You can learn to mitigate anxiety -- and even prevent it -- if you have strategies to call upon.

Anxiety is a survival mechanism for humans in response to situations that our brain perceives as dangerous. The physical sensations that come with it are ordinary reactions of the body and aren’t harmful in and of themselves. If you’re feeling anxiety, think logically and rationally about it, without being alarmed about feeling that way. Understanding how anxiety works is a good foundation for learning to manage it. Here are some tips.

Accept what’s happening without trying to escape

If you can wait long enough, the fear will disappear. This is the key to controlling anxiety. The greatest pitfall of anxiety is avoidance. Face it, and take control over it!

Breathe slowly and deeply

Use controlled breathing to relax physically and mentally, and to take control of the situation. If you breathe slowly, it will help you to balance your body and recover the energy needed to face your daily life.

Interpret things and situations properly

Focus on a positive attitude towards life. Make an effort to keep going forward, keeping in mind that the way you think will influence how you feel; thinking positively will help you to feel better. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it.

Speak out and express your feelings

When I try to explain to my patients how to fight anxiety effectively, one of the fundamental lessons is that they need to exteriorize their feelings and fears. Like a pressure cooker, you need escape valves; if you don’t open the valve to let off pressure, the moment will come when you explode. Talk often about how you feel. Don’t wait until you explode; speak to someone about your bad feelings while they are still at a low intensity.

Learn to be assertive

Constantly seek equilibrium between yourself and others. You have the right to say what you think, without letting what other people think condition you. Feel like you can be yourself, while always respecting others. You have a right to your own ideas and ideals.

Live slowly

Learn to live more slowly. Avoid being too busy; there are only 24 hours in a day. Organize yourself and prioritize the tasks that are truly important. Delegate to other people, avoid accumulating work, and don’t take on responsibilities that should fall to other people.

Rest and engage in activities you enjoy

Dedicate sufficient time to rest and get sufficient hours of sleep. The human body needs to recuperate its energy each day. Rest is necessary to give our minds a break.

Our mood is the result of the balance between the negative aspects we face throughout the day — preoccupations, obligations — and the activities that we enjoy: taking a walk, talking with friends, painting, doing crafts. Engaging in activities that we enjoy isn’t just a whim; it’s a necessity. We all need to dedicate time to activities that make us feel good. Besides improving our mood, they help us to feel less anxiety, because they move our mental focus to something non-threatening.

Be physically active

Physical exercise helps to eliminate anxiety and favors muscle relaxation. Sports aren’t the only way to get exercise; we can do any activity that requires physical movement, such as walking, hiking, playing with children, planning activities, etc. Passivity foments anxiety.

Be careful what you eat

What we eat and how we eat it directly influences our mood. Eating a balanced and varied diet will improve both our physical health and our emotional well-being.

These tips can help improve our day-to-day quality of life, and thus can also improve the quality of our relationships, work, and social and family involvement. When we manage anxiety correctly, we begin to live our lives better and to give the best of ourselves to others.

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