With one in five people in the UK saying that they feel anxious all or a lot of the time, anxiety is now one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the country.
According to figures from a YouGov study, nearly a fifth of those who do suffer from anxiety don’t have a coping strategy. Although the condition can feel incredibly overwhelming and difficult to deal with, there are a number of methods of coping with anxiety which can help to alleviate the symptoms.
Identify what’s making you feel so anxious
AsapTHOUGHT is a YouTube channel which combines science with everyday issues. They recommend using the acronym HALT to help identify what might be making you feel so anxious.
Hungry – In recent years, the term ‘hanger’ has made its way into everyday vocabulary and with good reason. Many people become grumpy or short-tempered when they haven’t eaten for a while and this is because a lack of food causes the body’s blood glucose levels to drop.
The brain is dependent on glucose so if blood glucose levels fall far enough, the brain perceives this as a life-threatening situation and the person becomes pre-occupied with the idea of finding food. Lower glucose levels can also make it harder to concentrate or do simple tasks so if you’re feeling particularly anxious, identify whether or not it could be something as simple as hunger.
Angry – Feelings of anger can be incredibly overwhelming and therefore contribute to a potential anxiety attack.
Lonely – Being lonely can be a big trigger for anxiety because not only do people worry about their future, having too much time on their hands can lead to over-thinking situations and creating problems that don’t exist.
Tired – If a person’s feelings of anxiety are particularly bad, this could be down to a bad night’s sleep. Many people struggle to cope with minimal sleep and it can easily make you feel more irritable or emotional.
Learn to recognise what triggers feelings of anxiety or attacks and avoid them as much as possible. Know your limits as well – for example, if alcohol doesn’t agree with you, don’t drink it.
Try breathing techniques
Taking a deep breath is a well-known way of helping people to calm down. It’s not only useful for anger issues, it can also really help to relax you if you’re feeling anxious.
Try breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for seven and then breathing out for eight. This helps to calm and focus the mind and is also a great way to distract yourself from whatever is causing you to feel so bad.
Find a distraction
If you’re feeling anxious, do not allow yourself to sit there and dwell on why you feel so bad. The more you think about it, the more you will contort your problems, and you will end up feeling worse and worse.
Find a distraction and keep yourself busy. Whether it’s meeting up with friends, painting the house, going to the gym or throwing yourself into work, if you can stop yourself thinking about your anxiety you will feel much better.
If you really want to go the extra mile then distract yourself with a task that will help you to achieve something. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano or do a course in nutrition. Achieving this will help you to feel good about yourself and give you the confidence you need to beat anxiety.
A study carried out by the University of Leeds has proven that both aerobic and non-aerobic exercise can help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Whether it’s a brisk walk into town, a run around the local park or a spinning class at the gym, you can feel better after releasing some endorphins through exercise.
Mindfulness is a concept that has become very popular in recent years and it’s something that even a lot of companies are starting to teach their employees. It involves becoming aware of what’s happening around you and taking the necessary time to reflect on this. By learning to appreciate what you have and come to terms with what you can’t control, it can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety in a world that is so hectic and chaotic.
Look after yourself
People can often become so consumed with work, supporting their partner or looking after their kids that they forget to take care of themselves. If you can’t remember the last time you did something for yourself, take some time out to do something you enjoy. Whether it’s heading to the spa for the day, meeting friends for dinner or treating yourself to a new outfit, implementing self-care interventions into your regular routine plays an important role for those suffering with anxiety.
If you think that you or someone you know could be suffering with anxiety, please feel free to visit our Depression and Anxiety Treatment Programmes page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments that are available.