If you’re reading this, then you probably already know that anxiety sucks. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and years later I’m still learning new tips and tricks. Today I’m going to share some of my favourite coping mechanisms for anxiety in the hopes they can help you too!
Now obviously this can’t be an exhaustive list of all anxiety coping mechanisms, different things work for different people! However even if some of these don’t work for you, hopefully they can at least start you on a path of finding something that does works for you.
Read on to find my top 6 coping mechanisms for anxiety:
Please note I am not a mental health professional and this article is written only from my own experience. If you are struggling please consult a professional, or check out our crisis resources here.
If you’ve been here before, you’re probably rolling your eyes because you’ve heard me bang on about journaling before.
Hear me out!
Journaling is one of my absolute favourite self healing tips for managing anxiety. Anxiety has a way of sending the most outlandish worst case scenarios whizzing through my mind, sending me into a panic over things that will never happen.
The reason I love journaling so much is writing those ridiculous thoughts out then reading them back is a great way of getting my brain to realise how unnecessary and out there they are.
I especially love utilising my guided journal because there’s an exercise for everyone. The exercise that works best for me, is writing out my emotional response, logical response, and then formulating a reasonable thought train from combining them. You can read my full review for said guided journal here.
Give it a try!
I am a super music orientated person, but if you’re not this may not work for you.
I find music to be a great distraction from anxiety because it drowns my thoughts out and I find my attention focusing on singing along! Plus there’s some beats that you just can’t help but feel happy listening to.
Try creating a playlist of songs you love, or songs that make you feel happy and put it on when you’re struggling with your anxiety.
As an added bonus, a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can also be super soothing in an environment that is a sensory overload like a crowded shopping centre.
Nothing makes my anxiety worse than having something coming up that I have no idea how to tackle. It’s super tempting to respond to that anxiety by shutting it down and refusing to think about it til it’s upon you, but that can make things worse!
This can go for anything from school assignments, to social events or things like moving house.
Sit down and write a plan for how you’ll handle it, including contingency plans for if things go wrong. That way when your anxiety flares up, instead of desperately trying to ignore it, you can find comfort in reading your plan and knowing you’re prepared.
Find an activity that engages your mind for distraction, and to burn off anxious energy.
This could be something physical like exercise, or simply something that requires mental focus like a diamond painting, or reading a book.
Engaging in an activity that you enjoy will help you disengage your mind from your anxiety, as well as make you feel good because you’re doing something fun.
This is a good option both for breaking through a high anxiety period as well as a great addition to a self care routine to maintain good mental health.
5. Breathing exercises
Even if doing breathing exercises doesn’t sound like a super helpful coping mechanism for anxiety, don’t knock it til you try it.
Breathing exercises are especially helpful if you’re prone to panic attacks. It forces you to focus on something other than your racing thoughts, and nips hyperventilating in the bud.
There’s many different techniques but you can start with this handy list here.
Do you have a smell that just instantly makes you relax? Something like rain on a hot road, or an essential oil? Smell is one of our most important senses!
Smell is notorious for instantly being able to transport people to another time or place, for better or worse. This can be helpful if you harness it!
For example maybe you use a certain essential oil or even perfume in a safe place like home. Bring it with you when you go out and take a whiff when you need a quick grounding.
Using your anxiety coping mechanisms
Anxiety coping mechanisms only work if you use then, but in the heat of the moment, it’s not uncommon to have a brain freeze and completely forget them.
You can combat this by practicing them in a calm stage of mind. Another way to stay on top of them is to write them down, whether it’s a note on your phone or a small notebook.
You can then take that with you to have on hand when you feel anxiety strike and need some help enacting a safety plan.
Remember that it’s ok if some of the anxiety coping mechanisms I’ve listed here don’t work for you, they don’t all work for me either! I used to feel like I’d failed when something didn’t work for me, but anxiety is such a unique experience for everyone that all that matters is looking for something that does work.
As always, remember that they best way to handle anxiety is to speak to a professional.
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