How to handle anxiety

December 17, 2015

Anxiety can be an insistent intruder. But when it walks in, we don’t have to let it stay. It is, after all, our home. We can handle anxiety.

The holidays can be times of great anxiety for some. Maybe it’s financial pressure. Family problems. Illness. Or maybe it’s just free-floating anxiety and you can’t identify its root.

There was a time in my 20s when anxiety was a persistent visitor, returning time and time again and sticking like glue. It has a life of its own and it can seem difficult to slow it down or even stop it.

Although that hasn’t happened in a long time, back then, it was really debilitating.

But it’s possible to handle anxiety without drugs, and I’ve shown you one way in the graphic above. It’s simple, as long as you can sit still long enough to practice it.

This is what’s worked for me. Maybe it’ll handle anxiety for you, too.

Or maybe you’ve got a technique to offer in the Comments below.

37 comments on “How to handle anxiety
  1. Lisa says:

    I do that meditation-lite thing (because I can’t meditate when I’m really anxious) to calm my anxiety. I try to breathe in and out slowly, focusing on my belly expanding in and out rather than my lungs and chest expanding. Belly breathing works wonders for me, even in traffic!

  2. PatU says:

    What do you do if your breath is the source of your anxiety?

  3. I think I’ll take the graphic with my Christmas Day. Hmm. Thanks, Carol!

  4. Simple and serene. I love it …going there today if it kills me…oh wait, that’s not right. But yes, thanks for the tip. Will take your advice I promise!

  5. Elena Peters says:

    I can’t even imagine how chronic anxiety feels. My step-son has GAD and though I try hard to understand, I can not know what it’s like to live in his head everyday. My suggestion to him is always to remove himself from situation, breath and settle and then always return. It does help him the more times he can see he can handle it when he returns to the situation.

  6. pia says:

    As you said everyone’s anxiety different. Sometimes meds allow you to breath well enough to practice deep breathing.

    I would never want people to be on meds forever and I would hope they would find ones that aren’t addictive. But there shouldn’t be a stigma to something that saved many people’s lives including mine.

  7. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that much of the tradition just leads to stress. Now Jose and I have a quiet and special lunch and don’t get pressured into joining in with the big family events. It has taken a lot to get this far, and finally the message has sunk in! 🙂
    But deep breathing and repeating calming phrases works for me in other situations.

  8. It’s amazing what a difference simply breathing can make. I know it really helps when I can stop and just take a few deep breaths.

  9. Laurie Oien says:

    Oddly, some of the things I learned to prepare for childbirth, I’m till use those techniques during high anxiety moments now. Breathing, of course, and calming yourself is a big part of it. This is definitely the time of year to sit down, breath and relax!!

  10. Deep belly breathes work better than Valium.

  11. Karen Austin says:

    I have GAD, and I find that if I do anything to live in the NOW and if I get out of my head and more grounded into my body or my physical surroundings, then my anxiety is reduced. So I breath, exercise, notice physical objects in my vicinity, drink or eat something with zen like focus, and focus on the moment (purposefully getting rid of regret for the past or worry for the future–even the past of 5 minutes ago or the future of 5 minutes away). The whole “be here now” thing works really well for me, especially if I crawl out of my head. Thanks for the reminder. (I have GAD, so anxiety is a constant foe I have to keep at arm’s length.)

  12. Tamara says:

    Thank you for this reminder. The level of anxiety I’m currently experiencing is overwhelming and all new to me. I find that I need to focus on changing my thoughts in order to reduce it. Breathing is certainly a part of that.

  13. Shari Eberts says:

    Beautiful reminder. I try to meditate for a short period of time each day, especially during the holidays!

  14. Deanna says:

    I enjoy doing yoga to handle anxiety. I love your tips.

  15. Katy Kozee says:

    I’ve had a problem with anxiety that was really bad a few years ago. It is really awful when you have to live through it. This is such a common problem this time of year because so many people find being around crowds of people to be a triggering situation. I actually shared two deep breathing exercises that I’ve found helpful on my blog yesterday, but essentially they were techniques to get what you’ve so beautifully summarized in your graphic 🙂

  16. Ruth Curran says:

    My de-stresser depends on where the stress lands in my body / world. Usually I feel my shoulders rising so I use my breath to feel them drop. Just feeling how and where the stress is creeping in helps me so much. Love your suggestions and yes, it is a matter of sitting still long enough to let it happen! Working on it :)!

  17. Kimberly says:

    Breathing does wonders for so many things. Sometimes it’s just the practice of taking a moment to just ‘be’.
    Kimberly XO

  18. I unwind with the kisses of my pets. Heartrate down.

  19. Jacqui Odell says:

    These are great tips. I could never imagine dealing with anxiety.

  20. T.O. Weller says:

    Great minds think alike Carol … it must be the season. LOL

    I’ve written a guest post for Kathy Gottberg that’ll be up tomorrow. It’s all about the breath! 🙂

  21. Liz Mays says:

    Anxiety is a tough thing to deal with. My son has that to an extent and he knows how to fight it, but I’m not entirely sure of his techniques.

  22. You’re exactly right on the breathing working. I tend to do the “three times” thing, where you can truly feel that “relaxation response” kick in as you slowly exhale out that third breath. Anxiety so easily takes hold and mucks up mind and body. Thankfully there ARE non-pharmaceutical ways of kicking it to the curb.

  23. Joan stommen says:

    Perfect timing for me, Carol…doctors are trying to put me on mess and sign up for therapy. Anxiety began with grief, now creeps in when I least expect it. Raises my BP and I start to fret! Breathing in thru my nose slowly, hold/ out through mouth/ hold 3-4 times calms me every time! And my bike and long walks and meditating in the moments and objects around me. I can overcome this and now I have this proof! Your graphic and all the affirming comments! Thank you so much!

  24. andi says:

    with me – i do a lot of breathing – and i pray – and i also take a natural supplement called taurine which has helped me tremendously!

  25. Elizabeth O. says:

    I’ve never had to handle anxiety before. I normally get my head straight in tough situations though, by locking myself up in a bathroom and calming myself down.

  26. Roz Warren says:

    Great topic. Timely too, since the holiday season seems to bring out the anxiety in a lot of people. Going for a swim or a walk helps me when I start feeling anxious. Hard to feel anything other than happy when the Yorkie-poo is on the other end of the leash.

  27. I love this. I always do breathing exercises whenever I feel stressed. It always helps.

  28. Jeanine says:

    My anxiety gets the best of me some days and its awful. These are some great tips.

  29. Beautiful reminder.. I enjoy doing yoga to handle anxiety!!

  30. sherill says:

    Anxiety is a common visitor in every man’s life. Meditation is a great way to cope up with anxiety without using drugs, taking deep breaths, allowing positive energy and thoughts to rule your mind. Thanks for sharing. Great Thoughts!

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