How To Deal With Anxiety: 3 Simple Steps To Cope


How To Deal With Anxiety

Are you struggling with anxiety? Wondering how to cope with intrusive and ruminating thoughts? Here are three simple steps that can help you deal with your anxious thoughts and improve your mental health.

The fall after I finished college, I moved to New York City to study acting. A year in, life was a blur of acting classes, auditions, and working as an administrative assistant for a scientist.

One day I received a call from my former university informing me that I still had an “incomplete” on my transcript and that if I didn’t complete the course work and get a grade turned in, I might have to re-take the course. I assured them I would look into this, set down the phone, and panic set in.

My degree was listed on my resume. Everyone in my life (including my parents, who had paid for my education) believed I was a college graduate. How could I have let this happen? It affirmed every negative thing I believed about myself: I am spacey. I am irresponsible. I am incompetent.

The truth was, while I was pretty spacey, I had turned in all the coursework. I had taken an incomplete because of a family emergency right at the end of the semester but had turned in the final project two weeks later. The professor hadn’t turned in the grade.

After skipping the graduation ceremony might I have questioned why I didn’t receive my diploma in the mail as expected? Yes. Was it my job to follow up and prod the professor? No question! But I was so paralyzed by my dread around dealing with this, so focused on what it said about my character, that I just shut down and proceeded to do nothing to solve this problem for a year. Okay, 18 months.

  • Have you had the experience of avoiding a problem all day, only to stare at the ceiling at night, ruminating and worrying?
  • Have you resolved to take meaningful action on some intractable issue only to lose your nerve when the time comes, letting another day pass without making the appointment, finishing the task, or having a hard conversation?
If you have high functioning anxiety you may

Also read How Rigid Thinking And Rumination Undermines Your Health And Life

The truth is, operating this way costs you a lot. Unfinished business creates open loops of anxiety that slowly drain you of energy and contentment, and hurt your ability to focus and be present. It also takes a physical toll, either because you are constantly stewing in a low-grade stress response, or because of lack of sleep, or because you use food or alcohol to numb out and quiet your mind. Long-term avoidance is paradoxically really hard work! There is a better way.

Here’re Three Simple Steps To Cope With Anxiety

1. Make A Dread List Of Everything In Your Life You Are Avoiding.

Take your time with this, and really try to get everything out on the page. There might be one big bold problem, and a few smaller ones or a whole list of things that make you squirm and cringe. It doesn’t matter.

You might have to “leave marriage” and “make Ikea returns” on the same list. Just getting everything out on the page will help you start to feel in control. Pick the thing you are going to work on first, either because solving it will have the most impact or because you can act on it right away.

Nothing Diminishes Anxiety

Also, read 7 Imposter Syndrome Myths You Should Know About

2. Tell Someone Supportive What’s Up.

This helps in multiple ways. I often say in therapy we are shining light in dark places. So often when you finally share your secret you are met with so much compassion, validation, or even loving bewilderment, that the volume of the problem is turned down by 50 percent just by virtue of saying it out loud.

In my case, I finally told my friend Helen, and because a personal narrative of intractable spaciness, irresponsibility, and incompetence didn’t distract her, she instantly saw this as a clerical problem, not as evidence of a fundamentally disordered mind.

She was legitimately confused about all my hand-wringing around this. Seeing the problem, and myself, through her eyes helped a lot.

3. Ask Yourself, “How Can I Make This Easier?”

Almost every day a client says something to me along the lines of, “But I should be able to handle this myself!” Or “No one else would struggle so much with this – what is wrong with me?!” To this, I call bullshit.

At the end of your life, you won’t have points detracted based on how many times you had to ask for help. The last line of your obituary is not going to read, “Sadly, he needed assistance with practically all of this.”

Can’t write your resume? Hire someone to do it for you or trade resume editing services with a friend. Know you need to do something about your drinking? Talk to a therapist and/or look into twelve-step or reduction groups in your area. Need to stand up to an unreasonable request from your boss? Call your sister and role-play various scenarios until you feel prepared. Never got a driver’s license and now you are moving to rural Iowa at age 55? Call the local driver’s ed. and make an appointment for a lesson.

For me, Helen typed up a short, professional letter reminding the professor of who I was, detailing our agreement and when the project was turned in, and politely asking her to please turn in the grade. I sent a certified mail, I followed up with a voice mail to let the professor know to expect the letter and planned to call again a week later to follow-up, but by then the grade had been turned in and the whole fiasco was over.

Also read Intrusive Thoughts: Where They Come From and Why

Should I have been able to write the letter myself? Sure, but part of me was so triggered by this that it had stopped me in my tracks, and the letter was simply not getting written on my own. Did Helen’s involvement diminish the relief and exhilaration I felt to finally have this solved? Not a bit. I felt relieved, exhilarated, and really grateful to have such a terrific friend.

What are you avoiding? Who could you talk to about it? How could you make it easier? Make your list now. Ask yourself, “How would it feel to have all of these problems solved?”

Now go get started.

