10 ways to cope with anxiety

Here are ten ways to cope with anxiety:

Back to basics – Having a healthy diet that provides us with vitamins and minerals (especially vitamin B complex, which protects the nervous system) and early nights to get good quality sleep. Drink plenty of water to be properly hydrated.

Get real – The fear of the fear can be worse than the actual anxiety. Because something awful has happened we can live in fear of it happening again, when in reality there is no foundation for that. Fear is a false expectation appearing real.

Take time out – If you feel overwhelmed with the physical or emotional effects of the anxiety or panic, take time out to calm down. It is impossible to think clearly when your heart is racing or your palms sweating. Take yourself away from the situation. For example, if in a meeting excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, or if driving park up safely. Get some fresh air, take some deep breaths or use a relaxation exercise.

Try visualisation – Find a safe, quiet place and close your eyes. Imagine that you are in a calm relaxing place, a sunny beach or favourite holiday destination, and allow the relaxing environment to help you to relax and feel calmer.

Embrace it – Each time you feel the anxiety coming on don’t fight it, but allow it to pass over you like a wave and it will pass more quickly. Trying to fight it or stop it pushes it down and it can come back tenfold. It is not helpful to bottle it up as it needs to be released.

Face the fear – Avoiding fears and anxiety only makes them worse. If you feel anxious or panicky then face the fear. For example, if you panicked getting in the lift, then get in the lift the next day and practise relaxing whilst standing in the lift.

What is the worst that can happen? – Many people when having a panic attack feel that they are going to die or are having a heart attack. It is unlikely that this will happen - just tell yourself it is anxiety or panic and face the fear.

Talk about your anxiety – Talking to someone who you think may understand and be supportive can help to lessen the burden of your anxiety. You may find other people have similar worries and anxieties to your own, and this helps us to feel more normal. We are all human after all and have the same worries and concerns.

Don’t expect perfection – Nothing in nature is perfect; both your feet are not the same size, as you probably have one foot longer or wider than the other. So why put such stress on yourself? Do the best you can and remind yourself that’s what you’re doing. Nobody’s life is perfect, not even the celebrities!

Reward yourself for your successes – Yes! Even if they are small ones such as making that phone call you have been dreading or removing that spider from the bath without screaming. Treat yourself to a meal out, book or cinema ticket or something else as a reward.

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