relaxation techniques. There are many options for relaxation techniques. The key is to do a little research online or at the bookstore. Find a technique that appeals to you. Some types of relaxation include, diaphragmatic breathing (or deep-breathing), meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and body scanning. Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the simplest techniques that can be used whenever you feel anxious. Remember, like #4 above, you need to practice to make this effective!

Common mistakes:

· Avoiding everything that makes you anxious. For example, think of when you learned to ride a bike. You were probably afraid the first time, but your fear gradually decreased until you mastered it! If you never tried to ride a bike, then you would still be afraid to ride it today and probably more afraid than you were initially. The same strategy applies with  anxiety . With each time you face something that makes you anxious – even just a little bit anxious – your overall  anxiety  will decrease.

· Waiting until you’re anxious before you try to relax. Rather, you should practice relaxing while you are relaxed. Relaxing needs to be a skill that you master before you apply it to your  anxiety  (would you learn to ride a bike on a narrow, bumpy sidewalk?).

If you do not know what is making you feel anxious or cannot imagine facing anything that makes you anxious, then your best option is to consider seeing a mental health professional who will help you work through your  anxiety .