7 Things That Can Change How You Cope with Anxiety

Making these changes in your life will help you cope with anxiety and be more productive.

Many of us can agree, last year accounted to a tremendous amount of anxiety in our lives. We were all faced with the unknown. Many suffered varying levels of anxiety depending on our circumstances. I can tell you from personal experience that 2020 and even 2021 have been the most stressful and anxious years of my life.

As a single mom with two adult children still living at home during the pandemic, it was all on my shoulders to make sure that our lives didn’t fall apart. Being a self-employed designer, I began to worry about if and when I would start losing business. It didn’t take long for design projects to be cancelled and others to be postponed. To compensate for the loss of income, I started freelancing for a local real estate company.

Everything seemed to be fine until I received that dreaded call that restrictions were being applied to real estate activities like showings and inspections. Sellers started postponing their listings and buyers cancelled showings because of these restrictions. This meant they would no longer need me for transaction paperwork and daily office activities. I began to panic! I was already down to half my normal income. At this rate, would I be able to put food on the table next week?

Image of woman stressed from paying bills.

A couple days later, I received an email from one of my clients that had postponed work on their website. They were looking for a graphic designer to work remotely and full-time. I interviewed the next day, accepted the job and let the real estate company know that I wouldn’t be able to continue freelancing for them. The rest of 2020 seemed to go well and my anxiety was leveling out.

Then 2021 begins and several events happened that turned my life upside down. Trigger the panic and anxiety again! The first few months of the year were a blur! Landlords called to tell me they were getting a divorce and had to sell the house. I spent the first few weeks in January looking for alternative housing. The beginning of March, I was laid off. I qualified for unemployment but it was half of what I was making weekly.

On March 17th, my 13 year old companion chihuahua passed away. I didn’t have time to grieve her death because I was worrying about so many other things. After the move and everything was put away, I started spiraling out of control. My depression and anxiety took me to places that I haven’t been to since childhood. Everything seemed to hit me at once! Next thing I know, I’m sitting in an exam room crying my eyes out requesting medication.

Image of woman with anxiety asking for help.

One thing I know for sure is that if we allow stress to get the better of us and we don’t take precautions we will all spiral out of control at some point. It’s only a matter of time! I have been guilty of letting the feeling of fear creep into my mind and fester for days, even months without asking for help. I have so many things that I feel are a priority and I forget to take care of myself. If we let this happen we end up becoming anxious or even paranoid of what shoe is going to drop next.

At its core, anxiety is a fear of misfortune, danger or impending worst case scenarios. It’s just fear of what may happen in the future.

What is the best way to overcome anxiety?

The best way I know of to avoid anxiety is by generating good habits that will help manage stress. Keep in mind, what you DO NOT do is just as important as what you actually do.

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”

– Kahlil Gibran

Why do I have so much anxiety?

Our brain is extremely complicated! Plus everyone is different and my stressers may be completely different from you. We all experience different symptoms as well, which make it very difficult to narrow down an exact cause of our anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by our environment, genetics, social media and anything in between.

These 7 Things Can Change How You Cope with Anxiety

Now, let’s talk about the seven things you can change if you are prone to anxiety. Making a few changes in your life can alleviate your anxiety and sometimes you can overcome it completely. I know some of them can be difficult to cut completely, but for positive mental health, it’s worth a try. Even just minimizing them can have a positive effect on your anxiety!

Image of hands and phone - Anxiety change #1 Social media.

Change 1: Social media

Try to avoid extended hours of social media, especially if you are feeling gloomy. When you are feeling upset or anxious, spending too much time on social media platforms can increase your level of anxiety significantly. If you are in a position where you can take a 30 or 60 day break from social media, it will do wonders for your mind and soul.

I have curated my social media to be kind to my mental health. On Instagram my feed is filled with what makes me happy and relaxed, creativity and art, sprinkled with some comedy. My personal Facebook has only a handful of friends and most of my time is spent on my business page where I am a member of creative and business related groups.

TikTok’s “for you” page is filled with creativity, body positivity, small businesses, and even some comedy. Finally, YouTube is where I watch and learn from other creative businesses. When I’m feeling sad or anxious that day, I stay off social media completely.

Image of two women arguing - Anxiety change #2 Hanging out with toxic people.

Change 2: Hanging out with toxic people

Some people can find a problem for every solution or want to argue about even the smallest things. This type of toxic individual will always leave you aggravated or feeling negative. The longer you stay around them, the more upset and anxious you’ll become.

I have had a few friends that I felt were toxic to my mental health and after hanging out for even a small amount of time, I was left feeling stressed and anxious. My anxiety and depression can’t handle this added stress and negativity. Therefore, I have chosen to stop hanging out with people that I feel are toxic and could cause me to become anxious.

If you have friends that cause you pain, stress and anxiety, don’t be afraid to cleanse your social circle. No matter if you have been friends for 5, 10, 15, or even 30 years! It is never too late to hang out with people that leave you feeling positive and opimistic for the future!

Image of a woman upset - Anxiety change #3 Watching the news.

Change 3: Watching the news

With everything that has been going on, the news is filled with tragic events and stories that make us feel all kinds of emotions. It’s easy to become anxious if we watch the news all the time.

I prefer to record the news and watch it later. This allows me the ability to fast forward through the sections that make me anxious. I still stay informed but have control over what I’m watching.

Technology helps us control some of what we are watching when it comes to the news on cable. You just need to implement these tools and change some of your viewing habits when watching the news on YouTube. Cutting or minimizing the news in your life will allow you to focus on more positive things.

