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Coping with Anxiety

We all feel anxious sometimes, but for many people, anxiety controls their lives. But there are ways you can manage your anxiety wherever you are.

  • Count backwards from 100 by threes or fours. Don't get caught up in being right, just focus on the simple math.

  • Go for a brisk walk around the block. Focus on the movement of your muscles and relax each one in turn.

  • Take a bath or a warm shower and let your anxiety wash away. Use products with relaxing scents.

  • Play a sport you enjoy. Shoot some hoops or get out your tennis racket and give yourself permission to have fun.

  • Listen to your favourite soundtrack, musician or song. Close your eyes and sing along.

  • Read a book. An old favourite is a great option so if you tune out for a moment, you'll still know what is happening.

  • Get out your art supplies and draw or paint something. In class, doodle on the side of your notes.

  • If you're in school, talk to your teacher and tell them about your anxiety. If you need a break, ask to use the washroom to take a breather.

  • Watch a movie or TV show you love. Make some popcorn and relax with a friend or alone.

  • Try to be positive. Remember that you've felt anxious before and you've always made it through.

  • Play simple word games. Spell backwards, count the letters in a word or write everything in cursive with your mind.

  • Focus on your body, on the boundary of your skin, your clothes and whatever object is supporting you.

  • Listen to the sounds around you. Whether it's birds, traffic or people talking, focus on the sounds, not their meaning.

  • Imagine yourself as a rag doll and let your muscles go loose and limp. If parts of you tense up, remind yourself to relax.

  • Make a list of the things you've done towards your goals (especially small ones). You're farther along than you think.

  • Create a secret signal with your teacher to tell them you need a break. Have them give you an excuse to leave.

  • Give your anxiety a rank. Think about your anxiety in terms of how often it is intense rather than how often it happens.

  • Recite the alphabet while visualizing the letters and their shapes. Outline them if you need more time.

  • Make time for worrying for 30 minutes a day. Worry only during this time and try to put off fears until then.

  • Think about how others impact you. Who escalates the problem and who makes you feel better?

  • Be mindful by focusing on now. Don't get caught up in worrying about tomorrow if there's nothing you can do.

  • Take time out to meditate or practice yoga. Focus on the deliberate movement of your body and your breathing.

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. For many, anxiety can be provoked by these substances.

  • Try to laugh off your worries. Even if it doesn't fully work, the laughter may help you.

  • Identify your triggers. If test taking makes you anxious, see if there's anything you can do to minimize the stress.

  • Download an app (like Panic Attack Dude) to help you manage your anxiety no matter where you are.

  • Write down things that make you anxious. Your brain forgets easier if it knows those stresses are logged somewhere.

  • Don't Google your anxiety symptoms. Anxiety mimics many other diseases. It's much better to talk to a doctor.

  • Write on your palm using your fingertip. Focus on the sensation and use it to ground yourself.

  • Keep busy whenever possible. If you have too much time to think quietly, it can make your anxiety worse.

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