A Mental Health Therapist's Tools for Coping with Anxiety
| by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Mental Health Therapist |
Anxiety disorders are the most common emotional illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older. The impact of anxiety can vary from minor daily interruptions to a major attack. When you are dealing with anxiety, it can feel like no one GETS IT-- like no one understands what you are going through.
I want you to know that this feeling is very common. Our anxieties can hold us hostage and make us avoid enriching experiences and circumstances. As a mental health therapist, I'm not immune to the same paralyzing thought patterns. I still find myself in moments of overwhelm and worry!
However, I have explored different coping strategies to pull me out of the spiral of anxiety. Just as the mental impact can show up differently, these tools may not work for every situation. I recommend trying multiple strategies until you find the one that works best FOR YOU.
Here are MY top three tools for coping with anxiety:
1. GUIDED MEDITATION -
While meditation can be a great tool to support mental health on a daily basis (mental hygiene), in the midst of anxiety it can be difficult to sit calmly and pull your mind away from the worry at forefront. I find that using a guided meditation helps me to shift focus slightly. Meditation apps such as CALM and Headspace have excellent prompts and recorded guides specifically for managing anxiety and panic attacks. Save your favorites, and know this is something you can return to as needed.
2. CRAFTING -
Active mindfulness can look like engaging your creative brain in an activity that you enjoy. Adult crafts like paint-by-number, coloring books, jewelry making, or even cooking force a shift away from your 'Left-Side Analytical Brain'. When we are stuck in a rumination pattern, this is helpful for providing a distraction and helping to view your situation with a broader lens. A few minutes of creativity provide peace and grounding. You can explore different craft kits at local stores like Michaels or Joanns; or even right on Amazon!
3. JOURNALING -
I've talked about the mental health benefits of journaling before. This is a really helpful tool for me, as it gives me an opportunity to write out the thoughts holding me captive- and read them back to myself. Often, reading it back you'll notice the 'big things' aren't so big. Just like with meditation, sometimes having a journal prompt is a better way of getting things started versus staring at a blank page! Get my free guided journal for anxiety here.
Other proven strategies for coping with anxiety:
Sweat it out - get physical! Take a brisk walk outside, do some strength training, or practice any style of movement that helps you release anxious energy.
Love it out - spend some time focused on self-love and care. Give yourself the space for acceptance of your emotional state. This may look like a warm bubble bath, a lavish pedicure, or a Netflix-binge all alone.
Talk it out - confide in a close friend or partner how you are feeling; especially if it makes you particularly distant or reactive. It's important that you recognize the boundaries in any particular relationship. For ongoing support, find a Mental Health Therapist who can help you develop the appropriate tools for dealing with anxiety over the long term.
Remember, there's no "right" tool or strategy. The most important thing is to find one that works for you.
Let's keep the conversation going.. Do you have a different strategy for coping with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!
“Our anxieties can hold us hostage and cause us to miss out on enriching experiences.”
I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.
Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).
Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.
Ready to get started?
Book a FREE Discovery Call with Kristen to see if she is a good fit for you!
Want to use your insurance benefits for Mental Health Therapy? Book with Kristen using Advekit.
Some Awesome Adult Crafts on Amazon: