Steven Johnson, PhD

Tips for recognizing and managing anxiety

This article was written by Steven Johnson, PhD, LCSW, MSW, a psychiatrist with our Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Care Clinic.

Managing stressors and anxiety

Stressors come in all forms, and we constantly battle them in our daily lives. Anxiety is persistent and unlike stress, it may not go away after the stress-provoking situation is resolved. The first step in managing your anxiety is recognizing what triggers it.

Social media is a common stressor

Remember to take a break from social media and even the news or negative friends. Constantly exposing ourselves to negative information or comparing ourselves to unrealistic images or stories on social media may raise our stress to unhealthy levels. Remember that people are posting the best moments of their lives on social media and it is not an accurate representation of everyday life.

How can I reduce anxiety?

Practice the rule of “three good things.” Ask your spouse, friends or family to reflect with you at the end of every day on three good things that happened - large or small.

By practicing this, you will help decrease anxiety, counter depression and build emotional resilience.

  • Make this a ritual: practice saying three good things around the dinner table, or silently reflecting in a journal.

Practice self-care in 15- or 30-minute increments throughout the day.

We recommend:

  • Taking a walk
  • Calling a friend
  • Watching a funny show
  • Play a game
  • Do yoga
  • Reflect on your day in a journal
  • Practice mindfulness exercises - the Calm app and Headspace: Mindful Meditation help teach diaphragmatic breathing and other mindfulness techniques

Find something that you can look forward to every day.

Prioritize staying connected to family and friends. You need each other’s support.

Work on reframing your thinking to reduce negative thoughts and promote positive interpretations of day-to-day experiences. Giving something that you don’t have control over a lot of energy is just a way to ramp up your anxiety.

  1. Put things in perspective. 
  2. Practice being more intentional and less reactive.
  3. Don’t let your stressors get a reaction out of you.

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Psychiatry - Adult, Child, Adolescent
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