7 Ways to Manage Anxiety

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first, thank you for being so supportive, encouraging and receptive to my last post about how anxiety has been affecting my marriage. it was terrifying to put out there because it’s hard to be vulnerable, admit weakness and show that we are all mere mortals.

if you’ve been following along on my anxiety journey (by adding ‘journey’ i’m pretending it sounds more positive and maybe there will be snacks), i was on anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication since 15. a few years back, i decided i wanted to know how i felt without that in my system since i’d essentially grown up on it.

missed pieces of the journey? catch up with part 1, part 2, part 3 and this is part 4 below.

*let’s just make a quick note that i’m not your therapist or a doctor and this is simply coming from my personal experience and encourage you to seek what works for you. i will say that it’s not recommended to go off any medication without your doctor/therapist’s approval and support so don’t do it!

i still have some anti-anxiety medication i can take when it gets too overwhelming (though thinking about taking it gives me anxiety so i really don’t but it helps to know it’s there). i’ve been searching for ways to manage anxiety without medication but that isn’t to say it didn’t help in the past or that i might get on it again in the future.

ways to manage anxiety

a few weeks back i was having (decaf) coffee with my friend and blogger, emma. we started talking about anxiety and we shared what’s been working for us. i really love a piece she wrote about how we need to invest in our own well-being when it comes to services that will dramatically improve our lives (and she shares her insight into the mediation “headspace” i mention below!)

we cannot be at our full potential in our relationship, friendships, career or even life when we aren’t taking care of our own well-being first.

1) set your morning routine

  • part of my anxiety is the unknown and feeling out of control. i’ve implemented a fairly consistent morning routine for the past few months so it helps me know what to expect and now my day starts with slightly more ease because i already know what to do.
  • it starts by walking our dog by the water, making a warm and caffeine-free drink and going to sit in my favorite purple chair to meditate.

2) meditate 

  • i’ve never tried meditating before the end of last year but was willing to try just about anything because i needed a better handle on my anxiety. i started with the app on my phone called “headspace” (emma talks about this). the first 10 sessions are free and then of course they try to upsell you but you can listen to those 10 over and over. it does a good job getting you comfortable with how meditation works and takes the more practical side of things.
  • i’m currently in the midst of dr. deepak chopra & oprah’s free 21-meditation and have found these really helpful (i’ve completed 2 previously and today is the last day to join this one). these are a bit more cosmic and you’re left ‘alone’ for longer than headspace but they say really great things to start your day off right.
  • i’ve found that meditation does help calm my mind and make me more intentional throughout the day. sometimes the relief of a calm mind may last only minutes or seconds during/after meditation and sometimes longer. regardless, those few seconds are a few more than i would have had if i didn’t try my best at meditating.

3) talk to a professional

  • i cannot tell you how beneficial this has been for me over the years to talk to a professional about anxiety and coping strategies. i like to stick with social workers, since that’s my background, but you could also see a licensed counselor, therapist or psychologist too.
  • i wish there wasn’t such a stigma attached to it because it’s incredibly beneficial to have an unbiased and helpful person to hear your struggles and help you through them.

4) exercise

  • sure, who doesn’t want some buffer arms or stronger legs but exercise has a greater benefit to my mental health than physical.
  • i found on the days i work out, those endorphins that are created after i’ve gotten my heart rate up and pushed myself, help to elicit a more positive feeling about myself and the world around me. i deal with things better and can think more rationally.

5) decide to change your mindset

  • this one is hard for me but something clicked recently when i read “the four agreements.” the book talks about how we as individuals make certain agreements with ourselves and with the world. these agreements come from our socialization from our parents as well as the world around us. it’s up to us to decide what agreements we want to keep, what agreements to break and to finally agree to live by the ‘four agreements.’
  • for me, the hardest yet more powerful thing for my anxiety has been the decision to change it. because i’ve known anxiety since i can remember, it feels like it’s a part of me. i actually start feeling anxious when i don’t feel anxiety but know i “should” (true story…like if i’m suddenly not anxious on an airplane, that makes me anxious!) i am deciding that anxiety is no longer an ‘agreement’ i want to hold in my life.

6) be open and vulnerable about it

  • hence the blog post, talking to random people about anxiety, or simply being honest with myself. for many years i felt shame and embarrassment about anxiety having such a stronghold over my entire life. it would be unfair to tell you that i don’t feel that shame and embarrassment still, because i do, but when i’m open about my anxiety, it feels like it has slightly less of a hold over me.
  • it’s an exhausting job hiding your thoughts and feelings from those around you, especially when those thoughts and feelings aren’t so positive. everyone is struggling with something so it’s okay to talk about times when you don’t feel at your best.

