What is anxiety? Coping with Anxiety.

Anxiety is a word we use to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear, how do we start to deal with coping with anxiety.  Each and every one of us experience it in some shape or form, from being anxious over a test or interview, visiting the dentist, catching a flight.  For some these feelings of anxiousness take over everyday life.  Although the feeling of anxiousness is not a pleasant experience it is perfectly natural and is linked to our fight or flight response that we as humans have developed over our whole evolution.  When under threat the body release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, these hormones can, make you feel more alert, so you can act faster, make your heart beat faster to carry blood quickly to where it’s needed most.  Once the threat has passed the body releases other hormones to help you relax.

So when does Anxiety become an issue to our mental health and well-being?

Because worrying is a natural everyday occurrence it can be difficult to realise when it has become an issue for you, if your feelings of anxiety last a long time they can overwhelm you.

Examples could be:

You worry all the time about everyday things or even about things that may never happen.  You worry about worrying itself.

You may suffer physical and psychological reactions and panic attacks over your anxiety. The table below is from Mind UK.

Physical sensations:Psychological sensations:
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • tense muscles and headaches
  • pins and needles
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • faster breathing
  • sweating or hot flushes
  • a fast, thumping or irregular heart beat
  • raised blood pressure
  • difficulty sleeping
  • needing the toilet more frequently, or less frequently
  • churning in the pit of your stomach
  • experiencing panic attacks
  • feeling tense, nervous and on edge
  • having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst
  • feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
  • feeling like other people can see you’re anxious and are looking at you
  • feeling your mind is really busy with thoughts
  • dwelling on negative experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again (this is called rumination)
  • feeling restless and not being able to concentrate
  • feeling numb

Depending on the severity and kind of anxiety that you experience you maybe diagnosed with a specific anxiety disorder.

GAD — General Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, OCD — Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, PTSD.

Those are just the most commonly diagnosed Anxiety disorders.  For more information on specific disorders talk to your GP or visit MIND UK website.

Coping with Anxiety.

It is easy for someone who does not suffer with acute anxiety to say things such as “stop worrying” “calm Down” “oh its nothing”

The reality on the other hand is far from simple for the sufferer.

The following are a few self-help tools that have been researched and proven to help with worry and anxiousness.

Talk to someone:

As with any issue that you may have the first step is to talk about it, this does not have to mean your doctor or other professional, talk to someone you trust you never know they may have in the past experienced the exact same issue.

Breathing Exercises for coping with Anxiety:

As simple as it sounds following some simple breathing exercises really can help relieve the symptoms and bring back a calmness.

I’d just like to write a post thanking Ian for his help throughout me suffering with my anxiety, notably a time when I had a terrible panic attack whilst I was in his company and he helped me come out of it faster than I ever have before by showing me some tricks to calm myself down, something I have always struggled with. His presence and his advice really helped me in those moments. I’ve always suffered with anxiety in many forms, but particularly panic attacks and I couldn’t be more grateful for Ian’s help and advice.
One of the best ways to calm yourself down is to anchor yourself by directing your attention into the lower half of your body. Begin by focusing on your feet and how they feel inside your socks or shoes and against the ground. Expand your attention to include the sensations first in your lower legs and then in your upper legs – do they feel heavy or light? Warm or cool? Tingley or numb? Now include the sensations of your breathing, really relaxing as you breathe out. This is a great way of anchoring yourself and you can do it any time, with your eyes open or closed, while sitting or even while walking around. Anchor yourself. Then breathe.
 Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.  Bring your attention to your breathing.  Imagine that you have a balloon in your tummy. Every time you breathe in, the balloon inflates. Each time you breathe out, the balloon deflate. Notice the sensations in your abdomen as the balloon inflates and deflate. Your abdomen rising with the in-breath, and falling with the out-breath.  Thoughts will come into your mind, and that’s okay, because that’s just what the human mind does. Simply notice those thoughts, then bring your attention back to your breathing.  Likewise, you can notice sounds, physical feelings, and emotions, and again, just bring your attention back to your breathing.  You don’t have to follow those thoughts or feelings, don’t judge yourself for having them, or analyse them in any way. It’s okay for the thoughts to be there. Just notice those thoughts, and let them drift on by, bringing your attention back to your breathing.  Whenever you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention back to your breathing. It’s okay and natural for thoughts to enter into your awareness, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing.


Listen to Music for coping with anxiety.

The simple thing of listening to music that relaxes you or that you enjoy can calm you and help relieve the symptoms.  Create upbeat playlists for everyday things.

Physical Exercise for coping with anxiety.

The main thing with this one is to do something you enjoy not something you see as a chore as this will add more worry to your life, it could be anything from a walk to swimming, a bike ride with a friend.  You could even do some yoga in your living room if you can not get out.

Keeping a Diary.

Sometimes keeping a journal or diary of when you have your attacks can help identify triggers and common occurrences that lead up to your anxiety.  This can help to build coping mechanisms for the future and help create routines that overcome those triggers.  The below is from MIND UK

“I keep a photo diary of all the things I’ve managed to do! Makes me think “I can do this”. So when I go and sit in a café, or go for a walk, I take a pic to record that I’ve done it, and look back when I feel scared… it encourages me that maybe I can do something [again] if I’ve done it before.”

Eat and Drink Healthy for coping with anxiety.

Try to avoid stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, smoking.  Try to eat a healthy diet avoiding processed foods and getting the correct nutrients can help with:

Improving your diet can help give you:
  • positive feelings
  • clearer thinking
  • more energy
  • calmer moods


Alternative and Complimentary Therapies.

There are a number of therapies available as well as traditional medical therapies.

From Yoga, Meditation, Reflexology, Aromatherapy and herbal treatments, Hypnotherapy are all types of alternative therapies you could try.

There are also a lot of support groups for all kinds of Anxiety disorders.  As we have already said the first step is talking to someone.

The growth of talking therapies over the last few years is well documented and there is research and empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these from Mindful CBT to NLP, they are all tools to use and help to overcome your anxiety.

Take the first step and talk to someone.



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