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8 Types of Activities to Include in Your Anxiety Plan

An anxiety plan is something you can create on your own or with a therapist as a type of mental health treatment plan. Such a plan can be as simple as anxiety-reducing ideas jotted down in a dedicated notebook or as complex as a detailed record of medications and their successes, notes you take when visiting with your doctor and/or therapist, the anxiety symptoms you experience and the circumstances in which you notice them, and any other detail about your anxiety and treatment of it that you find helpful.

For the purposes of this post, the concept of an anxiety plan will be simple and involve a record of activities that help you reduce your anxiety levels. Here's a look at eight types of activities to consider including in your own plan. 

How to Use an Anxiety Plan

Your anxiety plan will include any activity that you find helpful in reducing your anxiety. These activities can be both short- and long-term, quick ways to reduce anxiety when it spikes in a moment and things you practice regularly that are designed to gradually reduce total anxiety over time. 

Exactly how you use your plan is up to you. Some people like to make a small list of things to practice every day and then set aside a certain amount of time every day to work on them. For example, some find it soothing and motivating to start or end the day with a journal, writing about things for which they're grateful, progress they're making toward a goal, and other positive things that serve to override the negative, racing thoughts of anxiety. Others prefer to keep a running list of go-to activities they can consult when anxiety strikes. Many people use an anxiety plan both ways, keeping a list of activities to practice every day for anxiety maintenance and a list of short-term quick-fix activities for emergencies. 

8 Types of Activities for Your Anxiety Plan

Anxiety involves mind, body and spirit, so a helpful anxiety plan will include activities that address your whole self. Anxious thoughts and emotions affect our actions and level of life satisfaction. When you develop your go-to list of anxiety-reducing activities, think about mind, body, and spirit. 

Think, too, of your ultimate goals. Do you want to feel calm and serene? Is anxiety exhausting you and you want to find things that energize and motivate you? Does anxiety make you tense and sore and are you thus looking for ways to release and relax? Chances are, anxiety affects you in many different ways depending on the situation or the moment. Therefore, it can be extremely helpful to include a variety of categories in your list. Here are some examples:

  1. Intense physical activity--Indoor or out, vigorous exercise helps anxiety on a physiological level.
  2. Gentle movement that unites mind and body rhythmically--Activities like yoga or tai chi can be both soothing and stimulating.
  3. Music-related endeavors--Listening to music to induce a certain mood, playing instruments, or dancing can all help.
  4. Meditation--Spending time sitting in quiet concentration helps focus the mind on the breath and trains it to turn away from anxious thoughts.
  5. Mindfulness practices--Whether it's a mindful walk, attention focused on a task, focusing on the breath, or experiencing a moment with all your senses, mindfulness helps you turn your attention away from worries and problems.
  6. Creative endeavors--Immersing yourself in creative projects can help you find flow, a state of being in which you're fully experiencing an activity rather than getting caught up in anxiety and stress.
  7. Calming rituals and routines--Following a daily routine brings predictability that can go a long way in helping you feel in control and less anxious; further, pausing to enjoy a calm ritual every day like a morning cup of tea or play time with a pet can signal the brain to quiet down during these times.
  8. Opportunities to be spontaneous--If you tend to feel trapped in a rut, and it causes you to feel agitated and unsettled, work in times to do spontaneous activities. You can still keep a list of ideas to do (such as drive to a nearby hiking trail or try making a new recipe), but don't decide what to do until the time comes.

Including items in each category can give you a broad range of tools to use to stop anxiety. What you include in each will depend on your personality, interests, and needs. Feel free to experiment with what works best for you, and be gentle with yourself as you develop the most workable plan for yourself and your anxiety. The only rule is that there are no rules. The "right" anxiety plan is the one that is helpful and useful to you.

Tags: anxiety plan

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2020, August 6). 8 Types of Activities to Include in Your Anxiety Plan, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2020/8/8-types-of-activities-to-include-in-your-anxiety-plan



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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