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Manage Your Anxiety With These 12 Useful Tips

Manage Your Anxiety With These 12 Useful Tips

It has been estimated that over 40 million adults in the United States (almost 18% of the population) deals with anxiety, making it the most common mental illness in the U.S. Anxiety disorders also cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by ADAA (The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60(7), July 1999)

Anxiety can impact anyone, regardless of income, education, social standing, ethnicity, where they were born, or how they were raised. Many people suffer in silence and, worse of all, many people are ashamed to admit to others that they struggle for fear that they will be judged, or viewed as unstable. This is a tragedy.

I know that there isn’t a universal solution to this problem, and that simple tips alone may not be sufficient to effectively deal with the problem. In many cases professional counseling is also needed. I also know that a “band-aid” approach isn’t realistic, especially in severe cases. However, I still hope these tips on managing anxiety work for someone, in the same way that they have worked for me.

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1. Watch for your triggers

If you know what your triggers are, then you can effectively plan around them. Plan periods of exercise (step 3) or time-outs (step 4) around the times that you know your anxiety is likely to be triggered or peaked. Having cognition of the danger spots can also lessen the anxiety itself.

2. Talk to someone who will treat you with kindness and understanding

Don’t suffer in silence. There is someone out there that you can talk to. If you don’t have support in your home, church, community, or with friends, then look up support groups in your area. There are always resources available to you.

3. Start exercising

Exercise has so many benefits, and alleviating anxiety is one of them. If exercise is not currently a habit, then just start by getting outside and taking a walk each day.

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4. Take a “time-out” to breathe

Time alone to simply breathe is a highly effective strategy for calming our hearts and helping us to feel at peace. It also aids in our rational decision-making ability.

5. Have some fun and laugh

Spend time with funny people. Watch funny movies, or TV shows. Look up clips of stand-up acts on YouTube. Laughter is good for the soul (and great for the anxiety).

6. Understand that you are in control

This was a big one for me–the realization that I always had power over my life. Sometimes it didn’t feel that way. Sometimes I felt trapped in positions that I couldn’t get out of, but slowly I realized that I controlled each decision of every day. Sure there would be consequences, but they were of my making. I was the architect.

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7. Failure doesn’t reflect on your worth as an individual

Part of the reason I was ashamed of my anxiety was that it was a signal, to some people, that I was failing, and I didn’t belief that failure was acceptable. This belief was at the foundation of my anxiety to begin with, and when I torched this belief, replacing it with an empowering view of failure–that it was simply education–then I started to get control of my internal self. Failure wasn’t terminal. It wasn’t something that couldn’t be corrected, and most importantly it was not a reflection of my self worth. Failure was simply feedback in this grand experiment of life. Adopting that belief system has had a tremendously positive impact on easing my anxiety.

8. Surround yourself with happy and inspiring people

The more I was around people, and ideas, that inspired me, the more my outlook started to brighten. The other side of this tip is to remove the people in your life that make you anxious. This was equally important to learning to manage my anxiety and can help you manage yours.

9. Take daily action on a goal that is personally meaningful

For me, a large part of my anxiety was feeling like my life was out of my control. A way to take back control was to work, every single day for at least an hour, on a personal goal that was uniquely meaningful to me. By working on the goal I felt that I had control over a small portion of my life. This made me feel good, and it helped me to manage any anxiety I continually felt.

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10. Make a change

Sometimes, no matter how many tips you employ, it’s not enough. In these cases a change in environment is necessary, and this may also require a change in jobs or careers. That is why tip number seven is so important–as you make the change (if required) you don’t get bogged down in feelings of anxiety inducing failure. Failure doesn’t exist, there is only feedback. So if you have to make a change, look at it as a new beginning rather than a failure.

11. Get enough sleep

Sleep is something that you can control, and making sure that you get enough of it is a very important step to managing your anxiety. Here is a quick tip to getting enough sleep: turn off all electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to sleep. This will help to relax you, and will also increase the restfulness of your sleep.

12. Get involved

Volunteering, or otherwise getting involved in your community, helps to build your support network, and it also helps you to focus on other people and their needs. As simple as this sounds, it can have a powerful effect on alleviating your anxiety.

More by this author

Ryan Clements

A lawyer turned marketing professional, entrepreneur and writer who writes about entrepreneurship, career and personal development.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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