7) start coloring…or find another activity 

  • not even kidding, i’ve picked up coloring again but this time with a bit of a flare to it. my father-in-law gave me this coloring book for grown-ups and it consists of gorgeous drawings of secret gardens, treasure hunts and lots of whimsical nature scenes. it helps me feel more at peace to spend 20 minutes coloring a page and seeing it transform by the end.
  • if this isn’t your thing, try another hobby or craft that isn’t too strenuous on your mind but allows it to be relaxed, yet occupied. this has given my anxiety a bit of an outlet without simply staring off into space.

one of my goals this year is to explore more about essential oils because i’ve heard those are helpful for anxiety too but cannot comment on them yet.

part of living the new wifestyle is first and foremost feeling empowered in who we are as women and wives. it’s important that we do what it takes so we are healthy and happy first with ourselves so we can give more of who we are to our family and the world.

please feel free share this with your spouse, friends, family or on your social network because you never know who may be struggling with anxiety.

ways to manage anxiety


  1. Melissa C

    March 20, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Very well said! These are all great tips! (let’s see if I can convince my husband to pick up a coloring book!) 🙂 lol. I completely agree about being open about it though. I’m here if you’d like to talk! 🙂
    Melissa C recently posted…I Just Have A Lot of Feelings, Okay?

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      ha you totally should just get it for him, melissa! i mean…if he doesn’t want to do it then you’ve scored a fun thing 🙂 thanks for being there for me and i hope your next week is better 🙂

  2. Sarah

    March 20, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Thank you for your openness. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable (I loved your mention of Brené Brown in the former post)! I wanted to share a couple strategies that I’ve really enjoyed as I reconnect to myself after a harsh time at work/potential burnout and getting fired.
    -Yoga nidra meditation: Yoga nidra is a sleep-based meditation technique that is similar to a guided meditation. You simply sit comfortably or lay down and listen. That’s it. Nothing to do. No performance or trying to figure it out. I’m currently practicing with Bold Tranquility, there are a few free meditation, frequent free online events, and a paid program.
    -Kundalini yoga: I’ve practiced yoga, mostly Hatha, on-and-off for over 10 years. When I found Kundalini yoga, I swooned. Movement and stillness, music and silence. I was also letting go of the performance aspect of holding postures or asanas (as a not so flexible person). I had a great teacher when I lived in Baltimore, but since I left I’ve practiced a bit with YogaGlo.
    -Journaling and expressing gratitude: for a number of weeks in the fall, I wrote down 5 gratitudes every day. In general, I’ve started journaling more/again to think of my intentions, gratitudes, goals, ideas, etc.

    I think it’s beautiful that you’re engaging in strategies that you enjoy and sharing them with others. I find it so inspiring to know what inspires and helps others. Thanks again!

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      thanks so much sarah for sharing your strategies too! i am definitely going to check out the “yoga nidra meditation” because that sounds like it could be really helpful and calming. i especially love that you’ve been journaling and expressing gratitude more too.

      i appreciate your thoughts and comments on this, sarah!

      • Julianne

        March 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        Hi, I also suffer from severe anxiety and i have also found yoga nidra meditation to be an excellent solution. There is a CD, in fact, called “Soothing the Spirit:Yoga Nidra for anxiety” which got me through some really dark days. Also, I would recommend checking out Elain Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when life overwhelms you. Anxiety sufferers will find much wisdom there, I promise you!

        • chelsea

          March 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

          i really appreciate your suggestion, julianne! i will be checking out both the book and the CD. always looking for more resources so thank you. glad to hear they have helped you so much!

