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Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can manifest in several different ways, including excessive worry, fear and physical symptoms, like sweating and a rapid heartbeat. If left unmanaged, anxiety can significantly impact a person's daily life and overall well-being. However, there are many simple, helpful ways to get your anxiety under control and positively boost your mental health. Read on to learn more about effective strategies for managing anxiety and achieving a calm mind.

What is anxiety?

Before diving into strategies for managing anxiety, it's essential to understand what anxiety is and how it affects us. Anxiety is a natural response to stress, and it can actually be helpful in certain situations. For example, feeling anxious before a job interview can motivate you to prepare and perform well. However, anxiety can become excessive and have a negative impact when it starts interfering with your daily life or results in constant worrying that feels difficult to turn off, which can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders, affecting approximately 40 million adults in the United States alone. They can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry and life experiences. Examples of specific types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.

What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?

The connection between your mental and emotional health, mind and body can be quite powerful. This is why anxiety often leads to experiencing physical symptoms too, which can cause additional worrying or make a person believe they have a serious medical condition. However, once the anxiety is properly managed and it subsides, the physical symptoms associated with it typically resolve and go away. Examples of common physical symptoms from anxiety include:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

These symptoms can be overwhelming, uncomfortable and have a major impact on a person's daily life. Therefore, it's crucial to learn how to manage anxiety and reduce its impact on both mental and physical well-being.

How to deal with anxiety and start feeling calmer immediately

Managing anxiety requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. Here are some effective strategies for managing anxiety and achieving a calm mind that will instantly help you feel better when you are anxious or stuck in a cycle of excessive worrying.

  1. Practice deep breathing
    Deep breathing is a simple yet powerful technique for managing anxiety. When we feel anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid, which can further exacerbate physical symptoms. By practicing deep breathing, we can slow down our heart rate and activate the body's relaxation response.

    To practice deep breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, filling your stomach with air. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat this process for a few minutes, focusing on your breath and letting go of any tension in your body.

  2. Engage in regular exercise
    You might be surprised to learn that regular exercise is not only beneficial for physical health but also for mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and improve mood. It also helps reduce stress and tension in the body, which can contribute to anxiety.

    You don't have to engage in intense workouts to reap the benefits of exercise. Even a 30-minute walk or a relaxing yoga session can help reduce your anxiety and promote a calm mind.

  3. Practice mindfulness
    Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without personal judgment. It can help us become more aware of our thoughts and emotions and learn to manage them effectively.

    To practice mindfulness, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, allowing your thoughts to come and go without getting caught up in them. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can also try guided mindfulness meditations, which can be found online or through meditation apps.

  4. Get enough sleep
    Lack of sleep can significantly impact your mental health and make you more susceptible to anxiety. Therefore, it's essential to prioritize getting enough sleep each night. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep and establish a consistent sleep schedule to help regulate your body's internal clock.

    If you struggle with falling or staying asleep, try implementing a relaxing bedtime routine every night. This can include any activities that help you slow down and feel a sense of calmness, such as reading, taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music.

  5. Seek support
    Managing anxiety can be challenging and overwhelming, which is why it's essential to have a solid support system in place. This can include close friends, family or a Gundersen Behavioral Health expert. Talking to someone about your feelings and experiences can help you feel less alone and provide valuable insight and support. Understanding your anxiety and identifying what triggers your anxious thoughts is a major step in learning how to self-cope and process your feelings in a productive, healthy way.  

If you're struggling with anxiety, consider reaching out to a therapist or joining a support group. These resources can provide you with the tools and support you need to manage your anxiety effectively.

“Anxiety is a typical human experience for most people,” says Amber Sherman, manager, Employee Assistance. “The problem with anxiety comes when it interferes in the way you want to live your life. One good way to manage anxiety is to take some time to talk through what you are thinking and feeling. This could be a trusted family member or friend, and it’s also very helpful to talk with a professional counselor to work through anxiety that might be causing you concern. Many employers offer free counseling services, often called Employee Assistance or EAP, and this can be a good place to start on the path of managing anxious distress.” 

When to seek professional help

While the strategies mentioned above can be helpful for managing anxiety, always seek professional help if your symptoms are severe or significantly impacting your daily life. Talk to your primary care provider immediately if your anxiety becomes too excessive to manage on your own or leads to other serious mental health conditions, such as depression and addiction. There’s no shame in needing to use professional resources, like Gundersen Behavioral Health, to help you navigate your condition and take control of your mental health. A mental health professional can provide you with a proper diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan specific to your individual goals and needs. 

Signs that it may be time to seek professional help:

  • Your anxiety interferes with your daily life and relationships.
  • You’re experiencing panic attacks.
  • It’s becoming difficult to manage your mental health and symptoms on your own.
  • You have a past history of trauma or other mental health disorders.

Remember—seeking help is a sign of strength, and there is no shame in asking for support when you need it. Don’t suffer alone in silence. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, visit or call 2-1-1 (or 800-362-8255) for free, 24/7, confidential mental health resources and immediate assistance.

Anxiety is a common mental health issue that can significantly impact a person's daily life. However, by understanding anxiety and implementing effective strategies for managing it, you can achieve a positive, calm mind and take control of your mental health starting today.

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