How to make your anxiety feel a little smaller

“Anxiety is a normal, predictable part of life,” said Tom Corboy, MFT, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, and co-author of the upcoming book The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.

However, “people with an anxiety disorder are essentially phobic about the feeling state of anxiety.” And they’ll go to great lengths to avoid it.

Some people experience generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), excessive anxiety about real-life concerns, such as money, relationships, health and academics, he said.

Others struggle with society anxiety, and worry about being evaluated or embarrassing themselves, he said. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might become preoccupied with symmetry or potential contamination, he said.

“The bottom line is that people can experience anxiety, and anxiety disorders, related to just about anything.”

Some people may not struggle with a clinical disorder, but want to manage sporadic (yet intrusive) bouts of anxiety and stress.

Whether you have occasional anxiety or a diagnosable disorder, the good news is that you can take small, effective and straightforward steps every day to manage and minimize your anxiety.

While medication may seem like a quick fix, there are a variety of things you can do at home to get rid of that gnawing, uncomfortable feeling of uneasiness. If the thought of even taking an Advil makes you cringe, here are five helpful ways to get rid of anxiety without a having to get a prescription.

 

EXERCISE

 

Physical exercise can not only help get rid of your anxiety in the present moment, but it also helps you deal with your emotions in the long run. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, help with sleep patterns, provide stress relief, and also improve self-esteem. Research has shown that even a short 10-minute walk can be as beneficial for anxiety as more vigorous exercise, so if you are feeling uneasy, taking a quick walk around the block might be a helpful solution.

 

MEDITATE

 

Meditation isn’t just for hippies. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be more powerful in quelling anxiety symptoms than general stress management techniques, studies have found. By sitting quietly and focusing on their awareness, people experienced improved anxiety, less stress, and better eating and sleep habits. There are different levels of meditation, from sitting in silence to hours to just being aware of your thoughts and not trying to change them, but starting somewhere can have profound effects on your anxiety levels.

 

LIMIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA

 

Recent studies have found that looking at social media can raise people’s levels of anxiety. “People look at Facebook and Instagram, and it makes them more depressed because they’re comparing their lives to other people,” says Lindsey Rosenthal, a Los Angeles-based Individual and Couples psychologist Try to stay off these social media sites to avoid comparing yourself to people’s best parts of themselves or to avoid getting that dreaded fear of missing out.

ELIMINATE CAFFEINE

 

Although coffee has its benefits, caffeine consumption can actually worsen anxiety symptoms or even create anxiety in situations where you wouldn’t normally be anxious. Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger a fight or flight effect in your body as well as trigger insomnia, so you might want to consider putting down that cup of joe if you’re feeling a little anxious.

GET TO THE ROOT OF YOUR FEELINGS

 

“The best way to deal with anxiety is to figure out what the underlying fear of your anxiety is,” says Rosenthal. “Then you have to change your pattern of thinking.” It can be easy to fall victim to the constant pressure of having a stable job, financial security, and something important going on in your life, but try for a moment to stop thinking about these things and just be, Rosenthal suggest. “Be aware of the conversations in your head and don’t try to control anything you can’t control.”