  3. Audrey

    March 20, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Your list is as thorough and helpful as I hoped it’d be! 🙂
    I used coloring to cope while I was in college. I also enjoy scrapbooking because it’s something I can “complete” and it organizes my photographs.
    I’d love to start meditating- I find yoga classes to be helpful 🙂
    Thanks for opening up! You have a great support system but if you ever need to talk I’d love to 🙂
    Audrey recently posted…Louise: A to Z

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      i’m glad you found it helpful, audrey 🙂 ohhh scrapbooking! i totally got into that for a minute too because it can be very satisfying to see a ‘completed’ something like you said. join this oprah meditation challenge-they send them to your email and it’s freeee.

      i have such anxiety about going to group workout classes (go figure-ha) but i’m happy to hear that yoga has been helpful-yay! i appreciate your support and i’m here for you too 🙂

  4. Ashlen

    March 20, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I have a feeling this comment is going to be a long one….
    1) This post is amazing, and should be a must-read for anyone struggling with anxiety, whether or not they are using medication to help cope with their symptoms. I’m saying that as a health care professional and as someone who has been through everything that you’re describing. Medication can’t cure mental illness, it can only help manage some symptoms. Sometimes it’s necessary, sometimes it’s a preference. ALL of the stuff you mentioned is necessary.
    2) I HATE the stigma against mental illness. Glenn Close’s organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, put out a PSA about getting rid of the stigmas associated with mental illness not long after I was officially diagnosed, and…wow. It was so helpful in allowing me to be a bit more open about my struggle. Even so, I don’t talk about it a lot except to very close family and friends. I should, though. Posts like yours make others know that they’re not alone, and that is so comforting. So – maybe I need to take a leap of faith and start posting about it more often.
    3) You’re awesome. If you ever need someone to chat with, I’m here for you!
    Ashlen recently posted…Five on Friday

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      totally agree with you on all fronts, ashlen! as someone who’s education and background has pieces of mental health training to it, medication definitely helps but sure doesn’t cure-you’re totally right!

      i’m so glad to hear that “bring change 2 mind” came out at the perfect time for you too! the world wants to help us 🙂 it does feel SO much better to know we aren’t struggling alone, even if it’s not identical. in terms of sharing and being vulnerable, just by you commenting and being real right here has felt hugely vulnerable for you and i think that’s great! it may not always be through a blog post or shouting from the roof tops, but if we can be more authentic with ourselves and those around us, it can only help.

      if you do decide to write more about it publicly, know that i’m here to support you and i’m in your corner because you’re awesome too 🙂

  5. Erin @ Loved and Lived In

    March 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Hey Chelsea! I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your struggle with anxiety and ideas on how to manage it. Recently my anxiety has been hard to control and your post helped me realize I need to take back control over it. It keeps me from doing so many things and I hate it, like stopping blogging. I love your idea about coloring! I never thought of that, but I can see how it would help. Thanks again!
    Erin @ Loved and Lived In recently posted…Do Something Good For Yourself Today

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      hi erin! first, i’m sorry to hear that your anxiety has been hard to control but happy that you’re realizing that you deserve to get back in control again! that’s totally where i was at and it’s powerful once you decide you want to be in control.

      it’s kept me from doing a ton of things too but now i use it as a motivator because i hate missing out on life. it’s finally getting to the point where i hate missing things more than i hate anxiety.

      totally get the color book and we can compare color schemes 🙂
      chelsea recently posted…7 Ways to Manage Anxiety

  6. Monika

    March 20, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Great post! I feel like I can be an anxious person in general so all of these tips sound awesome and I may try some. Especially since I’ve read so much about meditation recently and I’m curious if it would help me or if it would just be awkward haha. ALSO. Coloring? Omg. Yes. Every time I see the huge box of Crayola crayons at Target I want it soooo badly. Now I have a reason (ish) 😀

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      yeah i’m pretty anxious in general too monika so i hope some of these ideas help you out and offer some relief! meditation can feel a little awkward at first for sure (at first i was constantly like “but i am doooooing this? am i doing it right?!”) but now i know it’s helping on some level, whether conscious or not 🙂

      you TOTALLY need to get the crayons, monika!

  7. shauna

    March 20, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your posts and being totally transparent and open so others can learn from you. So many of the things you highlight I’ve experienced in the past year and we JUST wrote a post on our blog about the benefits of coloring! So cool to see adults embracing an activity that was previously reserved for kids.

    I think it’s so great you’re encouraging more people to be open to talk about it. Because the truth is we all face anxiety and the worst feeling is thinking you’re alone. If we could all talk more about the things that are more common than we think, we’d know we aren’t alone.
    shauna recently posted…A New Way to De-Stress: Coloring Books for Adults

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      that is TOO crazy that you just wrote about destressing through coloring, shauna! that’s too amazing. can’t wait to read your post on it.

      i appreciate your comment because i totally agree that we are all feeling anxiety in some form so talking about normalizes it and it’s good to know we aren’t alone!

