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Managing Anxiety

Everyone gets feelings of anxiety. We can feel nervous about an interview, or stressed about a project a work. We may feel worried about a loved one, or feel pressure to perform well in exams. The feelings we get when we are worried, or stressed make us feel anxious and on edge.

Anxiety feelings are a natural response to situations that we find useful. They usually pass once the situation has gone, but sometimes we can find ourselves trapped in ongoing feelings of anxiety for months or even years. This is when anxiety starts to negatively impact on our lives.

Symptoms of anxiety are:

Not being able to sleep

Feeling tearful

Wanting to avoid situations such as socialising/work

Having negative or constant worrying thoughts

Worrying about yourself or people dying

Heart racing or chest pains

Shortness of breathe

Panic attacks

Poor appetite or feeling nauseous

Managing Anxiety

Being able to manage anxiety in the long term means being able to take control over some of the thoughts and feelings that you are having. Stressful and worrying events aren't going to stop happening, and we will all find ourselves at times feeling anxious. However, if we feel we can gain control over the anxiety, and not let it rule us, then we will feel able to manage any difficult situation that happens to us.

Changing our thinking: One of the most difficult areas with anxiety is the thoughts we start having, which will become negative, over worrying and seeing the worst outcome for every situation. Changing our thinking so that it may become more balanced can help, although usually requires a conscious effort for some time for it to work. Counselling and CBT can be very helpful in learning to manage new ways to think more helpfully to reduce anxiety.

Relaxing: Usually when we are experiencing ongoing anxiety, we find it very difficult to relax. We may find that we can't focus on relaxing activities, or don't have the motivation to do something that will benefit us. We may also feel too busy or too stressed to relax, and want to spend all our free time trying to fix the problem that is making us anxious.

However, this is the time it is most important to build in time to have for ourselves, to do an activity that we find enjoyable and relaxing, and most importantly takes our full attention so we aren't able to ruminate on our worrying thoughts. Reading, DIY, puzzles, or gardening can all be great ways to relax our mind.


Exercise is a really important way to help us manage our symptoms of anxiety. As anxiety means we have the stress hormone of Cortisol running through our bodies, exercise is a way to release that hormone, and reduce our feelings of stress. Exercise also releases the feel good chemicals in our brain, so we get twice the benefit. You don't have to do anything strenuous, even a short walk can be beneficial to reducing our anxiety.

Eating Well

When we are anxious, we often end up craving junk foods, and find ourselves overeating. However, often the foods we eat during a period of stress or anxiety aren't good for our bodies, and can actually be adding to our anxiety. For example, sugary foods will heighten our blood sugar levels and insulin release, putting our bodies under more stress. Making some healthy choices about what we eat has been shown to have a positive impact on our mood, and can help to reduce anxiety.

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