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How to Deal with Anxiety

Anxiety: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

The future terrifies me because everything is uncertain. I am the type of person who needs a plan, who takes comfort in organization and schedules, and I often become anxious when dealing with a situation involving an uncertain outcome. So how can you deal with it?

I will let you in on a little secret, most of the time the anxiety is all in your head; the anxiousness you feel is produced through your own thoughts and fears of a situation and its outcome. The way to battle anxiety is to get out of your head. I know how tempting it is to stay curled up and live inside your head, because you feel comfort in such, but spending all day worrying will only make the problem worse, and allow it to fester inside your head until you lose it, (trust me, I’ve been there.)

Below are a few ideas on how to cope with those thoughts and scary feelings of anxiety. If you want a separate article on any of these points feel free to let us know on our Tumblr!

1. Ground Yourself
When one feels anxious it is often because they are living inside their head, worrying too much about the future or fretting too much about the past. One way to pull yourself out of your head and into the present moment is to ground yourself use your five senses: smell, taste, touch, sight, listening. All of these actions can be used to bring yourself into the present moment and take yourself out of your head.

– Focus on what is going on around you
– Listen to the noises around you
– Notice if there is a particular scent
– Feel your weight on the ground or the movement of your breath

Paying attention to the present moment and grounding yourself with the five senses is another form of meditation. Doing this also helps when dealing with present feelings of anxiety; focusing on your sense or meditating can relax your body and mind. If you know a bit about meditation or how to practice it, mediation is another great way to focus on the present and surpass feeling of anxiety, (Stop, Breathe & Think as well as any Meditation Oasis apps are great to help with meditating and focusing your mind.)

2. Connect with Nature
Spending time outside, or exercising is proven to reduce stress and help ease your mind. When you start to have feelings of anxiousness, if you can, take a step outside or go for a walk. If you don’t already exercise try to start working out for as little as 15 minutes a day. When you go for a walk if you can, leave the headphones at home and force yourself to be fully present and listen to the world around you. This can help to reduce any worry. If not, bring your headphones to listen to some calming music or anything that makes you happy.

3. Write It Out

Journaling has helped me a ton in dealing with anxiety. If you are not someone who finds journaling or writing easy set a timer for yourself; picking a certain amount of time to focus on how you are feeling allows one to talk about their feelings but not obsess over it. Sometimes physically writing a problem out helps to get the worry out of your head and leave it on the page.

4. Worry Time
Similar to journaling, one recommendation I found helpful was to set aside a specific amount of worry time. Let’s say around lunch time or early in the morning set your timer for 20 minutes and just sit there and worry. I know this may sound super ridiculous but allotting yourself a certain amount of time just to worry can help to focus your energy on the problem without allowing one issue to overwhelm you thoughts. Then for the rest of the day try to do not think about it; again this helps to focus your energy on the problem without draining yourself over one small issue, which if often a part of dealing with anxiety. Giving yourself worry time allows yourself to recognize the problem, worry about it, and then move on.
5. Me Time
One of the biggest ways to cope with any mental illness, especially anxiety and depression is to allow yourself me time. Treat yourself as you would if you had a cold, were not feeling well or felt yourself becoming overly anxious about something. If you can, take a sick day, or put aside that big project to watch a movie or take a hot bath. It is important to never neglect yourself when you are feeling down or overly stressed about something. Make sure to do the things you love, for example:

– Treat yourself to a latte
– Watch your favorite movie
– Curl up in a giant blanket and eat a whole tub of ice cream
– Listen to your favorite music

Doing these things helps to heal yourself, we all need a little love, and in times of stress and sadness the most important thing to do is love yourself.
6. Just do it
As I spoke about earlier most anxiety is all in one’s head. Often times we stress and stress so much about one little thing it then becomes a huge big scary thing in our heads. For example going to a party or having to study for a huge exam, in the grand scheme of things one test or one party will not define your whole entire life, but it is natural to feel anxious about doing things that may seem a little scary. My best advice on how to cope with anything you are scared to do is to JUST DO IT. Throw yourself into the situation and get out of your head. I know this is easier said than done, but I promise the fear is all in your mind. Go to the party, or talk to your crush, even if the party is horrible or you didn’t have fun at least you can feel proud of yourself for doing something you were afraid of. Another example is to throw yourself into the situation if you have social anxiety, try your hardest to talk to someone new, or put yourself out.

And if you are too scared to do it, that is okay too, do not beat yourself up. You are human, it is okay to say no, it is okay to be afraid, we are not all superheroes.

I hope some of these suggestions and ideas will help you all deal with your anxiety a bit better. A while ago I wrote a similar article about how to stop bad thoughts, there is a more in-depth description of coping mechanisms for thoughts which might help as well!

Just remember to take a deep breath and keep going.

Words by Hannah D. // Photography by Ash Bishop.

© 2015 Reef Magazine



  1. Rachel says

    Thank you very much for this. It really helped me to put things in perspective. I suffer with anxiety and depression and have just shared my story over on my blog. These tips are really helpful. It really is amazing how much of an effect these little things can have. The biggest thing for me is not to feeling guilt when it comes to ‘me time’. I sometimes although it is a waste of my time and that I should be doing something more productive.

    Thank you for this post, I will keep coming back to it for inspiration and just as a little note to myself.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dealing with anxiety can definitely be hard; I know that just as well as anyone could! I love tip number 3, about writing it out. Writing out your feelings is a great way to help yourself be logical and understand your feelings. Also, if you’ve never tried essential oils for anxiety, you should! Lavender works wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

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