Managing anxiety - 3 quick tips

This article will look at what anxiety is and three tips you can use quickly to help you manage how you feel and ground yourself.


What is anxiety?

The NHS defines anxiety as “a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.” Symptoms of anxiety may include feeling restless or worried, having trouble concentrating, feeling dizzy, heart palpitations, and not sleeping.

We will experience anxiety in our lives; when we have to go for a job interview or for a medical test, or when we have to make a phone call we don’t want to. Feeling anxious is normal and a part of life. However, sometimes our worries can take a constant presence in our life and we can find ourselves worrying about everything and anything! We can find ourselves ruminating about the thing we are worrying about and unable to turn the page and move on. This can be very restricting on our life and how much we enjoy things.

How can you manage your anxiety?

There are numerous lifestyle changes that you can make to help you manage your anxiety including:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Stopping smoking.
  • Cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Cutting down on the amount of caffeine you drink.
  • You might also want to try online courses or tools. The NHS has a library of resources on managing anxiety.

However, if you are in need of some quick interventions to stop your anxiety spiralling maybe try out one of these below. They act to ground you, short-circuit the anxiety and stop it from getting bigger.

1. Mindfulness exercise

When you are feeling like you are in an anxiety whirlpool try this out… Become aware of your surroundings and the following things:

  • 5 things you can see (your hands/the sky/flowers/the window/the light shade)
  • 4 things you can physically feel (the floor beneath your feet/the chair beneath your hands/the feel of your jeans)
  • 3 things you can hear (cars outside/birds singing/a phone ringing)
  • 2 things you can smell (someone cooking dinner/perfume)
  • 1 thing you can taste (the mint or your gum/coffee /fresh air)

There are lots of other mindfulness exercises you can do such as

  • Count all the blue things you can see.
  • Count all the circular things you can see.
  • Take 10 deep breaths.

2. Do the dishes

Or in fact, any cleaning or decluttering, whilst this might seem a strange suggestion, doing something manual, something with your hands is helpful. It encourages you to be mindful and in the present and you are “taking control of something that you can, but you’re also making your environment more soothing.” - Good Housekeeping Magazine - How Spring Cleaning Can Help Manage Stress, According to Psychologists.

3. Have an activity ready that will take your full attention

This could include:

  • Watch a funny video.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Make an origami bird – you don’t have to make an origami bird, it could be that you do something that you are not used to do that will require your attention.
  • Do a jigsaw/online or in real life.
  • Listen to music you love.
  • Dance
  • Or you could try listening to Marconi Union – 'Weightless'. This piece of music has been specifically engineered by sound therapists to soothe your nervous system, slow your heart rate and blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol. The research was done by Mindlab. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. You can find this piece of music for free on Youtube.

Alternatively, think about an activity that would work for you that you can have at the ready when you need it. When we are anxious it’s hard to think straight, so preparing and practising can help us respond when we are under stress.

However, sometimes doing things on your own can be hard. If you think that I could help, you can find out more about me on my profile. If you would like to make an appointment with me to explore if I would be the appropriate therapist for you, please get in touch.

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

Share this article with a friend
Birmingham, West Midlands, B9 4AA
Written by Paul Carter, (BACP Accredited)
Birmingham, West Midlands, B9 4AA

Paul is as a counsellor/psychotherapist, EMDR Practitioner and Clinical Supervisor. To find out more about Paul please visit his website.

Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Anxiety

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals