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10 anxiety tips for 3 types of anxiety

Are you anxious? Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way, so it’s not surprising that some anxiety management techniques work for some and not for others. Recently I found an old handout lying around the office, with no source quoted, so I apologize in advance to the original author. It talks about 3 “symptom clusters” for different types of anxiety:

  1. Distressing physical arousal — anxiety that’s felt in the body
  2. Tension, Stress and Dread — that “black cloud over my head” feeling
  3. Rumination — thoughts that go round and round

Here are some different anxiety management tools based on what sort of symptoms are being experienced:

For Distressing Physical Arousal — Body Symptoms

  1. Manage the Body
    • Watch your diet, especially for CATS — caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and sugar (including artificial sweeteners) All of these can increase anxiety
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Exercise — to burn off “stress chemicals” — fight or flight means your body is ready to “do something”, so give it something to do.
    • Hormones — women, take note of where you are in your cycle. You may find that anxiety symptoms are worse for you at certain points.
  2. Breathe! Practice slow, deep breathing, 10-15 times a day. Breathe in for 4 counts, out for 6 counts, 5- 10 times. You’ll be resetting your body chemistry.
  3. Mindful Awareness exercise. Close your eyes, and breathe gently, noticing how your body feels. Keeping your eyes closed, notice everything sensed through our skin, ears, nose, etc. Alternate several times, from internal to external awareness.
  4. For Tension, Stress, and Dread — Emotional Symptoms

  5. Don’t listen when worry calls your name. Learn progressive relaxation and practice it several times a day. Pair that feeling with a cue, like a color, image and/or word. Then, when your brain says “worry”, don’t look for a cause. Just do the progressive relaxation exercise instead.
  6. Consider anger instead. Next time you’re anxious, do a writing exercise: “If I were angry, what might I be angry about?” You might be surprised at your answer.
  7. Have a little fun. Do something you like to do. Distraction often helps a lot!
  8. For Rumination and Obsessive Thoughts

  9. Turn it off.
    • Do a mental exercise called “container imagery”, where you see and name each worry, put in a box, put a lid and lock on it, and leave it there.
    • Or use an actual written list, then put in a drawer. The AA program uses a “God Box”, to turn over worries to a higher power.
  10. Learn to thought-stop. Literally practice saying “stop” when you start to ruminate. You might need to practice this literally hundreds of times a day, but it’s worth it!
  11. Worry well, but only once. Find a special chair or spot, and worry thoroughly, at a scheduled time, for about 10 minutes. Then get up and move.
  12. Learn to plan instead of worry. Write down your worries, and what you can actually do about them. Develop an action plan, do what you can, then practice thought-stopping.

Hopefully these are tips you can use. Additionally, please see our main website for some specific information on anxiety. And for some excellent relaxation techniques, including how to do progressive relaxation, take a look here.

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