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50 Ways to Manage Anxiety

The majority of people that reach out to me for therapy have experienced, in some capacity, depression or anxiety. These feelings may be the result of being in the post partum time period, a previous trauma or stressful situation, or may possibly be due to a genetic predisposition to these emotions. No matter the reason, one of the first things that I assess with all of my clients is their current capacity to cope with these emotions. While exploring this, we discuss things that they may currently be doing, whether healthy or unhealthy, to help themself cope with the anxiety or depression. I firmly believe that we all have the ability to cope with our emotions and that most clients are doing this before they ever step foot into a therapy session. But, I provide the guidance for them to be able to identify new and healthier coping skills that will help them combat these emotions in different ways so that they can begin to see progress. Identifying a variety of coping skills that can be utilized is important, so that you are able to find something that you know will work for you in any given situation. For instance, there should be skills that can be utilized at home, in the car, at work or at a social engagement. Some of these may be distractions, may be clinical in nature or may be soothing to the client. Using coping skills is essential in managing any mental health disorder because it ensures that we are trying to prevent these emotions from getting too intense and it helps to feel much needed relief even for just a brief period of time. Once we are able to decrease the intensity and cope more effectively, it can be easier to work through the underlying reasons for depression or anxiety and begin to see the progress that we were hoping for.

Below is a brief list of a variety of coping skills that can be utilized for both anxiety and depression (amongst other feelings) and that can be implemented in different circumstances.

50 Coping Skills for Anxiety and Depression

1. Deep breathing techniques (breathe in through your nose, hold for 3-4 seconds then breathe out through your mouth)

2. Use a stress ball

3. Call a friend or family member

4. Go for a walk

5. Splash some cold water on your face

6. Cuddle or pet an animal

7. Meditation (this one is my favorite)

8. Draw 9. Organize something in your home or at work

10. Remind yourself of 10 things that are going well or that you are doing well at the present time

11. Drink a soothing hot cup of tea or hot cocoa

12. Cook or bake

13. Window shop online or in person

14. Throw ice cubes at a tree (this one is a great frustration reliever!)

15. Read a good book

16. Identify an attainable short term goal, preferably one that you can spend time working on daily

17. Color in an adult coloring book (or heck, use a children's coloring book and enjoy the simplicity!)

18. Take a shower

19. Utilize a worry stone by rubbing on a smooth stone whilst imagining your worries leaving your body and entering into the stone, where they must stay

20. Tidy up your home, car or office

21. Remind yourself of times in the past that you were able to overcome a difficult situation

22. Begin a therapeutic journal, in which you focus on a particular topic for each entry (find some examples of prompts here)

23. Call a friend to create a plan to do something fun

24. Volunteer your time--helping others is a great way to help ourselves

25. Paint something--even if it's abstract, the act of painting is relieving for many people

26. Watch videos of cute babies or animals

27. Engage in some deep cleaning at your home

28. Take a bubble bath

29. Go for a hike

30. Journal about the events of your day, including your thoughts and feelings.

31. Allow yourself the time to have a good cry

32. Sit back and close your eyes for 5 minutes. Pay attention to all of your senses and identify all of the things that you can smell, taste, hear and touch. 33. Look back on old photos from a happy or peaceful time in your life

34. Write down 10 things that you are thankful for in your life

35. Watch a funny movie or TV show

36. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure (or go get one)

37. Play a game

38. Write down the thoughts that are distressing to you and identify the reasons as to why this thought is not rational

39. Sit in a park and observe nature

40. Give yourself a little makeover (hair, makeup, dress up)

41. Hit the gym

42. Read a magazine or browse through sites on your phone

43. Ask a loved one for a hug

44. Write down what is bothering you at the time and then shred the piece of paper

45. Read inspirational quotes and hang a few of these around your home to inspire you when you need it the most

46. Take a nap

47. Play with play dough (or pizza/bread dough). The texture is often soothing for many people

48. Plant or tend to a garden--or if in an apartment, buy some fresh flowers to look at

49. Listen to music

50. Remind yourself that this feeling, however intense, will not last forever. Tell yourself that you are strong, capable and that you can overcome this. Repeat this as much as needed.

This list is in no way comprehensive and is just a good starting point for many people to begin trying new ways to cope with their anxiety and depression. If you have been struggling with these emotions for a while, or they are feeling intense, therapy should be sought out to help you manage these feelings and process through the possible causes for them.

Destiny Gillman, LMFT, PMHC is an online based therapist seeing clients all across Connecticut. To schedule an appointment, please call 860-428-3400.

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