Lisabeth Wotherspoon, LICSW
Rochester, NH



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Anxiety Treatment           anxiety treatment           

5 Effective Self-Help Strategies To Decrease Anxiety

Number 1: Face your fears. The most common mistake that people make in coping with their anxiety is to avoid whatever situation triggers their anxiety. Although you may feel immediate, intense relief whenever you avoid an anxiety-provoking situation, the long-term effect is actually to worsen your anxiety. Avoidance makes it extremely unlikely that your anxiety will ever decrease as long as you continue to avoid the situation.

Number 2: Be in tune with your level of anxiety. Try to catch your anxiety as soon as it starts. You will have a much easier path to feeling better when you intervene at the earliest possible point. For example, at the moment that you find yourself feeling a little bit tense or anxious, see Numbers 3 through 5 below.

Number 3: Know what helps you to relax. Make a list of enjoyable and relaxing activities. The list should be what YOU enjoy and find relaxing. There are endless options - take a walk, listen to music, take a warm shower, sit with your pet, imagine yourself on a warm beach...

Number 4: Regularly practice something on your list. Even if you are not feeling intensely anxious at a particular moment, you can help reduce your overall anxiety level by regularly engaging in enjoyable activities (not a bad assignment for homework, right?). Plus, the more comfortable you are with taking time to relax, the more likely you are to actually use your relaxing activities at a time when you feelanxious.

Number 5: Consider learning relaxation techniques. There are many options for relaxation techniques. The key is to do a little research online or at the bookstore. Find a technique that appeals to you. Some types of relaxation include, diaphragmatic breathing (or deep-breathing), meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and body scanning. Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the simplest techniques that can be used whenever you feel anxious. Remember, like #4 above, you need to practice to make this effective!

Common mistakes:

· Avoiding everything that makes you anxious. For example, think of when you learned to ride a bike. You were probably afraid the first time, but your fear gradually decreased until you mastered it! If you never tried to ride a bike, then you would still be afraid to ride it today and probably more afraid than you were initially. The same strategy applies with anxiety. With each time you face something that makes you anxious - even just a little bit anxious - your overall anxiety will decrease.

· Waiting until you're anxious before you try to relax. Rather, you should practice relaxing while you are relaxed. Relaxing needs to be a skill that you master before you apply it to your anxiety (would you learn to ride a bike on a narrow, bumpy sidewalk?).

If you do not know what is making you feel anxious or cannot imagine facing anything that makes you anxious, then your best option is to consider seeing a mental health professional who will help you work through your anxiety.

Tamas Gloetzer

Tamas Gloetzer

To learn more about anxiety's major contributor - fear, you can sign up for a free report on overcoming fear at this website: Tamas Gloetzer is also the publisher of a new book on the topic of anxiety and fears available at this website:


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