May 23, 2024

The Anxiety Toolkit Part 2: 5 (More) Proven Strategies for Managing Anxiety in Daily Life

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Two friends walking down a sidewalk together. Representing how calling a friend can help you alleviate anxiety. Learn more coping strategies for anxiety by starting anxiety counseling in NYC, NY.

It’s 2 am, and you’re desperate for some shuteye, but your mind is racing with anxious thoughts. You keep replaying that awkward interaction with your coworker from earlier in the day, wondering whether the joke you said ultimately made you sound stupid or cool. Deciding you probably sounded foolish, your anxious mind pivots to your overflowing work inbox and the mile-long to-do list you have to tackle tomorrow. You then begin to mildly panic about feeling unprepared for your first meeting. No matter how many deep breaths you take, your worries and anxiety-laden thoughts continue to spiral.

If this kind of sleepless, anxious night sounds familiar, know that you’re not alone in your struggle. For young professionals navigating life in NYC, anxiety has become a near-universal experience, and it can start to take a toll. Anxious thoughts, along with symptoms of anxiety, can feel overwhelming and interfere with your ability to be productive, grounded, and happy. Anxiety tends to disrupt sleep, diminish self-esteem, negatively interfere with work performance, and strain relationships. Anxiety can also produce physical symptoms such as chest tightness, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, and shakiness.

Your natural instinct might be to try and power through your anxiety, but white-knuckling your way around a condition that is as pervasive and all-encompassing as anxiety is both unsustainable and counterproductive. You can’t operate at your best if you’re perpetually dysregulated, and mentally exhausted.

I’m here to remind you that you don’t have to “just deal with it.” There are small, consistent, simple strategies you can implement that provide real and lasting relief from anxiety symptoms. In this post, we’ll explore five effective strategies that you can add to your toolkit to regain control over your anxiety and achieve a sense of calm amidst the chaos.

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Strategy 1: Self-Care and Relaxation for Anxiety Management

I’m going to guess that you have a never-ending to-do list and that things like self-care likely get pushed right to the bottom. But here’s the truth: Living in denial of your need to recharge is like expecting your phone to keep functioning without ever plugging it in. At some point, it’ll run out of batteries and shut down. Running on empty is a guaranteed way to experience increased anxiety, overwhelm, and burnout.

I want to encourage you to shift your mindset from thinking about self-care as a self-indulgent “extra” to recognizing it as a necessity for your mental health. You can’t function optimally if you aren’t giving yourself the love and care that you need and deserve. Taking time to intentionally refill your cup is the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to prioritizing your mental well-being.

Incorporating self-care activities can work wonders toward reducing your symptoms of anxiety.

You can try to incorporate simple self-care rituals such as:

  • Recharging with deep-breathing exercises throughout the day
  • Listening to uplifting, positive podcasts to start your morning
  • Take a walk while listening to your favorite playlist
  • Planning regular phone/FaceTime dates with loved ones
  • Starting a gratitude journal
  • Trying something new that you’re excited about
  • Setting reminders to rest your eyes briefly and look away from your screen
  • Setting limits on how much time you spend each day on social media
  • Leaving your desk during the day, even if just for a few minutes, to clear your thoughts
  • Saying the occasional “no” to social commitments to give yourself much-needed downtime

If you need some extra help remembering to practice self-care for anxiety, try one of these suggestions:

  • Create a self-care checklist on your notes app listing simple go-to activities to turn to when you’re stressed (ex: call a friend, watch a comfort show, light a candle)
  • Schedule self-care mornings or evenings in advance on your calendar
  • Follow some anxiety/self-care affirmation accounts on social media to receive daily reminders in your feed

The idea here is to create small pockets of time for intentional self-care throughout your day, rather than chronically depriving yourself of what you most need to help manage your anxiety. Being consistent about taking care of yourself is an important way to cope with anxiety. Remember, too: when you prioritize your own well-being, you can show up as your best self not only for yourself but for all the other important people and priorities in your life.

Strategy 2: Deep-Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Symptoms

While we’re on the topic of self-care and relaxation for anxiety relief, let’s tackle deep breathing. As an anxiety therapist in NYC, I can tell you that routinely practicing deep breathing, or engaging in intentional breathing exercises, makes more of a difference for your anxiety than you might realize.

A woman sitting on a rock while looking at a city skyline. Anxiety therapy in NYC, NY can help you find different coping mechanisms for anxiety. Start working an anxiety therapist now.

