[ On May 31st, 2017, Psychology Life Well Director Dr. Michele Barton was featured on an article raising awareness on anxiety. The original article was originally published in Stigma by Brianna Valleskey]
Tips for Managing Anxiety – Psychology Life Well Director Dr. Michele Barton, PhD:
In order to manage anxiety on a day-to-day basis, it’s most important to gain insight to your individual mental health mental symptoms. These symptoms are very difficult to identify and have so many different expressions, it is important to consult with a doctor or psychologist to help determine which symptoms you will need to target.
Once symptoms are identified, you will need to use tools to manage the associated changes resulting from the anxiety. Awareness of small changes in your body and intervention can help prevent the anxiety from taking over the day. Eating a balanced diet, sleeping well, and exercising consistently all help more than anything else including medication and psychotherapy. If you start the day by taking care of the most basic bodily needs, it makes a huge difference in the ability to regulate anxiety levels throughout the day, and I strongly believe it also improves self-esteem.
Deep breathing exercises are fantastic for addressing anxiety in the moment and long-term. Deep breathing exercises serve to help the body return to normal functioning allowing reduction in sensations associated with the physiological changes of anxiety.
Find clothes and food that you are comfortable wearing/eating on a regular basis and have them readily available. For example, every time I go to the gym I wear a pair of yoga pants, a tank top and hoodie. It’s like my gym uniform, and it makes it easy for me to get ready for the gym every time because I know what I’m going to wear when I go. This also can apply for work and other activities that you know are coming up, to have things ready that you like and fit well so that’s not an issue while preparing for the day. Things like this reduce the possibility of anxiety entering into what can be an otherwise simple and not emotion-based activity.
The best strategy for anxiety management over the long term is being consistent and maintaining the habits developed to manage the anxiety on a day-to-day basis. This can be difficult and in some cases routines dismantle slowly and maybe we skip the gym once one week, and then a couple of days the next week. A month later we find ourselves feeling anxious again. What changed, why, and how can we get back to that routine in order to maintain reduced anxiety, promoting wellness.
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