How POPSUGAR Editors Cope With Anxiety — and How You Can, Too
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, and whether you have a clear diagnosis or not, anxiety can impact your daily life. While physical symptoms are all too real — increased heart rate, muscle tension, headaches, appetite changes, gastrointestinal issues, etc. — the internal effects like intrusive thoughts can send people into a spiral. I know because I've been there.
Fatema Jivanjee-Shakir, LMSW, therapist at Conason Psychological Services, tells POPSUGAR that it's "common for people to experience anxiety without meeting diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder," pointing to a 2014 systematic review that found twice as many people met the criteria for "subthreshold" generalized anxiety disorder than the full syndrome.
"When your anxiety gets in the way of you being able to be present in your life, it's a sign that it is becoming more severe and in need of professional support," Jivanjee-Shakir says, adding that you don't actually have to meet diagnosis criteria to find help. She continues on to note that people often "approach anxiety-provoking situations with avoidance, which further breeds anxiety and fear about the situation."
Instead, she explains, it's helpful to develop supportive coping skills for navigating these situations, especially pinpointing when each coping mechanism feels accessible for the type of anxiety experienced. For example, meditation might work when your anxiety is at a three out of 10, she says, but it may not be feasible if your anxiety is at a seven out of 10.
Psychologist Ashu Kapoor, PhD, agrees, telling POPSUGAR that she stresses the importance of healthy coping mechanisms over unhealthy ones. "Not all coping skills will work for all of my clients," she notes. However, "I say, if it works, use it."
Ahead, POPSUGAR editors reveal their top tips for coping with anxiety. Try some out for yourself the next time you're overwhelmed and anxious — you may be surprised at what aids you. And, of course, seek professional guidance if need be.