Q: I have anxiety and recently it’s been worse. Between work, parenting, and the pandemic, I feel like I’m always stressed out. Everything is overwhelming, and I’m exhausted. What can I do to help with this?
A: It does sound like you’re juggling a lot and that can feel overwhelming. Everyone experiences anxiety in their lives, but different factors and situations can influence how often you feel anxious and how intense it feels. Learning to cope with difficult, stressful situations — whether they are short-lived or don’t have an obvious endpoint - is a great tool in being able to cope in healthy ways.
Here are some ways to approach anxiety when it shows up in your life.
Identify Your Warning Signs- when you feel anxious you might get racing thoughts and find them hard to stop. Knowing what started the racing can help you recognize when you need to take a step back or what kind of support you might need.
Prioritize Exercise- exercise helps support positive mental health by increasing endorphins which can improve mood and reduce stress. Go for a walk, get outside and move your body in a way that feels good to you. When you’re very anxious, this is often a valuable first step before trying the next two (breathing and mindfulness).
Take Some Deep Breaths - grounding exercises are a common technique used to reconnect the mind to the body and calm anxious thoughts. Practice deep breathing by breathing in through your nose for five seconds, then out through your nose for five seconds five times in a row.
Practice Mindfulness - awareness and mindfulness are great tools to help you regain some of that control and manage emotions. Activities like yoga and meditation can help with self-soothing.
Get Quality Sleep - sleep is your body’s time to unwind and recharge each day. Adding exercise into your day, building in time for a mental wind-down, and a brief mindfulness exercise can help you get to sleep faster and get better rest each night.
Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their lives, but it’s important to recognize if it’s becoming a problem. If you notice that your anxiety is starting to affect your relationships, work-life, or your health, talk with your doctor or mental health professional. By practicing compassion for yourself and others, you can learn to acknowledge your fears without getting stuck in them.
You are not alone. Reach out to Jefferson Center at 303-425-0300 to speak to a licensed professional counselor or to find resources in your area.
Heather Trish, NCC, LPC, has been a mental health practitioner for nearly 30 years. She is an expert in trauma treatment, treating anxiety and depression, suicide prevention, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in healthcare, and more. She is currently the Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion & Trauma-Informed Services at Jefferson Center for Mental Health.