Living With Anxiety? Try These Short and Long-Term Coping Strategies

In today’s day and age, the stigma surrounding mental health disorders has been reduced to a certain extent. This is due to strategies like community-based healthcare services, public awareness campaigns, and peer support groups.

Even so, some conditions are seen as a passing phase of life rather than an illness that requires medical assistance. One example would be an anxiety disorder. It is a mental health disorder involving feelings of fear, anxiety, and extreme worry. In some cases, these feelings can be so strong that they interfere with the person’s daily activities.

As per the World Health Organization, anxiety is among the most commonplace conditions associated with mental health. Even so, only one in four people receive proper treatment. Some face short-term sporadic anxiety episodes, whereas others experience it as a part of their daily life.

In this article, we will discuss some effective short-term and long-term coping strategies for anxiety disorder.

3 Short-Term Coping Strategies

In some individuals, the anxiety is focused on a particular situation or event. They may have what is known as panic attacks. The following coping strategies should help deal with short-term anxiety episodes.

Question Your Thought Pattern

In nine out of ten cases of anxiety, the person’s mind tends to exaggerate a problem. A distorted thought process can intensify the severity of a situation without evidence to support such thinking. One way to cope with this is to challenge your thoughts.

Whenever an intrusive negative thought pops into your mind, pause and ask the following questions –

  • Is this thought true or false?
  • Am I confusing an opinion or assumption with a fact?
  • Is there any reliable evidence to support this thought?
  • How would I help a friend having similar thoughts?
  • What is the likelihood of my fears turning into reality?
  • Is this thinking helpful or just destructive?
  • Will worrying help the situation?
  • Is the situation truly black and white?

Then, identify distortions in your thinking pattern and speak to yourself with compassion. Reach out to a family member or friend for their perspective.

Use Aromatherapy

Clinical studies have found that aromatherapy using essential oils is effective in relaxing the mind. Citrus aurantium L, or bitter orange essential oil, is supposedly the most effective against stress and anxiety.

You can use this therapy regularly (especially during bedtime) for sound sleep and reduced anxiety. There is a wide variety of options available, including scented candles, oil diffusers, reed sticks, etc.

Practice Focused, Deep Breathing

Short-term feelings of anxiety can also be managed using measured breathing practices. The process is simple – consider breathing in up to the count of four and breathing out to the same count. You must do this for at least five minutes before seeing concrete results.

Deep and focused breathing will even out your breath by slowing the heart rate, thereby calming you down. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is also popular. All you need to do is inhale for 4 seconds. Then, hold the air in for the next 7 seconds followed by an 8-second exhalation.

RELATED: How to Use Positive Affirmations Against Anxiety


3 Long-Term Anxiety-Coping Strategies 

In case your anxiety is not short-term but a chronic issue, you must know certain long-term coping strategies. These will help you deal with the disorder as a regular part of life. 

Seek Professional Help

Since the words ‘anxiety’ and ‘anxious’ are thrown around so often, it’s natural to be hesitant to seek professional help. Many individuals hold back because of fear or embarrassment. 

On the contrary, identifying your problem and choosing to deal with it head-on is a brave step. Seek an experienced mental health therapist or healthcare provider to understand your unique situation. In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is enough. In others, certain medications may be needed.

Once the treatment plan has been decided, you may be assigned a nurse for regular check-ups and symptom management. Having pursued ABSN online programs or offline courses, these professionals undergo exclusive training for sub-specialities like mental health, pediatric, cardiac, and prenatal nursing, among others.

While anxiety disorder is the most common disorder, it is often followed by social anxiety. Rockhurst University states that nurses are highly trained in effective communication, health promotion, safe patient care, and personalized nursing attention. 

This means they will help manage your symptoms based on your unique needs. Some of the common nursing interventions for anxiety disorder include –

  • Assessing the intensity of the condition
  • Determining the most common triggers
  • Administering medicines
  • Patient education and counseling
  • Monitoring how the patient responds to medication and other treatments
  • Conversing in simple, clear language
  • Encouraging the patient to have support groups
  • Allowing the patient to speak openly about distressing feelings and emotions

Maintain a Journal

Many individuals suffering from long-term anxiety disorder find comfort in penning down their thoughts. You can also try this method by maintaining a personal diary or journal. Hackensack Meridian Health states that regular journaling can reduce stress, boost mood, and improve self-confidence.

The most common challenges involved in journaling are maintaining consistency, lack of direction, fear of judgment, distractions, writer’s block, and balancing emotional expression. The following tips should help you ward off such challenges –

  • Set aside a few minutes every day and stick to the schedule at all costs.
  • Have a pen and paper handy near your journal to make the process easier.
  • Write down or even draw whatever feels right at the moment. You need not burden yourself with the pressure of maintaining a certain structure.
  • Do not stress about writing every single day. If you blow your routine or just have no desire to journal, skip a day or two.
  • Practice gratitude by noting at least two to three things you are grateful for.

Socialize Often

Every person’s struggle with anxiety disorder is different, but one thing is certain – everybody needs to have a loving and supportive community. This is true even if you suffer from social anxiety. Just a few minutes each day with friends and family can become a major long-term coping mechanism.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social connectedness is what enables an individual to enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life. It is the degree to which one has diverse quality relationships that create a sense of belonging and being valued.

In case you’re someone with social anxiety and find it difficult to seek community, try these tips –

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Participate in regular exercise and get enough sleep
  • Understand that the beginning is always the hardest. Once you make the first move and socialize, it will only get better.
  • Practice self-care by indulging in your favorite activities, including cooking, watching movies, going for a walk in nature, etc.
  • Approach people, not paying attention to the consequences. In other words, be respectful and authentic and start a conversation without thinking about rejection.
  • Try not to overthink and just focus on the moment at hand. 

With all of the above being said, anxiety or worry is still a regular part of life. You must not get alarmed at the slightest symptom of anxiety, especially if it is manageable and short-lived. 

However, if you experience anxiety episodes or the condition has persisted for more than six months, it’s time to take serious action. The above-mentioned strategies are a good place to start.

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