You can practice deep breathing anywhere, anytime – while you’re sitting at your desk, waiting in line for your coffee, or lying in bed before you go to sleep. Make it a habit to take a few minutes each day to practice deep breathing, and you’ll start to notice a difference. Not only will it help ease your anxiety at the moment, but over time, it’ll also reduce your overall stress levels and help you feel more resilient and grounded.

Here are some deep breathing techniques that you can seamlessly add to your daily routine:

  • Box Breathing (4-4-4-4): Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat as many times as needed, but at the very least, I recommend repeating this five times per occasion.
  • Calm Breathing: Close your eyes and focus on nothing but your breath. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, filling your lungs and belly completely, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, releasing any tension or stress with each breath. Continue for several minutes, paying attention only to the feelings and sensations of your breath as it enters and exits your body.
  • Body Scan Breathing: Start by taking a few deep breaths to center yourself. Then, slowly scan your body from head to toe, noticing any areas of tension or discomfort. As you breathe deeply, imagine sending your breath to those areas, allowing them to relax and release tension with each exhale.
  • Visualized Breathing: Close your eyes and imagine a calming scene, such as a peaceful beach or a tranquil forest. As you inhale, visualize yourself breathing in the serenity of your chosen visual. With each exhale, imagine releasing all of your tension or stress, allowing yourself to become more relaxed and at ease.

The key to breathing exercises is to find what works best for you and practice it regularly. With time and practice, you’ll discover the power of deep breathing in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

Strategy 3: Mood-Boosting Nutrition

Believe it or not, one of the most effective tools for anxiety relief can be found in your kitchen or at the grocery store. Studies show an important link between diet and mental health. A balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is demonstrated to provide a strong foundation for mental wellness.

It makes sense that to optimize your mental health, you have to provide your body with the right fuel. When you’re running on empty, or “bad fuel,” it’s no different than leaving your mind and body defenseless against anxiety. While grabbing a green juice won’t magically melt your anxiety away, consistently fueling your body (and brain) with nutrient-dense foods will make you more resilient and less vulnerable to anxious spirals.

For busy New Yorkers who are already juggling endless obligations, prioritizing healthy eating can be easier said than done.

Here are some tips for how you can realistically incorporate healthier eating habits into your daily routine:

  • Meal prep: Spend some time on the weekend prepping versatile ingredients like roasted veggies, quinoa, chicken, or tofu to easily mix and match for healthy meals all week.
  • Snack smarter: Keep a stash of easy, healthy snacks at your desk or in your bag at work (fruit, nuts, nutrition bars).
  • Chef it up: To make healthy eating more exciting, try experimenting with new recipes, or inviting some friends over to cook together.
  • Take a break: For exceptionally busy periods, give yourself a break and use a healthy meal delivery service for pre-prepped, nutritionist-approved dishes.
  • Fuel up: No one is at their best when they’re hangry. Schedule set meal times during the workday so you don’t go too long without nourishing fuel.
  • Hydrate: Stay hydrated by keeping a reusable water bottle filled at your home/office at all times.
  • The key ingredient here (no pun intended) is to find a way to consistently prioritize fueling your mind and body with high-quality nutrients, even on your busiest, most stressful days. Small upgrades make a big difference!

Strategy 4: Lean into Social Support and Connection

The experience of feeling seen, heard, and accepted by the people in your life is a powerful medicine and helps to disrupt symptoms of anxiety. Whether it’s laughing with a family member on the phone that helps to relieve your tension, or loving reassurance from a friend after a stressful and discouraging day, there is immense comfort in feeling connected with others and being reminded that you’re not alone.

When you’re struggling with anxiety, it can be tempting to cancel plans and avoid interactions with others. While boundaries are important, and it’s perfectly okay to take time for yourself when you need it, isolating yourself for an extended period of time can actually increase your anxiety.

Meaningful social ties and a strong support system are crucial when you’re struggling with anxiety.

Here are some ways to nurture your connections, or develop new ones:

  • Quality Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins or weekly hangouts with your closest friends
  • Be Real: Open up about how you’re feeling, rather than default to, “I’m fine”
  • Ask & Listen: Be curious about how your friends and family are doing
  • Spontaneous Connection: Send random check-in or “thinking of you” texts to maintain long-distance connections
  • Plan Ahead: For people you don’t see on a regular basis, try planning monthly get-togethers (especially with long-distance friends!)
  • Celebrate Together: Mark the joyful milestones with friends (birthdays, promotions, engagements)
  • Resist the urge to isolate: Reach out to someone when you’re feeling anxious
  • Expand Your Circle: Join a book club, gym, or social group to connect with new people (or bond with a friend over shared interests)

Anxiety can feel exhausting, and it’s natural to desire a break from socializing. Anxiety can also convince you that you’re a burden to others, which isn’t true. When you can maintain closeness with those you love most, your mental health will benefit tremendously.