Image of alcoholic beverages - Anxiety change #4 Consuming stimulants.

Change 4: Consuming stimulants

Consuming too many stimulants can make you feel good temporarily, but they’re harmful to your health in the long run. If you wish to reduce your anxiety, it might be beneficial to reduce or eliminate the use of stimulants.

Drinking too much iced chai tea on a daily basis is the biggest change that I need to make. This ticks the caffeine and sugar box for me. I have noticed that on days that I am feeling increasingly depressed or anxious, I drink more chai. I have a tendency to tell myself that it has been a rough day, so I deserve another cup.

This is an ongoing struggle for me when my anxiety levels are high. Also, drinking chai after 5pm disrupts my sleep so I try not to have another cup after 5pm. Some days are easier than others and it is something I am working on.

Image of a woman watching tv - Anxiety change #5 Sedentary lifestyle.

Change 5: Sedentary lifestyle

Leading a sedentary lifestyle makes you feel lethargic, depressed and even physically weak. Our bodies are made to move. It can be difficult to find the time or be in the mood to exercise. If you spend at least 15-30 minutes a day exercising, it will release the endorphins you need to feel happier. Feeling less anxious and happier is one of the biggest benefits of exercising.

There are days that I wake up in a negative mood and just cuddle up on the couch and binge Netflix. I do try to at least get a short walk with the dog on the days that I don’t feel like exercising. I can also feel a difference in my body and mood just by stretching for a few minutes in the morning. The days that I do exercise, I feel less tired and much more positive about my life.

Even if you don’t feel like exercising today, just find something that will keep your body in motion for even a few minutes. You will feel better and it will have a positive effect on your anxiety.

Image of a woman sleeping - Anxiety change #6 Not getting enough sleep

Change 6: Not getting enough sleep

A lot of us burn candles at both ends all the time. Society makes it seem that material success and wealth is the secret to happiness. But if you are in a constant state of anxiety because you place priority on work and not sleep, you will become increasingly tired, irritable, and less productive. 

Personally, It wasn’t until a couple years ago when I realized how lack of sleep affected my body. Gradually, I started having a difficult time staying awake no matter what time of the day it was. Feeling increasingly anxious, my heart started racing more frequently with minimal activity, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and at one point the left side of my face went numb. Thinking I was having a stroke and immediately had my daughter take me to the hospital.

They did the usual evaluations in ER and then decided to keep me over night to monitor me. After blood work, X-rays, EKG, MRI and a stress test, they still couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I felt lost and frustrated when they released me the next evening with no diagnosis.

A few day later was assigned a Tele Nurse that called me once a week. During these calls, we would spend around 30 minutes discussing what I was experiencing that week and how I was feeling. During the second call, she suggested that I could possibly have sleep apnea and that I should contact my doctor to schedule a sleep test. The whole process took several weeks to complete because I visited a sleep center that would hook me up to sensors to monitor my sleep overnight.

I received my results later that week with a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. Finally with a diagnosis, I could be fitted for a CPAP machine. The sleep center scheduled me to come back in again the next week. They fitted me for a CPAP and monitored my sleep for another night with the device. They then sent off the results and a prescription to my doctor to order supplies.

I have been using the CPAP for a little over two years now and I have been able to sleep through the night and feel much more productive with less anxiety. The app on my phone connects directly to my device and keeps track of the amount of sleep I am getting every night and shows me if my mask is releasing air. I have noticed that I feel the best when I get between 8 to 8 1/2 hours of sleep. If I get less than 8 hours of sleep, I feel lethargic and tend to be anxious throughout the day.

I wrote down my daily results for about a month. This helped me track how much sleep I was getting and how I felt that day. Everyone is different and my body may need more or less sleep than you. So, my suggestion is to keep track of how much sleep you are getting and how you feel throughout the day. Try keeping track for a few weeks, maybe even a month or so. Then take that knowledge and try to keep your sleep cycle steady and see how much better you start to feel. By giving your mind and body a rest, it can be one of the best things you can do to help reduce anxiety.

Image of progress chalkboard - Anxiety change #7 Comparing yourself with others.

Change 7: Comparing yourself with others

Comparing yourself to others will always make you feel either better or worse about yourself. Usually the latter will happen. Doing this is not a positive way to grow and can have a negative impact on your mental health. Only compare yourself with your previous self. Strive to do better and be better than you were yesterday, last week, last month or even last year.

Aim to beat YOUR personal best! But don’t beat yourself up along the way. If you make measurable progress, you will feel less anxious about your life or business. I try to choose progress over perfection. It is way more stressful to be perfect!

I watch positive creators on social media and YouTube so that I can grow and encourage new ideas for my business. I stay away from comparing myself to others and instead think of it as research. Having a creative business can be challenging and at times difficult to grasp that everyone is at a different level creatively. Be kind to yourself and you will feel more positive and less anxious.

Floral digital illustration with hand lettering, be kind to yourself, by Lissa Designs.

Tips for Anxiety Success

Apply these 7 things to keep your anxiety levels under control. Another good way to help you relax is to spend time meditating, keeping a gratitude journal and try to stay incorporate things in your life that keep you optimistic for the future.

I watch a lot of Skillshare classes and learn new skills and techniques from YouTube tutorials. I find advancing my creative knowledge and abilities help me to be more positive about myself and my business.

Invest in yourself!

Find what works best for you and do it consistently. Always remember that we must live our life to the fullest and try not to put restrictions on ourself and our business.

Take each day at a time and tackle each obstacle positively to keep your anxiety under control. One thing I live by is if it doesn’t have a positive impact on me or my business, let it go!

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

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