Recognizing and Managing Your Anxiety

January 4, 2011 Kate White

Sun Tzu endorses engaged avoidance:

According to The Art of War author, "winning without fighting" is a key principle for managing every confrontation. And when it comes to anxiety the hardest battles are with our selves.

I've tried really hard to avoid my anxiety but it's there anyway. No matter what I do, or where I go. Now, of course I still avoid it. But I do so strategically.

If I need to avoid it, that's fine. But if I'm avoiding because that seems easier than facing it, that's not great.

I know enough to know it's exactly what I don't want because it means waking up in fear, or dealing with just too many flashbacks, nightmares or compulsive behaviors.

I can't win every battle with the panic gremlins but I can plan ahead.

What sets off your anxiety, panic?

First: List all the anxiety triggers you can think of.

Anxiety is rarely for 'no reason' - there is almost always an explanation. A why, or a where. A how, or a who.

The more you know about that, the more you can recognize and control anxiety, the more 'normal' life can be for you. (I hate that word - normal - but since I've never met anyone who'd qualify I don't worry too much.)

Use these questions to help identify and analyze anxiety triggers:

  • Does the trigger remind me of something I've seen, an event, person or place?
  • Do I experience particular sensations in my body in response to the trigger?
  • What ideas or beliefs do you hold about the trigger?

For example, riding on public transport might make some people feel like they are in immediate danger. Ask yourself why you believe that.

  • Am I afraid something specific will happen as a result of this trigger?

If a specific mental idea or image comes to mind then that's something I'm afraid of because it seems possible. Even probable.

  • How realistically probable is it that that idea or image will become a reality?

For example, I'm afraid of flying so quite often I worry that the plane will fall out of the sky like a house in Munchkin Land. But this really isn't particularly likely. These are things it's good to be reminded of. Preferably before I freak out.

  • Am I afraid of the fear itself?

If so, you might want to look at ways to deal with anticipatory anxiety before you engage with specific anxieties, compulsions or concerns.

  • How am I protecting myself from the anxieties brought up by the trigger?

A lot of people find themselves struggling to find ways to cope with anxiety that feel protective but don't further interfere with managing anxiety. Obsessions, compulsions and self-medication may play a part in this.

  • Do you have a plan to deal with the trigger before it snowballs into a panic attack, or has other serious affects on your daily life?

If not, it would be good to talk to someone about ways to create a plan to deal with trigger/s. Also, put together a list of ways to cope and support yourself - make it trigger specific.

Don't treat anxiety with someone else's tools

Anxiety doesn't affect people equally so individualized anxiety treatment is essential.
The answers to these questions may not seem like much on their own but put together they can paint a pretty clear picture of the nature of your anxiety.


Your current mental and emotional state matters; The better you know where you're at, the easier it is to work with your anxiety, and defuse triggers before anxiety attacks.

APA Reference
White, K. (2011, January 4). Recognizing and Managing Your Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Kate White

April, 3 2014 at 10:25 pm

This is another one of those articles that I must read again and again. I practiced these type of questions before but I always seem to not really take the time to answer them fully and so my anxiety persists.

Mrs. Life
January, 18 2011 at 10:04 pm

Very helpful article you have here. It's also nice that you mentioned that the tips you elaborated here may or may not apply to everyone because it really is in the awareness and understanding that a person has about his/her anxiety attacks that can help him/her overcome them.

Dr Musli Ferati
January, 11 2011 at 1:46 am

The feeling of anxiety forms our subtle and perplexed emotional integrity. As like this it is unavoidable subjective experience. Alone then it damaged the functioning of anyone becomes psychiatric case, which seek psychiatric treatment. It goes without saying that only psychiatrist arrange for such undertaking. Otherwise, the repercussions of untreated anxiety will be oppressive for our health. However, the best approach in this direction remains the healthy lifestyle that should to lead everybody.

January, 7 2011 at 5:15 am

last winter was harh for me . i have started some relaxation. it helps me with anxiety. thanks for the information i'll start a list on what thinks give me alot of anxiety

January, 6 2011 at 6:15 am

These were helpful tips. My daughter suffers from panic attacks and I think this information will be helpful to her.
I also found the site to be helpful because it is written by someone who has a daily struggle with anxiety and he shares his story and what he has found helpful.

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