Effective Strategies for Managing Anxiety: A Therapist’s Guide

Anxiety can take many forms:

  • Intrusive, unhelpful thoughts
  • Irrational, fears
  • Excessive, worrying
  • Recurring feelings of dread or panic
  • Physical symptoms like body aches

Learn how to recognize anxiety and find ways to help manage it. Practicing healthy coping skills, such as relaxation techniques and defusion techniques (repeating anxious thoughts in a silly voice), can improve your ability to deal with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be helpful, as it teaches you to identify and change negative thought patterns.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation exercises like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can decrease stress. These can be used as part of an anxiety treatment plan alongside talk therapy. Practicing mindfulness, such as labeling your feelings, can also be helpful. For example, if you worry about giving a presentation, label it as a fear of public speaking. It helps your prefrontal cortex organize chaotic emotions and dampen their impact.

Talk With a Therapist

Therapists Seattle are on your side and can help you understand and manage your fears. They can teach you to challenge negative thoughts by weighing the evidence, analyzing unhelpful beliefs, testing the reality of pessimistic predictions, and replacing them with realistic statements.

They can also help you learn to cope with stress and anxiety in daily life by developing coping strategies that work for you. These may include visualization techniques, meditation, and yoga.


Exercise has several health benefits, including reducing anxiety. Studies show that people who exercise three or more times a week experience less anxiety than those who are inactive. Try a workout like swimming to release endorphins.

Take Medications as Directed

It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations when taking any medication. There are a variety of medications that can help with anxiety, and different types work best for each individual.

While some level of anxiety is average, it can turn unhealthy when it is excessive compared to the real threat. You can learn to tame it by building a comprehensive toolbox of strategies.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat well-balanced meals and try to avoid foods that trigger anxiety symptoms. 

Practice distraction techniques to detach from anxious thoughts. Distractions can include:

  • Focusing on an enjoyable activity.
  • Using visualization.
  • Practicing defusion techniques like repeating your anxious thoughts in a silly voice.

It can also include exposure therapy, which involves slowly exposing yourself to the feared object or situation.

Get Enough Sleep

William Shakespeare was right when he described sleep as the “balm of hurt minds.” Research shows that getting adequate rest helps reduce anxiety. Try to stick to a routine and get enough sleep.

It is also important to focus on what you can control rather than worrying about what might happen. For example, instead of stressing about health insurance premiums rising, you could spend that energy working toward a solution.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety by shifting your focus away from unhelpful thoughts and towards noticing the experience of your body. Mindfulness also helps you notice positive emotions like joy, which can help combat the negative bias that often accompanies anxiety.

Try this technique for anxiety to calm your nervous system: Pay close attention to how your breath feels as it passes through your chest and nose as you take deep breaths. Repeat this exercise until your anxiety begins to decrease.

Take a Break

Breaks can help you feel rested, productive, and attentive when you return to work. Physical activity and outdoor time are good ways to get a stress-relieving break. Try defusion techniques, which are thought exercises to change how you view your thoughts to gain distance from them. You can also practice meditation to reduce anxiety. Avoid avoidance, which can increase anxiety in the long run.

Avoid Triggers

A variety of things can trigger anxiety, from crowded spaces to caffeine or alcohol. Avoiding them can help prevent anxiety attacks. Personal triggers can include sights, sounds, smells, or places that remind you of a stressful or traumatic event.

Your mental health specialist can help you learn to identify these triggers and how to deal with them. Practicing exposure therapy can help you feel more comfortable in anxiety-inducing situations. It involves gradually facing feared triggers in safe and controlled ways.

Reframe Your Thoughts

Rather than focusing on what you cannot control, try to focus on things within your power to change. It can help you feel less overwhelmed and anxious. If you find that reframing isn’t helpful, don’t give up. It may take some time to practice. Don’t judge yourself for random or “bonkers” thoughts. Everyone has them. Just notice and let them pass by.



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