How to manage your anxiety

Susannah Hickling

We’ve all dealt with anxiety at some point in our lives; here’s how to keep it in check…

Nausea, cold sweats, palpitations—anxiety has physical symptoms as well as the emotional discomfort. But there are ways you can cope:

 

Exercise

A brisk walk, run or yoga will all produce endorphins and reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, helping relieve those debilitating symptoms of anxiety. Try to get some exercise at least once a day.

 

Deep breathing

When you’re very anxious your breathing can become rapid and shallow, which in turn can make you feel dizzy and panicky. Inhale and exhale deeply a few times, focusing on your breath. This will then calm you down enough to practise 4-7-8 breathing: inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for a count of seven and then slowly breathe out for a count of eight.

 

Avoiding trigger foods

Digestive troubles go hand in hand with anxiety. Feeling sick and having diarrhoea are both common. It may help to avoid foods and drinks that could set you off, including caffeine, alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pastries and white rice.

 

Progressive muscle relaxation

This is much simpler than it sounds and, like many relaxation techniques, it works. Clench different parts of your body and then release the tension, starting at the feet and working up the body. This helps with increased heart rate and that sensation of breathlessness that often accompany anxiety.

 

Accept your feelings

Instead of telling yourself you shouldn’t be feeling this way and resisting it, accept your sensations without judging. That’s the first step towards dealing with them.

 

Distraction

Doing something else when your symptoms are getting the better of you can work wonders. Opt for a calming activity such as reading or listening to relaxing music.