The Anxiety Is Lying To You

If you find this article, please share it with your friends and folks 🙂

Written by: Tonya Lester, LCSW
Originally appeared on:
Republished with permission
How To Deal With Anxiety Pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

6 Best Teas To Drink For Anxiety: Calm In A Cup

Best Teas To Drink For Anxiety: Calm In A Cup

Are you feeling a bit wound up, tensed and on edge lately? Anxiety can be a real buzzkill, however, there is a very simple thing you can do to deal with it. Have some tea! Yes, that soothing elixir has been sipped for centuries to calm the jitters and ease the mind. Today we are going to explore some of the best teas to drink for anxiety.

The benefits of tea are enormous and widely-known, however there are some teas which can be a huge help for you, if you deal with anxiety often. In this article, we’ll spill the tea on the six best teas to drink for anxiety.

So, grab your favorite mug, get cozy, and let’s explore the world of herbal remedies that’ll have you saying, “Anxiety, who?”


Up Next

How To Control Obsessive Thoughts: 7 Tips To Embrace Mental Clarity And Find Serenity

Obsess No More: How to Control Obsessive Thoughts Like a Pro

Do you ever feel disturbed by never-ending intrusive and distressing thoughts? Do you feel trapped in a loop of obsessive thoughts that invade your mind? Thoughts that affect your mental peace and keep you from enjoying the present moment? If yes, then it’s time you find out how to control obsessive thoughts.

Obsessive thoughts can be persistent, overwhelming, and exhausting. So let’s explore what are obsessive thoughts, their signs, their causes, and most importantly, effective strategies to gain control over them. 

So, let’s embark on a journey of self-discovery and learn how to tame the wild horses of our minds.

What are Obsessive Thoughts?

Up Next

Waking Up Feeling Anxious In The Morning? How To Deal With Morning Anxiety

Morning Anxiety: How To Deal With Anxiety After Waking Up

Do you experience anxiety after waking up in the morning? A terrible anxiety in the morning you just don’t know how to deal with it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This article is going to talk about morning anxiety and how to deal with morning anxiety, so that your mornings feel more relaxed, calm and peaceful.

If you commonly wake up in the morning filled with anxiety, you are not alone. Many people wake up with fight-or-flight sensations and feel baffled as to how they can already feel anxious when their feet haven’t even touched the floor yet.

A variety of factors can play a part in morning anxiety: excess stress,

Up Next

13 Ways To Quiet A Worried Mind

Ways To Quiet A Worried Mind

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s easy for our minds to be overloaded with worrisome thoughts. So, how to deal with anxious thoughts? Here are 13 effective ways to quiet a worried mind, offering you the serenity and clarity you need to navigate life’s challenges with ease.

Our minds are basically recorders that play (and replay) their soundtracks all day long, sometimes all night long too. Some people have recordings that tend to be more pleasant and present. Some people’s thinking patterns lean towards the optimistic or realistic side.

Others, not so much. Many people are plagued with worrisome thoughts that lead them to feel chronically stressed, anxious, dep

Up Next

Is Your Child Anxious? 3 Anxiety Symptoms In Children You Shouldn’t Ignore and How To Help

Anxiety Symptoms In Children You Shouldn't Ignore

Does your child struggle with irrational fears and worries? While these could be a normal part of growing up, they could also be signs of something more serious. Let’s take a look at anxiety symptoms in children.

As parents, we often strive to create a safe and nurturing environment for our children, but sometimes, we may overlook the subtle signs of mental health issues that they exhibit. Today, we are going to shed light on what causes anxiety in children, its signs, and how to treat anxiety in children.

By understanding these crucial aspects, we can provide the support and care our children need to navigate their anxiety and flourish.

What is Anxiety in Children?

Up Next

6 Hallmarks Of A High Strung Personality: Navigating The Taut Wire

Signs Of A High Strung Personality

Do you ever feel like you’re wound up like a tight spring? If your answer is yes, then chances are you have a high strung personality. You feel like you are on the edge all the time and only a little flick will throw you off.

Stress and anxiety are your best friends, and no matter how much you may try to relax and let go of your uptight nature, it just doesn’t seem to work. However, don’t think that there’s something wrong with you. You are a perfectly normal human being, who just feels a bit more anxious than other people (stop being too hard on yourself!)

Today, we are going to talk about what does being high strung really means, what causes high strung personality, and how to stop being high strung. Let’s first talk about what is a high strung personality.

Up Next

Debunking Anxiety Myths: 9 False Beliefs About Anxiety That You Shouldn’t Fall For

Anxiety Myths: Lies You've Been Told About Anxiety

Do you often feel anxious or have worries that seem to consume your thoughts? If so, you may be suffering from anxiety. Unfortunately, anxiety is often misunderstood, leading to the perpetuation of various anxiety myths and misconceptions.

Anxiety is a common experience that affects millions of people worldwide. Today, let us delve into the realm of anxiety myths, debunking them one by one to shed light on the truth behind these widely held misconceptions. 

So, let’s embark on this journey together and challenge our preconceived notions about anxiety.

9 Anxiety Myths You Must Know About

Ready to debunk common