Anxiety: Normalisation, symptoms, and coping skills

Anxiety is a natural and common human experience of stress or perceived threats. It’s a feeling of fear, unease, or worry that everyone sometimes experiences. Normalising anxiety involves recognising its prevalence and understanding that it’s a part of the human experience, not something to be ashamed of.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety can be described as an internal alarm system alerting us to stress or danger. It’s a basic human response mechanism from our fight, flight and freeze instinct. While it’s there to help us react to threats, the modern world often triggers this response in situations that aren’t life-threatening, leading to feelings of anxiety that may seem disproportionate to the actual event.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can manifest through various emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms. Emotionally, it can present as irritability or a sense of impending doom. Physically, individuals may experience restlessness, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, breathlessness, or shaking. Cognitively, anxiety can lead to difficulty concentrating or a low sex drive.

When does anxiety show up?

Anxiety often shows up during periods of change, uncertainty, or stress. It can be triggered by work pressures, including but not limited to financial worries, relationship issues, health concerns, or even seemingly minor daily hassles. For some, anxiety may not have a clear trigger and can be a constant presence, which might indicate an anxiety disorder.

Normalising anxiety

Normalising anxiety means accepting it as a part of life and understanding its purpose. It’s about reframing anxiety not as a flaw but as a signal from our minds and bodies about discomfort or uncertainty. By normalising it, we can learn to recognize when it’s serving us and not and develop strategies to cope or reframe it.

Coping skills for anxiety

There are several practical coping skills for managing anxiety and panic attacks:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation can help you sit with the discomfort of anxiety, teaching you that you can experience it without being overwhelmed.
  • Breathing exercises: Deep, focused breathing can manage immediate feelings of anxiety and help calm the mind and body.
  • Physical activity: Regular exercise reduces stress hormones and promotes endorphin production, improving mood and reducing anxiety.
  • Grounding techniques: Techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 method can help bring you back to the present moment during a panic attack.
  • Journaling: Keeping a diary can help you track your anxiety triggers and patterns, providing insight into managing them.
  • Peer support: Connecting with others who can understand what you’re going through can provide comfort and practical advice.
  • Professional help: If your anxiety begins to interfere with your daily routine, seeking help from a therapist can be beneficial.

Understanding anxiety, normalising it, recognising its symptoms, and knowing when it shows up are crucial steps in managing this common human experience. By employing practical coping skills, individuals can learn to live with anxiety in a way that doesn’t hinder their daily lives. It’s about accepting anxiety as a natural response, learning to coexist with it, and using tools to reduce its impact when necessary.

In essence, anxiety is not the enemy; it’s a part of who we are. By embracing it and understanding how to work with it, we can navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and resilience. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling anxious, and with the right strategies, you can find balance and peace amidst the chaos.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London E1 & E14
Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Specialising in Anxiety
London E1 & E14

David S. Pender is a qualified BACP therapist who provides counselling and psychotherapy services to adults throughout London & the UK. He has extensive experience in dealing with problems related to relationships, anxiety, trauma, social anxiety, panic attacks, generalised anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Free discovery calls

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