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Managing anxiety

How to cope with the worry and fear.

Managing anxietyThe human body developed defense mechanisms, like the fight-or-flight response, to deal with threats of predators and aggressors. When faced with a threat, our bodies release hormones that rev up our nervous system to prepare for physical action. Our heart and breathing quicken, our muscles tense and our senses are sharpened.

But the defenses humans adapted against physical dangers aren’t effective in the same way against the threats of modern life. And a constantly activated stress response can make you more vulnerable to serious health problems.

How can I keep my anxiety under control?

Persistent or chronic stress can place vulnerable individuals at risk of developing depression and/or anxiety disorder. But you can learn what triggers your anxiety, find ways to manage stressful situations and take good care of yourself to minimize everyday anxiety.

Self-help tips for managing anxiety

  • Take a deep breath and count to 10. Stepping back from the problem lets you clear your head.
  • Get past it. The feelings of anxiety can seem unbearable, but you’ve always gotten through them. Accept the fear and give it time to pass.
  • Control your worry. Spend 30 minutes thinking about your concerns and what you can do about them.
  • Focus more on what’s really happening than on what might happen. Then let go of the worry and go on with your day.
  • Learn yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.
  • Talk to someone. Share your problems with a friend or counselor who can help you gain perspective or join a support group.
  • Track your anxiety. Write in a journal what you’re afraid might happen, then what is more likely to happen or what really is. Keep a record of the action you took to solve a problem.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, exercise and take time to relax.
  • Avoid alcohol. It may temporarily soothe the anxiety somewhat. But alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which creates more anxiety and can even trigger panic attacks. Caffeine, nicotine and unprescribed drugs can also aggravate anxiety.
  • Get medical help. If you continue to have anxiety that you can’t control on your own, talk to your doctor or therapist about treatment alternatives.


Mayo Clinic
American Academy of Family Physicians
Anxiety Disorders Association of America

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