Small steps to help with symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety, however it manifests itself, is a normal and expected part of life. Whether it’s brought on by stress, tiredness or an underlying disorder, people can experience anxiety over just about anything.

Whatever the cause, there are some simple steps you can take to manage anxious feelings and ensure they don’t exhaust you.

Take a deep breath
This might seem like the most obvious piece of advice, but when your heart is racing it can be easily forgotten. Stress triggers our fight-or-flight response and we begin to breathe rapidly from the upper part of our lungs only. That is why anxiety attacks are often associated with shortness of breath and dizziness. Try inhaling air deeply, first into your stomach and then into your chest. Hold for a count of four and exhale slowly. By repeating this breathing technique your body will soon get the air it needs and you’ll feel calmer.

Get a restful sleep
Easier said than done, we know. Give your body every opportunity to relax before bed, by switching off the TV and putting the phone away. Make time for just taking it easy – have a bath, read a book or sit down with a cup of herbal tea. If you find that bed is where your mind starts racing, try to write a few lines down on paper before turning off the light, to ensure your head is clear.

Address anxious thoughts
Our thoughts can often spiral out of control, leading us to the worst case scenario in a matter of seconds. Next time you find yourself thinking negatively, ask yourself, “Is this realistic?” or “How likely is this to actually happen?” Challenge your own mind and try to correct negative thoughts to make them easier to overcome.

Use your support network
Staying connected with friends and loved ones is extremely important to help you take control of stress or anxiety. Rather than bottling up what you’re feeling, make time for a phone call or catch up. Even if you don’t address the issue directly, engaging with someone can do the world of good.

Accept your anxiety
Stress and panic can seem overwhelming – giving you no time to sit back and get some perspective. It might seem like a step backwards to accept your anxious thoughts, but it can be a good strategy for controlling them. Be aware that any state of anxiety is temporary, observe it and let it pass.