The Top 4 Coping Skills
For Adults With Anxiety
What do you do when anxiety strikes?
Everyone feels anxious sometimes!
However, if you happened upon this blog post, my guess is that you struggle with anxiety and/or panic sometimes… or maybe even all the time.
Here’s the good news: Coping skills for anxiety can help you manage (and alleviate) anxious thoughts and feelings in a tense moment.
There are many evidence-based and effective coping skills for adults with anxiety.
There’s just a teeny tiny problem.
The most effective coping skills are ridiculously simple.
Why on earth would that be a problem? You may ask.
Well, I have found that coping skills for anxiety are so deceptively simple, that people dismiss them and don’t try them out…
or give up after they don’t completely alleviate anxious feelings.
Secondly, it can be a problem because these coping skills aren’t quite as effective when you are having severe anxiety and panic.
People often fail to draw on coping skills until they are super panicked.
But, coping skills are just that… skills that need to be cultivated and developed.
I encourage you to try out the exercises BEFORE anxiety strikes.
While coping mechanisms for anxiety can help you deal with anxious thoughts and feeling in the moment, they will help you even more if you have practiced them regularly.
In other words, you can’t develop strong coping skills as effectively when you are in fight-or-flight as when you are calm.
Therefore, I strongly suggest making using coping skills a daily practice.
Here’s another reason it’s a good idea to hone your coping skills:
Coping skills are highly individualized. Some work better than others. I can’t guarantee what skills for coping with anxiety will work best for you.
Therefore, ‘test drive’ some (so to speak) and see what is the most helpful for you.
Cultivating anxiety coping skills can make all the difference.
Will your skills take all the anxiety away? It depends…
- On the situation
- On the level of anxiety that you feel
- On how you are doing in the larger context of your life.
What I can tell you is that coping skills for adults with anxiety will- at a minimum- take the edge off your anxiety.
Plus, simply knowing there are tools that you can draw on can provide comfort and reassurance in a very anxious moment!
Here’s the #1 will-work-to-some-degree-for-every-human-being coping skill:
Did I mention already that coping skills for adults with anxiety can be deceptively simple?
Case in point: Breathing exercises.
Breathing exercise work because of the biological mechanisms that they trigger.
So, for example, you can be in a panic and dismiss breathing exercises…
Luckily- if you were to half-heartedly try the breathing exercises- your thoughts & feelings about them won’t sabotage their effectiveness.
Just the simple act of breathing in a specific way, you turn off the sympathetic nervous system (this is the system that is running the show when anxiety shows up) and you turn on the parasympathetic nervous system (or the calming nervous system).
If you suffer from anxiety, I beg you, try breathing exercises.
Here’s a super easy breathing exercise that even kids don’t mind doing.
Need more convincing? Watch this TedTalk
#2 Coping Skills for Adults with Anxiety: Get your body in motion!
What does a zebra herd do after being chanced by a lion? You’ll often see them shaking. Why do they do this…
Not only does it relieve the muscular tension but it also burns off the extra adrenaline that is still present from the “threat.”
Essentially, it calms the nervous system.
Does shaking work for humans work as it does for zebras?
Why yes it does! Give it a try.
Or move your body in a way that you enjoy!
It could be:
- A fast-paced walk
- Jumping jacks
- Table Tennis
- Hop Scotch
The sky is the limit. You do you… and get that body of yours in motion!
Find the physical activity that is most calming for you and enjoy the coping skill that is also cardiovascularly beneficial!
3. Spend some time in nature.
Now, this suggestion will only work if you can be in nature.
If you find that being in nature really is code for ruminating-in-a-beautiful-setting, that’s not helpful.
However, for some people, there is nothing more relaxing than spending some time outside.
If this is you, see if spending some time in the great outdoors doesn’t do some good for your stress levels.
Coping Skills for Adults with Anxiety #4 Grounding exercises
I love grounding exercises! Getting focused on the details that are around you can help you get out of the anxiety spiral in no time flat.
If your mind is spinning, this may be the furthest thing from your mind to try, but I beg you, please do try it.
Here’s what you need to know first: If you are very anxious, you need to be very purposeful and cognitively active when doing grounding exercises.
Let’s say you are looking at a tree. Here’s what you do:
- Name 5 things you can see.
- Name 4 things you can feel.
- Name 3 things you can hear.
- Name 2 things you can smell.
- Name 1 thing you can taste.
This is called the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique.
You can try another coping skill for anxiety, known as the 3-3-3 rule. It involves the following steps:
- look around and name 3 things you can see
- listen to identify 3 sounds you can hear
- move 3 parts of your body
Start by doing them one at a time and then see if you can do all three at once.
Lay down in the grass and look up at the sky. Feel the ground beneath you. Smell the grass. Feel the grass.
Remind yourself that you are safe right now.
Needs some more coping skills for anxiety?
You may be thinking, “This is all fine and good, but I’m still struggling.”
If you are overwhelmed and stuck in a hamster wheel of fearful thoughts, it may be time to seek professional help.
Here’s the great thing about anxiety: It is a highly researched condition that is very treatable.
However, your anxiety tells you that your problems are insurmountable.
Anxiety tells you that things will never get better.
Please know that anxiety’s job is to make you feel unsafe and scared.
So, anxiety is feeding you a load of lies… about what you are fearing and about not being able to find relief.
A therapist can teach you evidence-based skills that will help you to start living a life worth living and stop fearing.
Are you ready to give therapy a go!