Whether it’s from going on a date, receiving bad news from a friend, or leaving a job, all of these situations can cause anxiety in our day-to-day lives. After all, anxiety is our body’s natural response to stressful situations and generally subsides once the situation in question is resolved. But for those with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety outlasts the stressful situations and often impairs our ability to engage in daily activities.
Here are some habits to incorporate into your everyday routine to manage your anxiety:
Current research suggests that consistent exercise of moderate intensity can significantly improve symptoms of anxiety (Al-Qahti et al., 2018). Try to start with preferred and appropriate exercises relative to your respective physical ability (e.g., dancing, hiking, weightlifting, swimming, etc.). To minimize potential burnout, incorporate rest days and a variety of fun physical activities into your routine.
To practice mindfulness is to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and experiences through a non-judgmental lens. Mindfulness provides a way to respond to anxiety with awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Moreover, mindfulness has been shown to be quite effective in improving symptoms of anxiety. One study found that 78% of participants no longer met the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) after mindfulness treatment (Roemer et al., 2008).
Limit use of social media
It is indisputable that social media has brought about significant change in the new age, but research suggests that excessive use of social media could worsen your anxiety due to the overwhelming volume of information that is taken in (Pew Research Center, 2015). This information can lead to feelings of inadequacy, despair, and isolation. To limit your social media use, try setting a 15-minute timer right before you start browsing social media and write down a productive activity to do after the time is up (e.g., exercise, mindfulness, a new hobby, lunch with friends, etc.). Engaging in productive activities will often leave you feeling more fulfilled and—consequently—less anxious.
In our busy world, it can be tempting to skip sleep in order to get more work done, study for that tough exam, or stay out with friends. But a lack of sleep can ultimately worsen your symptoms of anxiety. To help prioritize sleep, you can calculate an appropriate wake-up time and bedtime based on your everyday routine. From there, you can make gradual adjustments to your sleep until you reach your desired amount of sleep.
Start a journal
Journaling can be a helpful tool to manage anxiety since it requires people to reflect upon and organize their feelings. By journaling your own thoughts and feelings, you can recognize various patterns and emotions that may accompany your anxiety. Utilizing various journaling prompts relevant to your current mood or engaging in a free flow of words is a useful place to start. There is no single way to approach journaling, so be sure to do what feels right for you.
Incorporating these productive habits into your daily routine can help you manage your anxiety, but they cannot replace professional help. Our therapists at Pacific CBT are highly trained to help you work through your anxiety. Contact us today to schedule a free, 15-minute video consultation.
Al-Qahtani, A. M., Shaikh, M. A., & Shaikh, I. A. (2018). Exercise as a treatment modality for depression: A narrative review. Alexandria Journal of Medicine, 54(4), 429–435. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajme.2018.05.004
Hampton, K., Rainie, L., Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2019, December 31). Psychological stress and social media use. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2015/01/15/psychological-stress-and-social-media-use-2/
Roemer, L., Orsillo, S. M., & Salters-Pedneault, K. (2008). Efficacy of an acceptance-based behavior therapy for generalized anxiety disorder: Evaluation in a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(6), 1083–1089. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0012720
About the Author: Christian Wertman currently works as a behavior therapist in the field of applied behavior analysis. Christian received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Francisco State University and has aspirations for a career in clinical psychology.