12 Steps To Manage Anxiety

12 Steps To Manage Anxiety

For many of us anxiety is something we deal with on a daily basis and like with most challenges there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. We spoke to Doctor Clare Morrison, GP and Medical Advisor at Medexpress on the simple, everyday actions you can take…

Whether at high or low levels we all suffer from anxiety to some degree. Some of us manage it without even realising we’re doing so, while for others it can be overwhelming often affecting our daily lives and at times escalating into panic attacks. Here are 12 simple ways to tackle it.

1. Take Action

Anxiety is worse if you feel helpless. That's why it's important to take an active approach. Brooding on a problem, without taking action, will only make it worse. It doesn't matter how small the action is, simply doing something about the problem will instantly make you feel more positive. This could be something as simple as making a phone-call, devising a plan, or writing a note of apology to someone you've had an argument with. The point is, physically taking that first step to solving the problem, will make you feel more in control.

2. Take It One Day At A Time

Break your worries down into manageable steps. If you have money worries for example, work out a plan to sort things out, bit by bit. You're only human, and it may be impossible to solve everything at once. Concentrate on today's problems today, and leave tomorrow's problems for another time. Very often future problems sort themselves out without us having to do anything.

3. Positive Thinking

It's often our own negative thinking, and lack of faith in ourselves, that makes problems seem insurmountable. Tell yourself how capable and strong you are, and concentrate on previous achievements and successes.

4. Expand Your Comfort Zone

Push yourself just enough to build your experience and confidence in a challenging area, without making you feel terrified. The more you do something difficult, the less threatening it becomes, whether it’s driving, public speaking, or using a computer, for example. Remember practice makes perfect.

5. Know Your Limitations

Everyone is different, and we all have unique strengths and weaknesses. Just because someone else thrives on a stressful job, long hours, and a hectic social life, it doesn't mean that these things won't leave you exhausted and drained. Don't feel guilty about setting limits on demands made of you. It's better to be realistic about what you can comfortably do, rather than make yourself ill.

6. Relaxation Techniques

To relax your mind and body, develop strategies that make you feel calm. These may be listening to music, having a warm bath, aromatherapy, meditation, or yoga, for example. Once you find ‘your thing’ that makes you feel calm and relaxed, make time to 

7. Keep Busy

It's important to keep physically busy, with non-taxing manual tasks, that take your mind off your worries. These could be walking, sport, gardening, DIY, housework, or anything you enjoy.  

8. Write Things Down

Writing down our worries helps, partly because it makes you feel that you are tackling the problem, and also because it means you don't have to keep it in your head. This is particularly true at night, when anxiety keeps you awake. It's a way of telling your brain that this problem can wait until the morning.

9. Don't Be A Perfectionist

A lot of anxiety is caused by making decisions. So often we think that our happiness depends on making the right choices, when often it won't really make any difference in the long term. Ask yourself, "Does it really matter?". Often, we agonise about the details without appreciating the big picture.

10. Talk To A Friend

If you feel anxious, it will often help to talk to a supportive friend, who listens and cares about you. Saying the problem out loud will help you frame it, and your friend will be able to advise, and help put it into perspective. And don't forget to be a listening ear to them too. 

11. Be Outwardly Focused

Today's world is associated with a lot of introspective navel-gazing. With all the pressure of social media, telling us to lead the perfect life, sometimes it helps to look outside our immediate environment. Communities that focus on collective needs, where people serve their communities, rather than individuals, tend to be happier. Find someone who is worse off than yourself, and do what you can to help them.

12. Try CBT

Otherwise known as 'cognitive behavioural therapy' and offered by the NHS. This therapy addresses negative patterns of thinking and behaviour, in order to improve the way you feel. Mostly sessions are done over the phone, and your GP surgery will be able to refer you to a therapist. 

For more information and advice, contact medexpress.co

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