Strategy 5: Banish Anxiety with Social Media Boundaries

I’m going to take another guess and say that you probably spend a lot of time on social media. These days, who doesn’t? Social media might be good for some things, but your mental health isn’t one of them. There is substantial research demonstrating a link between social media use and anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

A phone resting on a journal. Representing how a social media break can help alleviate anxiety. Learn more about anxiety coping strategies in anxiety therapy in NYC, NY.

While a total social media detox might not be feasible or even realistic for you, taking intentional breaks and setting certain limits can be a great way to give yourself relief from anxiety. Here are some strategies for reducing anxiety triggers and creating healthier boundaries when it comes to social media use:

  • Watch the Clock: Set daily social media time limits with one of the many apps available to notify you when you’ve reached your daily limit
  • Cleanse Your Feed: Unfollow or mute any accounts that provoke unfavorable unhealthy comparisons or leave you feeling triggered in any way
  • Find Positivity: Curate your feed and follow accounts that promote self-acceptance and leave you feeling encouraged and inspired
  • Silence the Noise: Mute social media notifications so they don’t show up on your home screen
  • Limit Temptation: Remove social media apps from your home screen so you have to put in more effort to access them

Your challenge here is to develop mindful awareness about the way you engage with social media. Self-awareness and conscious pauses from social media are key to managing your anxiety successfully.

Creating Your Anxiety Toolkit

While managing anxiety can feel daunting at first, incorporating these strategies into your daily routine will allow you to reclaim control over your mental well-being. Prioritizing self-care, practicing mindful breathing, nurturing social connections, fueling your body with the right ingredients, and cultivating healthy boundaries with social media, will make a big difference towards improving your mental health and reducing your anxiety.

It’s important to take the time to thoughtfully consider your lifestyle, needs, and personal preferences because the best strategies are those that align with your preferences and values. If you’re struggling with burnout, I encourage you to focus on self-care and give yourself the rest you need to function at your best. If work causes you anxiety and you struggle to find spare time in your schedule, deep breathing exercises are a quick but effective way to reduce your anxiety, both in the moment and in the long term.

Lastly, a reminder about nutrition, support systems, and social media habits. Whether it’s packing yourself a healthy snack, having a quick check-in call with a friend, or giving yourself an hour of no-screen time before bed, there are plenty of ways to incorporate anxiety-reducing strategies into your day in ways that work for you.

Extra Tools: Therapy for Anxiety in NYC

For busy and high-achieving New Yorkers, anxiety can hit you from every direction. The constant grind of work, coupled with self-criticism and social pressure is like the perfect storm for generating anxiety. If your anxiety is impeding your ability to live a life that feels both satisfying and productive, I encourage you to consider professional support.

Therapy can provide you with a safe and supportive space to explore the root causes of your anxiety and develop coping strategies that work for you, all while working towards your healing and growth.

Find your anxiety toolkit in NYC Anxiety Therapy

At Gold Therapy NYC, our therapists are committed to helping New Yorkers better understand, manage, and ultimately overcome their anxiety. As anxiety therapists in NYC, NY, we recognize how overwhelming it is to navigate the challenges of city living while you’re grappling with the weight of anxiety every day. It’s overwhelming, but you don’t have to manage it alone. Harnessing knowledge, expertise, and a variety of evidence-based strategies, our anxiety therapists are here to support you in reclaiming control over your well-being so that you can thrive. Invest in yourself by starting therapy for anxiety today.

  1. Book a Consult with us.
  2. Learn more about our NYC therapy services.
  3. Build your own anxiety toolkit with all the essentials you need!

Other Services Our Anxiety Therapists Offer at Gold Therapy NYC:

You’re goal-oriented and want to learn more mindfulness tips that will help you better manage your anxiety, but you might be thinking about addressing other parts of yourself that hold you back from reaching your full potential. At Gold Therapy NYC, we offer a variety of therapy services to meet your specific needs. It’s our goal to help you feel more empowered and confident. We offer depression therapy, Communication & Boundaries counseling, Self Development & Esteem therapy, and more. Together, we can work towards creating a life that feels fulfilling and authentic to you. To learn more about our therapy services, visit our website. You deserve to have satisfying relationships built on trust and genuine understanding. Let us help you get there.