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Dealing with Anxiety: Strategies for Relief and Management

Anxiety, the world's most common mental disorder, can significantly impact your daily life. Recognizing its signs and strategies like the 3-3-3 rule can help manage symptoms.
Someone's hands curled in a gray knit sweater as they manage their anxiety

Anxiety is a mental health issue impacting millions of people globally. In fact, anxiety is the world’s most common mental disorder and affected over 301 million people globally, according to a 2023 World Health Organization (WHO) report.

Anxiety is often described as an intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations and can hinder your quality of life, according to WHO. By recognizing the signs and understanding how to potentially manage anxiety, you can take proactive steps toward improving your mental well-being.

Understanding and Recognizing Anxiety

Have you ever felt your heart racing during an unexpected moment of fear or your thoughts spiraling out of control? These are common signs of anxiety, WHO noted, as well as these distinctions:

  • A feeling of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Experiencing nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling irritable, tense or restless
  • Having heart palpitations
  • Sweating, trembling or shaking
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions

There are several strategies that you can use to try and help find some relief from your anxiety symptoms. 

Ryan Aldrich, a psychology adjunct instructor at SNHU“Ultimately, every person is different, so it’s important to keep in mind that no single technique works for everyone,” said Ryan Aldrich 21 '22G, an adjunct instructor of psychology programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), who also earned his MS in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at SNHU.

Aldrich is also a business consultant who focuses on human service employment transformation, employee trainings and leadership development. To stay current on research and trends in industrial-organizational psychology, Aldrich holds affiliate memberships with organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP).

According to Aldrich, having self-awareness of what grounds you is a great starting point when dealing with anxiety. One way to try to ground yourself is with the 3-3-3 rule.

What is the 3-3-3 Rule?

The 3-3-3 rule is a technique designed to help ground yourself during sudden surges of anxiety, Aldrich said. Here’s how the rule works:

  1. You name three objects you see around you
  2. You identify three sounds you can hear
  3. You move three parts of your body, such as your ankle, fingers and shoulders 

An icon of a person meditating with their hands up.“This method helps by pulling your attention away from distressing thoughts or sensations and redirecting it towards your environment, which can calm the mind and reduce the intensity of anxiety,” he said.

By engaging your senses and physical body, you bring your focus back to your immediate surroundings, attempting to prevent the anxiety from escalating. There are a few other ways you can try and address your anxiety, too, Aldrich said. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Meditation and other relaxing techniques
  • Medication
  • Regular exercise

“An individual may have their own preferences on how to address their anxiety, but in general, it’s a good practice to contact a mental health professional to help determine the best course of action based on individual traits,” he said.

What Helps with Constant Anxiety?

If you find yourself grappling with constant anxiety, you could try incorporating some new self-care habits into your daily routine.

“People dealing with anxiety have many practices to explore to help,” Aldrich said. A few examples of some things you can implement into your daily routine, according to him, include:

Another way you could potentially find some relief from anxiety symptoms is by practicing mindfulness.

“There are many apps available that help an individual focus on breathing and mindful thinking,” Aldrich said. “Depending on the specific situation, these can be used to maintain a grounded mindset, as well as to decrease heightened levels of anxiety as they occur.”

What Should You Do If Anxiety Is Affecting You at Work? 

A blue icon of a person working at a desk Anxiety can happen anywhere and anytime, and that includes while you’re at work.

“Work can be a significant trigger of anxiety,” Aldrich said. “Poor anxiety management can create a spiral of decreased work performance, which feeds further increased anxiety."

He said that one potential source of help for this is Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). These can include resources from support groups and maybe even some provided therapy sessions to help you manage anxiety.

“Contacting your human resources department with a confidential inquiry often makes the difference between suffering in silence and having access to resources," he said.

They may be able to help make accommodations for you to try to help with your anxiety symptoms and promote a healthy and successful work environment.

What Are Some Common Misunderstandings About Anxiety? 

An icon of two hands holding a heartWhen it comes to anxiety, there are some common misunderstandings about what dealing with symptoms really means.

According to Aldrich, one of the most prevalent misunderstandings about anxiety is about how someone will show symptoms in stereotypical fashions, like breathing heavily, visible panic attacks and sweating a lot.

“In reality, anxiety can show up in many physiological ways, including high blood pressure, gastrointestinal issues and other ‘invisible’ ways that may lead someone to assume a person is overreacting about an anxiety condition,” he said. This can be harmful and can cause feelings of anxiety to go invalidated.

Another common misunderstanding is that anxiety can be viewed as a sign of weakness.

“Millions of people suffer from forms of anxiety,” Aldrich said. “It is not a reflection of a person’s resilience, character or other individual trait. It could be said that people who handle anxiety have increased grit and resilience from learning to do so.”

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Nicholas Patterson ’22 is a writer and alumnus of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing. He is currently honing his craft further as he pursues an MFA in Creative Writing from SNHU. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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