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Live Well: Calming Strategies to Manage Anxiety

May 10, 2024


Nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. experience anxiety, with most developing symptoms before the age of 20. The exact cause of anxiety is unknown, but experts believe there are both genetic and environmental components.

People experience anxiety differently, but the common thread is a persistent, excessive fear or panic in everyday situations.

Challenging life circumstances often precede anxiety.

Changing jobs, dealing with a health problem, moving, and being a caregiver are all common triggers. Symptoms of anxiety can range from feelings of restlessness to intense physical symptoms like nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath.

Learning how to manage anxiety can help reduce the intensity and frequency of your symptoms. Try these calming strategies the next time you feel anxious:

  • Phone a friend.
    Connect with a trusted friend or mentor who is a good listener. Sometimes venting your feelings and emotions is all you need to release intense emotions.
  • Avoid alcohol.
    Alcohol intensifies emotional responses and interrupts sleep quality, which can make anxiety worse.
  • Avoid caffeine.
    For some people, caffeine amplifies physical symptoms of anxiety, leading to increased heart rate and shortness of breath.
  • Prioritize restful sleep.
    Since physical and mental exhaustion can worsen anxiety symptoms, try to get at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night.
  • Try deep breathing exercises.
    Use deep breathing techniques, such as belly breathing, as soon as anxiety symptoms appear. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, which can help you feel calmer and more relaxed.
  • Keep a journal.
    Record details about your anxiety symptoms in a journal, and note the people, situations, or other factors that may have played a role. These clues can help you and your healthcare team predict when anxiety might occur in the future.

Equipped with the right self-care tools, you can learn to manage anxiety when symptoms first appear. However, if your attempts to self-manage are not effective, contact your healthcare provider or a mental health professional to discuss other treatment options. You can access up to three hours of counselling through your MFAP, TELUS Health.