Small, Healthy Steps You Can Take to Manage Your Anxiety
Anxiety can feel like an invisible weight on your chest. Some days that weight is heavier than other days. It won’t disappear with a snap of a finger, but it can be manageable. After incorporating some small steps into my life, I’ve noticed a difference mentally and physically. These are some healthy steps you can take to manage your anxiety:
1. Incorporate a morning or evening routine.
Routines are essential if you struggle with anxiety. It keeps you safe. It keeps you stable. It keeps you focused. So consider setting up a small routine for yourself. For me, dealing with anxiety during work hours was already a hard challenge but coming back home from work was probably an even bigger challenge. I was physically and mentally less preoccupied, so I was more prone to experience higher peaks of anxiety. I wanted my home to feel like a safe space so I incorporated some routine steps into my evening. I set myself a timeframe of two hours to shower, make dinner, prepare things for the next day, while still having time to do something I enjoy. It allowed me to manage my time better and it kept me busy. Small morning or evening routines seem simple but it can significantly relieve your anxiety.
2. Treat yourself.
By treating yourself, I don’t mean spending $100 on a spa treatment or yoga classes. Gestures that soothe you don’t need to be grand or make you feel invincible, as long as they make you feel good and safe in that moment. Things like using your favorite bath product, putting on your favorite shirt, eating a great snack or watching your favorite show can do wonders. No matter how small you think these gestures are, your mind and body will thank you for giving yourself that attention and care.
3. Talk to family or friends.
Talking to someone about your condition is a big step. Very few people know what I struggle with, and I personally don’t like labeling them as my “support system.” My friends are still my friends and my family is still my family. I didn’t necessarily tell them so I can seek support from them, but rather to develop my relationships with them. It’s helpful, and might I say crucial, for at least one person you trust to be aware of what you’re going through. If you’re experiencing an anxiety attack or a bad week, you’ll have someone to speak to and check up on you.
4. Remove unnecessary negativity from your life.
Whether it’s a person, a habit or even a thought pattern, unnecessary negativity has no business being in your life. It can completely block you and prevent you from growing. For me, negative impacts mainly came from certain people. It was weighing on me to be around them and I needed to distance myself. Pushing away negative impacts has significantly helped me. Ever since, I have been able to grow and be comfortable with myself. So don’t be afraid to say “no” for your well-being. Don’t be afraid to remove excess negativity that’s creeping in your life and preventing you from being your true, awesome self.
5. Push yourself to go to work.
This one may sound strange. Does work really help manage anxiety? In a weird way, sort of. It’s hard to wake up and go to work. I dread it most days. But when it’s 5 p.m. and my work day is over, I’m proud I made it through the day. Each and every workday is a struggle. I’m never sure how I’ll feel when I wake up and I worry I’ll have an anxiety attack at work, leading everyone to discover what I’m dealing with. But I think the fact I’m pushing myself to go to work does mean I’m doing better. You shouldn’t see going to work as a punishment, but rather as a reward. Showing up to work, doing what I’m supposed to do and getting through the day are definitely considered daily victories. And when there’s a day I’m just not feeling it, I won’t punish myself for it. That’s what mental health days are for. Your mind and body need to recharge.
6. Don’t sleep too much!
If you’ve dealt with anxiety or depression, I’m sure you know what I mean when I say it is definitely possible to sleep too much. It is so damn hard to get out of bed sometimes. My bed is one of my biggest comfort zones — it’s my safe spot where nothing or no one can hurt me. I would sleep even when I wasn’t tired just to escape thought patterns and slip away from them for a few hours. But napping too much is counterproductive. You become so dependent on sleep that you don’t know what to do with yourself when you’re awake. Reducing nap or sleep time by staying preoccupied has made me feel better. I feel mentally healthier and more encouraged to be proactive when I don’t take naps for the wrong reasons. Plus, this allows me to sleep better at night. Since I didn’t take a midday nap, I’m sufficiently tired when I go to bed and I wake up more energized in the morning.
7. Check in with yourself.
This is an important step. Without preoccupying yourself too much over it, track your progress. Notice what triggers you and what calms you. You’ll be able to get a better sense of what you are dealing with and it’ll make you feel more at ease once you know what helps you manage your anxiety.
Remember, though, that it’s OK to have bad days and weeks. It happens. Often. I know those moments can feel eternal and discouraging. It’ll feel like all the hard work you put in was for nothing, but be patient with yourself. Finding ways to manage your anxiety is an ongoing process, but you learn a lot about yourself on the way. For me, anxiety will most likely never completely disappear and I’ve acknowledged that it’s something I may just have to live with. But as I’m learning more about myself and how to manage it, I know I’ll be able to move forward one step at a time.
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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash