10 Practical Strategies I Use to Cope with Anxiety

I believe it is critical to know where your anchor is before the storm comes. Some days I wake up full of purpose and clarity. Other days, I wake feeling overwhelmed by things I can do, things I should do and things I don’t want to do. Here is a list (in no particular order) of 10 things I try to do when I’m tempted to give in to the paralysis that comes with fear and anxiety:

  1. I tell someone I trust. Often this is my husband and a few trusted girlfriends. These are people who know me, love me and support me through encouragement and copious “you got this” emojis. Also, this helps to break the heavy load of Shame that often accompanies Fear.
  2. I sit down and intentionally breathe to slow my racing heart and deepen my breaths. Sometimes I go outside to do this, believing that fresh air is good for my brain and body.
  3. I employ Mel Robbins‘s “5 second rule”. Simply counting backwards from 5 out loud can kick your logical brain into action and stop the other part of your brain from freaking out.
  4. I verbalize any excitement I feel about what’s on the other side of my To Do List. This is another Mel Robbins principal.
  5. I paint. Just anything. Sometimes it’s just colored shapes on paper. Sometimes it’s something more concrete. It helps me to see I’m creating something beautiful. It also gets my mind off of my self. Some of my favorite paintings were created during times of high anxiety.
  6. I pray. Often times this looks like me sitting in my chair with my dog on my lap and my coffee cup in hand telling God everything that currently plagues me. It’s a lot like whining but it’s also like getting stuff off my chest to Someone who loves me perfectly and has true power to help me. Also, sometimes when I say things out loud, I see it clearly and have a revelation that there really is no reason to be scared.
  7. I get something truthful into my brain. For me, this often comes through the Bible but sometimes I just beg a friend to pour truth into me. (The more I type this, the more I realize I might be a slightly needy friend!)
  8. I distract myself – sometimes with podcasts like this one and sometimes with YouTube tutorials like this one.
  9. I exercise (totally digging pilates right now), drink lots of water and try to eat well. This is legit, guys. These things help. Eating tons of stuff that feels good in the moment but sends me into a sugar crash later, does NOT help on days when I just want to lay in bed and do nothing all day.
  10. I do one thing. And, honestly, sometimes that’s just doing the dishes or just folding one load of laundry or sending one business-related email. Then I write it down on a piece of paper and cross it out. This is my way of showing myself that I’ve accomplished something.

Some days just one of these will get me past the fear. Other days, I do all 10 and still feel unfocused and fearful. The point is, I’m doing a much better job at being proactive against the fear, believing there is more for me and that I was created to impact the world around me.

What tools do you have for overcoming fear in your life?




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