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  • Writer's pictureLaryssa Levesque

5 Simple, Yet Effective Ways to Cope With Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of life that we have all experienced at one point or another. However, for people who suffer from chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder, anxiety can be problematic and start to interfere with their life. So whether you struggle with mild or severe forms of anxiety, learning how to manage your symptoms is key to living a happier, fuller life. Keep reading as we will explore 5 effective ways to cope with anxiety.

ways to cope with anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural response to feeling threatened. It affects us emotionally, mentally, and physically, and often leads to certain behaviours. When someone is anxious, they may feel overwhelmed or nervous, have negative thoughts like "I can't handle this" or "something terrible will happen", and their body may become tense and sweaty, making it difficult to breathe. Common reactions to anxiety include trying to escape the situation (such as leaving a party early) or avoiding it altogether. In addition, a person in an anxious state may appear tearful, withdrawn, or disconnected.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is rooted in fear, particularly fear of the unknown or uncertainty. Anything that seems scary or unfamiliar can trigger anxiety. When we perceive a threat, our brain and body respond by either fighting, fleeing, or freezing to cope with it. However, these responses can vary from person to person, so it's important not to compare or judge what makes someone anxious or how they behave when anxious. Doing so only perpetuates the stigma surrounding anxiety and mental health in general.

In today's world, there are countless things that can instill fear and lead to anxiety. For example, a first date can make someone anxious if they're worried about rejection or being judged. Similarly, moving to a new house can overwhelm someone with anxious thoughts like "Will everything go as planned?", "Will I get along with my neighbours?", or "What if I can't afford the mortgage?". Essentially, anything can trigger anxiety if it's perceived as a threat or if someone believes they won't be able to handle or overcome it.

Nonetheless, anxiety can serve as a helpful indicator that we need to approach something with caution and think more carefully. It allows us to focus our attention and take actions that will keep us safe. In this way, anxiety can be adaptive.

Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder?

You may be under the impression that anxiety is always a negative thing and something that needs to be resolved. Well, of course, nobody enjoys feeling anxious, but if it only occurs temporarily when you're dealing with stress and is not too severe, then it's likely not a big issue.

However, there are many individuals who struggle with anxiety disorders. In fact, it's estimated that more than 30% of people will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Whether or not you have an anxiety disorder can be explored by asking yourself a few important questions.

  • Is the anxiety out of proportion to the stressor/threat?

  • Does the anxiety persist even after the stressor/threat is gone?

  • Does the anxiety interfere with your life?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor or therapist about your anxiety levels. These signs indicate that your anxiety might be causing problems.

Another great option to manage your anxiety is to try psychotherapy approaches like CBT, ACT or mindfulness. If you want to learn more about identifying the signs and symptoms of anxiety and how to deal with it, check out this article.

5 Easy Ways To Cope With Anxiety

To effectively deal with anxiety, it's important to focus on four key aspects of our well-being: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. By taking care of these areas in our lives, we can promote a healthy body and mind, increasing our chances of being better able to manage anxiety.

  1. Limit Caffeine: We understand that life can be hectic and overwhelming, and sometimes all you need is a little boost from your go-to Starbucks drink to get through the afternoon. However, if you struggle with anxiety, consuming excessive caffeine can actually worsen your symptoms. Caffeine acts as a stimulant and can contribute to the various signs of anxiety that you may already be dealing with, such as a fast heartbeat, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing, feeling agitated, and being restless.

  2. Eat a Balanced Diet: Certain foods can actually worsen anxiety, such as processed and sugary foods, soda, coffee, alcohol, and refined carbs. However, we're not saying you should completely avoid these foods (because we all deserve a treat!), but it's a good idea to limit your intake of them. Instead, try incorporating other foods into your diet that have been shown to help with anxiety. For example, omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts/seeds, leafy greens that are high in magnesium, and foods that are packed with antioxidants like berries, broccoli, walnuts, kidney beans, and turmeric. It's also important to make sure you're eating enough throughout the day to fuel your body and prevent symptoms like headaches, fatigue, irritability, and brain fog, which can actually make your anxiety worse.

  3. Get Enough Sleep: The connection between sleep and anxiety works both ways. People with anxiety often struggle to sleep, while getting proper sleep can actually reduce anxiety. It's a challenging cycle to tackle, but adopting good sleep habits like sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding naps, creating a calming sleep environment, refraining from consuming alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime, and writing down your worries before bed can definitely make a difference.

  4. Exercise: I bet you've heard it before - exercising can really help with anxiety. And it's true! There are so many ways that exercise can benefit your mental health. It can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, while also boosting your confidence, energy levels, and mental clarity. Plus, it can even help you sleep better. Just 30 minutes of activity each day can lower stress hormones and help calm your body down. And the best part? You don't have to be a gym rat to reap the rewards. Whether it's yoga, walking, dancing, or biking, any kind of movement will do the trick.

  5. Set Boundaries: It's common for people who have difficulty setting boundaries in their work-life or with others to experience anxiety. It's important to make sure you're allowing yourself enough time each day to relax and recharge. By doing so, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and burdened by unrealistic expectations and responsibilities. Sometimes, you may need to rearrange your to-do list and start saying "no" to things that are too demanding. If you want to learn more about managing stress through setting boundaries, check out this article.

The Bottom Line

Anxiety isn't always a negative thing - it's a natural response that helps us stay vigilant and react to potential dangers around us. However, for individuals dealing with chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder, it's important to find ways to manage it effectively and prevent it from disrupting our daily lives. Dealing with anxiety doesn't have to be complicated. There are simple and practical strategies that can help alleviate anxiety by focusing on our overall well-being. Alongside these techniques, seeking guidance from a therapist or exploring medication options can also be beneficial in addressing anxiety.


Our team of online and in-person counsellors and psychotherapists in Barrie provide quality and effective mental health counselling services near you in Barrie and virtually across Ontario to individuals (6+), couples and families. We also offer an Affordable Therapy Program that provides counselling services in Barrie to individuals (12+) who are facing financial challenges that need mental health support.



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