Six Practical Steps to Manage Anxiety
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Graeme Orr MBACP(Accred), UKRCP Reg. Ind. Counsellor
15th January, 20140 Comments
Anxiety makes you on edge, worried and unable to relax and be at ease. You feel a constant need for re-assurance that things are, will be or have been alright. Coping with these feelings can consume your day and you may end up feeling like your anxiety controls you, rather than the other way round. Yet there are some practical steps that you can take to fight back.
- Emperor Napoleon tells us that 'an army marches on its stomach'. While we may know little of military strategy, what we can say with certainty is that your body needs to be nourished if it is to fight back against the stress and strain that anxiety places upon it. Not only do you need food, but also time and space to process feelings and thoughts to focus on you more than others. If you don’t and break down what will happen then?
- When facing anxiety we can feel overwhelmed and face a never ending sense of dread. Perhaps a party filled with a sea of faces that we have to interact with or a presentation we have to give or even just walking past next door’s dog. Yet in the midst of this anxiety remember that it has to come to an end. In an hour, in a week, in a year, in ten years, there is an end if you can hold out you will get there. Often people use a ‘time chunking’ method to combat anxiety. Say to yourself "I can’t think about getting through the whole night but I can get through the next five minutes", then re-assess the situation.
- Controlling your breathing is often suggested and is so often the joke (along with a paper bag) in TV sitcoms where anxiety and panic is concerned. Yet, bag aside controlling your breathing is one of the key tools at your disposal. However, learning what to do and practice will make it easier. You need to breathe slowly and deeply. So take a deep breath in, feel it fill your lungs fully then slowly exhale, the process should follow a nice relaxed gentle rhythm.
- Of course with any crisis it seems natural to look for support from quick fixes like alcohol, or a cigarette or even drugs. While these may help in the short term often in the longer term they make the situation worse, or produce their own problems so it is better to focus on other methods of coping.
- As with many things in life knowledge is power so it is important that you learn about the mechanisms that anxiety uses to affect you such as fight or flight, and why you feel you heart racing when you feel anxious. All of this knowledge can not only make you feel more secure, but also the tools that you have can be successfully used to control these signs and symptoms.
- We often hear of exercise being promoted as having a positive effect on our physical health, yet for years it has been known to have many benefits for our mental well being too. Exercise is not necessarily pumping iron down at the local gym but it can be a long walk in the park or playing football with your kids. The effect is to vent some of that pent up energy that stress and anxiety generates, it is also beneficial having time out to think through some of the things which are happening at the moment. Many people with anxiety choose Yoga because of the mix of gentle exercise and the relaxing elements of the discipline.
Understand that you are not alone, everyone suffers from anxiety and that many suffer from severe anxiety at some point in their lives which can be brought on by a variety of circumstance. Try to accept that you have the power to get past this and that there are things you can do.
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