To cope with these feelings and sensations, you may feel tempted to start smoking or drinking too much, or misusing drugs. You may hold on to relationships that either encourage your anxious outlook or help you avoid situations you find distressing – and so stop you dealing with what’s worrying you.
How can I learn to manage my anxiety myself?
There are many things you can do to reduce your anxiety to a more manageable level. Taking action may make you feel more anxious at first. Even thinking about anxiety can make it worse. Therefore, a common – and natural – response to anxiety is to avoid what triggers your fear. For example, if you are afraid of spiders, running away every time you see one, is likely to increase your fear. Avoiding an exam because you feel anxious is likely to make you feel worse. Therefore facing up to anxiety, and how it makes you feel, can be the first step in breaking the cycle of fear and insecurity.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
- Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.
- Replace “negative self talk” with “coping self talk.”
- When you catch yourself thinking something negative like “I can’t do this, it’s just too stressful,” try to change it to something more positive, like “This is stressful, but I can get through it.” It can be helpful to think of “changing the tape” that runs through your mind. It is useful to make a list of the negative thoughts you often have and write a list of positive and more realistic thoughts to replace them.
- Practise deep abdominal breathing.
- This consists of breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, taking the air right down to you abdomen.
- Visualise the air travelling right down to your abdomen and say the word “relax” to yourself as you breathe in. Then breathe out slowly and gently through your mouth.
- As you breathe out visualise the stress and tension leaving your body with your breath and think the word “relax.”
- Let your muscles go floppy as you breathe out.
- Take three deep breaths at a time. If you breathe deeply for too long you may feel dizzy from the extra oxygen.
- You can repeat the three breaths after a short time of breathing normally.
- Look after your physical self:
- Eat healthily, get regular exercise and try to keep a regular sleep pattern.
- Reducing alcohol and nicotine as they can lead to more anxiety, not less
- Practicing relaxation techniques:
- When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
- Managing stress in your life:
- Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines and make a commitment to taking time out from study or work
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