  8. Katherine

    March 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I’m new to your blog, and reading your last two anxiety posts have been an inspiration. I too struggle with anxiety. For all of high school and most of college I never spoke of it, I treated it as a dirty secret. I graduated from college and work with kids as social worker and quickly realized that I never judge their struggles, so I should stop being ashamed of mine. I too color to relax, I’ve been coloring manadals for years. You should check it out, the patterns and repetition relax me. I’m excited to try your coloring book!

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      thanks for stopping by the blog and for your comment, katherine! more importantly…SOCIAL WORKERS UNITE YAY!

      i’m sorry to hear that anxiety has been a struggle for you and i know that feeling all too well of keeping it as a dirty little secret. totally love what you said about we rarely judge our clients or friends, so we need to stop being ashamed of our own struggles. smart lady, you are 🙂

      definitely going to check out coloring manadals because i just did a quick google search and YES please.

  9. Christine

    March 20, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    This is such an important post. Great job. One thing that has helped my anxiety has been giving up caffeine…any time I drink something caffeinated now I can tell a significant difference.

    • chelsea

      March 20, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      thank you christine 🙂 you totally made me edit my post to include that i was drinking decaf coffee because i’ve also cut out caffeine for the past 5 years and it really does make a huge difference!

      the most i can handle is some black tea soooometimes and it’s crazy how you can feel it course through you, isn’t it??

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  11. Patrick T

    March 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Hey C – first time I’ve left a reply since I wasn’t sure if it was taboo to do so bc I’m not a woman :). I really liked this post. I appreciate your honesty and willingness to share with others to see others improve.
    One of the key underlying assumptions it’s taken me forever to practice and applied to #5 in particular is an acceptance that there are those things we can change, and those that we can’t. Choosing to take control of our mindset puts us back in control of hard situations we may feel a lack of control over. Doing so also challenges us to gain different perspective on our perceived problems.
    Just wanted to add my two cents and thanks again!

    • chelsea

      March 21, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      so glad you commented, patrick!!! not taboo at all- ha! 🙂

      absolutely love what you said about sorting out what we can change and what we can’t and then getting different perspectives on our issues. i think i’m still deeply in the process but it’s a place to start. appreciate you reading and for your thoughts!

  12. Lauren

    March 21, 2015 at 7:49 am

    This. Post. Is. Everything.

    I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was in high school – I agree with EVERY SINGLE ONE of these tips. I was put on anti anxiety meds, and did not like the way I felt with them at all. I decided they weren’t for me, and opted to find other ways to help me deal. I find that having a routine, exercising and EATING HEALTHY are great ways to help manage it. I’ve also been the type of person that works themselves up so easily, and right into an attack >_<

    You just have to find out what works for you to help get you out of the negative/nervous mindset, and keep up with it.

    This post is great – it will really help people!
    Lauren recently posted…Sundays are Craft Days

    • chelsea

      March 21, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      you are so right that eating healthy really contributes to how we feel of course physically but also mentally, lauren! i’m glad you found the other tips helpful and more importantly what ou said about people need to figure out what triggers us and then what we can do to get out of that mindset!

      thanks so much for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts, lauren 🙂

  13. Ashley Servis

    March 23, 2015 at 6:48 am

    I love this list. I am working hard to find a morning routine I love and can get into a habit! I feel yoga helps me a lot with stress and other emotions.
    Ashley Servis recently posted…March Date 2015

    • chelsea

      March 23, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      i’m happy to hear you’re working on a morning routine, ashley! it’s amazing how much it helps to start with things that center my day better. glad to hear yoga is helping you too!

  14. Rebecca

    March 23, 2015 at 9:10 am

    These are great tip! I have been considering talking to my doctor about getting off my anxiety meds because it has been so long that I’m not even sure what life would be like. I loved what you said about the contracts we make with ourselves. I do that a lot. I tell myself I have anxiety so I should be anxious. Why do I do that? I should program myself to say I don’t have anxiety. Or that it’s ok not to be anxious.
    Rebecca recently posted…Memories To Hold On To

    • chelsea

      March 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      it’s definitely worth exploring with your doctor and a therapist. it took me a while to wean off of them and it was really hard because i’d been so used to them so seeing a therapist on a consistent basis was super needed.

      it’s definitely a great read “the four agreements” if you haven’t read it before rebecca! it will do a much better job explaining the various contracts we have with ourselves and how to move through changing them!
      chelsea recently posted…Meghan Trainor’s New Video is NOT Actually a Win for Women or Marriage

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