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by Katie Bailey, MA, LPC

In part one of our Anxiety Truth Series we talked about how to recognize when anxiety is a problem above and beyond normal everyday stress. Check out part one here if you missed it the first time around.

Some people really have a hard time admitting to themselves that anxiety is a problem for them. Our society has the perception that anxiety means you are weak, crazy, or just over sensitive. None of these things are true. Anxiety can be rooted in many things -and sometimes we never know what that root is. Brain chemistry, circumstances, traumatic events that happened in the past – all of these things can grow into anxiety.

You’ve recognized anxiety is impacting your daily life; now what? Maybe you’ve just always had anxiety, and you don’t know any different. What can you do to help minimize your anxiety and reclaim your life? You actually have quite a few things you can do on your own to manage stress and anxiety. Here are some of the best:

  • Tell someone. Anxiety grows in the darkness. What I mean is, when we hide it, and don’t let anyone see our struggles, anxiety’s power over us grows. We were meant to live connected to one another – life is a team sport – and that means being willing to share our challenges with other, trusted, safe people. Chances are, if you share your story, you’ll be surprised by others around you that grapple with anxiety too.
  • Healthy sleep habits. Exhaustion breeds anxiety. You have to be ruthless in protecting your sleep. Go to bed the same time each night, and aim to get at least 8 hours. Stop using screens about an hour before bed time, and if you just can’t put the phone down, at least use blue light blocking glasses (I’m wearing mine now as I type this!).
  • Exercise. Yes, it REALLY does help. Walk around the block, ride your bike, run with a friend. Whatever activity you like, just get moving. Your body needs it and your stress levels will go down.
  • Cut back (or out) the alcohol. You might feel more relaxed after a few drinks, but the truth is alcohol disrupts your sleep later in the night. If you resist the idea of passing on the drinks, stop and ask yourself why. Your overall health is worth it to pass on the alcohol – and in reality, drinking only will aggravate your anxiety.
  • Cut back (or out) the caffeine. Caffeine makes you jumpy, and for people already prone to anxiety, will only make it worse. Try to drink less coffee or soda. You can even try half caf coffee. Drinking too much caffeine only sets yourself up for more anxiety later.
  • Mindfulness. Our world is loud and very busy. Many of us find sitting still such a struggle. Try it. Our brains aren’t meant to be on the go all the time. Anxiety can be a way of your body saying “Stop! I’m overloaded! Rest!” There are many great apps you can get to help guide you through mindfulness exercises. My favorite is Headspace. Just pick one and give it a try. Like any new habit, it takes time, so give it a few weeks to feel results.
  • Do one fun thing every day. This can be small. Take a hot shower, read a good book, cuddle with your spouse, eat a good piece of dark chocolate. I like to hold my mug of hot tea and watch the steam rise. Whatever it is for you – and you might have to try a few things to find it – make a point to do something small every day that you enjoy.
  • Magnesium. Ask your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement. Many of us are deficient in this important mineral which helps us relax. You can up your intake of avocados, almonds, cashews, spinach, quinoa and black beans, all of which are good sources of magnesium.

Anxiety Therapy in Ambler, PA

Sometimes we try all the things on our own, and anxiety still gets the best of us. If this is you, locate a professional counselor who specializes in anxiety. For those of you in Montgomery County or Bucks County, our team of anxiety experts at Lime Tree Counseling in Ambler are here to help you. Contact us today and schedule your first appointment. You were not made to live in a state of fear, stress, and overwhelming anxiety. Anxiety treatment can help you learn new skills to manage your stress and live life as you were made to live!

Online Counseling in PA

If you are in Pennsylvania, but too far from our offices, we can still help you! We offer online counseling to all residents of our state. Current laws only allow us to offer telehealth counseling to people in the state in which we are licensed. Hopefully that changes in the years to come! For now, if you are in PA and want to work with our team, please send us a message or give us a call! We would love to get you set up and help you conquer your anxiety!