Coping with Anxiety
Helping yourself to cope with Anxiety
While "a person cannot just simply decide not to be anxious anymore" (Anxiety Care UK), there are lots of positive steps you can take to help you cope. They might not all work for you but chances are you will be find one or two that make a real difference.
Talk about it
While it's not always easy talking about things that scare or worry you, taking the plunge and opening up to family, friends or someone who has had similar experiences to you can be helpful.
Teach yourself to relax
Learning relaxation techniques can help you feel calmer and be more aware of what's going on around you rather than the fear and worries rushing through your mind. There is a useful guide to using meditation to relax at http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/meditation-for-anxiety.aspx.
Mindfulness is one way to help you break these patterns of negative thinking.
Mindfulness practitioner Jim Rogers visited us recently to make a couple of short films about relaxation techniques.
Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, may help you combat stress and release tension. It also encourages your brain to release the chemical serotonin, which can improve your mood.
Examples of good aerobic exercises to try include:
- walking fast or jogging
- football or rugby
You should aim to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Moderate-intensity exercise should raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster. If you haven't exercised for a long time, it's a good idea to visit your GP first.
Facing your fear
Sometimes the things we're anxious about can't be avoided. This is especially true if you are anxious about a particular event such as an exam, speech or job interview. This is often a good thing as chances are, the reality of the situation won't be as bad as you are expecting. A positive outcome from something you've been worried about will make you better equipped to manage and reduce your anxiety about similar situations in the future.
Getting to know yourself better
Keep track of when you feel anxious, what happens and what has set off these feelings. By understanding what triggers your anxiety and what you can do to make yourself feel better, you will be more prepared to deal with every day situations.
A good balanced diet that includes all of the food groups is great for our general health and wellbeing. Read more about health eating and how it can affect the way you feel. If you do tend to feel anxious, it's a good idea to avoid having too much sugar or sugary treats. Very sweet foods cause an initial sugar "rush" followed by a sharp dip in blood sugar levels which can give you anxious feelings. Caffeine can also increase anxiety levels to it's best to try and avoid drinking too much tea, coffee and energy drinks.
Don't drink too much and try to avoid smoking
Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Only drinking alcohol in moderation or stopping smoking if you smoke may help reduce your anxiety. The Department of Health recommends that men should not drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women no more than two to three units.
Explore your spiritual or creative side
Being involved with other people or exploring creative activities are a good way of connecting with something bigger than yourself. If you are religious or spiritual, you can explore this as part of a church or other faith group. If you're not religious, there are lots of other ways to connect with other people, such as volunteering or joining groups.
Connecting with other people is one of the five evidence-based steps that we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing. Find out more about the five steps for mental wellbeing or watch the video below.
If you feel anxious all the time, for several weeks, or if it feels like your anxiety is taking over you life, then it's a good idea to ask for help. It may be hard to admit to having fears or worries that you think other people don't have but asking for help is a positive step and a sign of strength. Your first step is usually to see your GP who will be able to advise you on different treatments that are available or you can contact Humber NHS Foundation Trust on our Single Point of Access Self Referral line on 01482 335000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.