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10 Tricks to Cope With Anxiety

You know the feeling. You’re doing fine, then your son announces he’s dropping out of university, and you discover you need a new roof. Suddenly, you can’t breathe. You might think it’s a heart attack but you’re likely suffering from an anxiety attack. It is thought that 7 people in every 1,000 will develop a panic disorder. Sometimes medication and therapy are needed, but quite often learning to cope with anxiety can make a huge difference. Here are 10 ways to do it.

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1. Start Exercising

There’s no better therapy for the ‘I can’t breathe’ feeling of an anxiety attack than to escape the situation quickly and get your blood moving and endorphins pumping through exercise.

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2. Stay Away from Caffeine

Caffeine only adds to that tense, jittery, anxious feeling. Sources of caffeine include chocolate, beverages such as coffee, tea and fizzy drinks and some prescription and over-the-counter medications.

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3. Avoid Nerve-Wracking Conversations

When you’re tired, overwhelmed or stressed, avoid confrontations that make you anxious. For example, tell your children you’re not available for problem-solving after 8:00 p.m. Try to maintain a “trouble-free” time, especially before bed, when you don’t address difficulties but focus on pure relaxation.

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4. Make Use of a White Noise Machine

The soothing sound will help you to fall and say asleep. A good night’s sleep is critical when you’re stressed, since sleep deprivation fuels anxiety and even as anxiety leads to sleep deprivation.

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5. Focus on One Cause

Choose one thing that is making you anxious. Now sit down and write about all the fears you have about that one thing. If it’s money, write down what would happen if you lost your job, if you couldn’t pay your bills. What is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Now look at each item and mark it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being highly unlikely and 10 being likely that it would happen. You’ll be surprised at how few items rank above a 5. This understanding should help you to reduce your anxiety. If something does rank higher than a 5, you may want to develop a contingency plan for it. Nothing works better to calm anxiety than turning from pure worry to an action plan.

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6. Watch a Comedy

Rent a funny movie and watch it. Let yourself laugh out loud. The act of laughter stimulates endorphins that help to blow stress hormones (which contributes to that feeling of anxiety) out of your system the way a good thunderstorm can blow away hot, humid weather.

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7. Relax, Detach and Focus

Try the following routines:

– Relax your body from the toes up.
– Detach from your thoughts.
– Centre yourself in the moment (for example, feel your head upon the pillow or your feet on the ground, etc., depending on where you are).
– Focus on what you want to be and how you want to feel.

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8. Watch the News

Turn on the news and watch the disasters unfurl. It will help you to put your own problems into perspective and realize it’s a big world, filled with both triumph and disaster. The challenges in your life that make you anxious may not seem as great when you put them in the context of the whole world.

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9. Don’t Worry About Future Problems

Many people get into a cycle of predicting and worrying about future concerns. As yourself, ‘Is this something I know will happen and is it something I can do anything about right now?’ If the answers to either of those questions is no, tell yourself you will revisit it later.

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10. Feel the Anxiety

Simply experience your anxiety for 45 minutes. That’s usually all it takes for you to become used to it and for the anxious feelings to dissipate. The worst thing to do is ignore it, because anxiety tends to fight back if you push it down.