Are you managing your anxiety in unhealthy ways?
Updated: Jun 4
Are you coping with your anxiety? Folks find themselves needing to cope with many things these days and with the ongoing pressures of life expectations, individuals are finding themselves faced with heightened levels of stress and anxiety. The following are common ways that individuals cope with their anxiety:
Excessive screen time
Withdrawing from friends, partners or family
Over-engaging in a social life to avoid facing problems
Over-eating or binge eating
Under-eating or food restriction
Over sleeping / sleeping too much
Lashing out at others emotionally or physically
Excessive drug or alcohol use
Over-consumption of caffeine
Engaging in risky behavior
Engaging in self-harm
Over-exercising or overtraining
Passiveness or passive-aggressiveness
Saying “yes” to things you don’t want to do
Dismissing or avoiding your feelings
Dismissing or ignoring your needs
Seeking validation from others
Enabling others poor choices
Making excuses for others
Working excessively or overworking
Redoing work until it’s perfect
Not taking chances
Not pursuing interests, hobbies or goals
Staying in unfulfilling or unhealthy relationships
Catastrophizing (jumping to the worst possible outcome)
Self-criticizing or negative self-talk
Dwelling on the past
The above certainly isn’t a comprehensive list, however, it provides a good sense of the many different ways in which human beings cope with their anxiety and we are not referring to helpful or healthy coping. The coping mechanisms listed above tend to provide short-term relief, do not have lasting positive results, and can often be a detriment to your overall mental health and wellbeing. We aren’t telling you this to shame you. We understand that today’s world is stressful. Anxiety levels are extremely high and it often feels daunting or even impossible to cope with all of those pressures weighing you down. We get it and we love to provide psycho-education because we don't expect you to know everything or to always know when something isn't healthy or helpful.
Once we get into the habit of coping in a particular way, it can be extremely difficult to break these tendencies. We recommend finding one healthy coping mechanism that you’re willing to try and pair it with a healthy habit that you are already engaging in consistently, like brushing your teeth in the evening or eating breakfast in the morning. This will help you form the new habit while feeling successful in doing so because you’re pairing it with something you’ve already managed to build into your daily routine. Once you’ve got a grip on the process and have successfully established a new coping mechanism, add in one or two more to build up your healthy coping skills. The key is to find a few coping mechanisms that you can practice daily or throughout the week to help regulate your nervous system overall rather than trying to practice a coping technique when you're highly stressed or anxious, which tends to result in higher levels of defeat.
The following are examples of coping mechanisms that are highly encouraged and useful in managing anxiety:
Set and maintain boundaries
Practice daily affirmations to help soothe anxiety
Begin a daily or weekly self-care ritual
Practice assertive communication
Challenge cognitive distortions
Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Take a few deep breaths throughout the day to help regulate your nervous system
Notice how you are feeling and extend care towards your emotions
Prioritize sleep and develop a bedtime ritual that fosters adequate rest
Practice self-compassion and empathy
Practice asking for help
Pause when you’re feeling overwhelmed
Practice mindful eating and exercise
If you’re experiencing difficulties managing anxiety on your own, it’s ok to seek help.
Therapists, such as ourselves, are trained to help you navigate through these difficult times. You don’t have reinvent the wheel or do it on your own. We’re here to help. Connect with us to request a free 15-minute consultation to discuss how we can be of support. We’d love to hear from you!
Samantha & the team at PGH :)
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