Roller coasters, surprise parties, and tight deadlines — life is full of moments that can get your adrenaline pumping. But when that rush translates into anxiety, it’s time to pause, take a deep breath, and look at things from a new perspective. If anxiety has taken up residence in your life, you are not alone.
In fact, anxiety disorders affected 301 million people worldwide in 2019. In this article, we will share 15 ways for you to take control of your anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Let’s start by understanding what anxiety means. In simple terms, anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, or unease about an upcoming event or uncertain outcome. It’s a normal part of life and can be helpful in certain situations.
For example, feeling anxious before a job interview may motivate you to prepare and perform well. However, if these feelings become overwhelming and interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): GAD is excessive and persistent worry about everyday events and activities.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): A person with OCD experiences intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviours.
- Phobias: A phobia is an intense fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation.
- Panic disorder: Someone diagnosed with panic disorder experiences recurring, unexpected panic attacks.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD involves the development of anxiety after a traumatic event.
Why Do Some People Experience Anxiety?
Anxiety can happen for several reasons, but let’s talk about the most common factors that influence why some people experience more severe anxiety.
Certain genetic predispositions and imbalances in brain chemistry can make you more susceptible to anxiety. Studies have shown that specific genes may influence the risk of GAD.¹
Stressful life events, traumatic experiences, or ongoing everyday stressors can contribute to the onset of anxiety. These factors may include relationship difficulties, work pressure, or financial challenges.
Negative thought patterns, excessive worrying, and irrational beliefs can contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety. Learning to identify and address these cognitive patterns is essential.
What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, physically and emotionally. Common symptoms include:
- Avoidance of triggering situations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Excessive worrying or racing thoughts
- Feelings of dread or impending doom
- Muscle tension and aches
- Nausea or digestive issues
- Restlessness and irritability
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or restless sleep)
If these symptoms are affecting your daily life, seek professional help. Untreated anxiety can lead to chronic stress and may also increase the risk of developing other mental health conditions.
How is Anxiety Diagnosed?
A mental health professional will perform an assessment to determine if you have an anxiety disorder. This may involve discussing your symptoms, medical history, or any potential underlying causes of your anxiety. More medical tests may be necessary to rule out any physical conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
What are the Treatments for Anxiety?
Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable. The most effective anxiety treatment will depend on the type and severity of your symptoms. Traditional treatments for anxiety include:
- Talk therapy (psychotherapy): Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a commonly used form of anxiety therapy that helps you identify and change negative thought patterns or behaviours contributing to your anxiety. Research shows that CBT is an effective treatment for anxiety.²
- Medication: Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) when other treatments have not been effective. These medications help regulate brain chemistry and alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Beyond the traditional approach, there are also alternative treatments for anxiety, which include:
- Ketamine-assisted healing and therapy: Ketamine is an anaesthetic medication that treats various mental health conditions, including anxiety. It modulates glutamate receptors in the brain, leading to rapid mood improvement. Ketamine-assisted healing sessions provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms and help patients engage more effectively in therapy.
- Nutritional therapy: A growing body of evidence suggests a link between diet and mental health. Nutritional therapy focuses on optimising nutrient intake to support brain health and reduce anxiety symptoms. Incorporating foods rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and probiotics may have a positive impact on anxiety levels.
- Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy: This non-invasive procedure uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific areas of the brain associated with anxiety regulation. By targeting these regions, Deep TMS modulates neural activity and restores a more balanced brain function. Clinical studies confirm its effectiveness in reducing anxiety symptoms.³
Work closely with your doctor to find the best course of treatment for you. In some cases, a combination of different treatments may be most effective.
15 TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY
Now that we better understand what anxiety is, why it happens, and the various treatment options available, here are 15 tips for managing it.
1. Recognise the Signs of an Anxiety Attack
The first step is to recognise the signs. Symptoms may include:
- A sense of impending doom
- Chest tightness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
By identifying these signs, you can take proactive steps to manage the situation effectively.
2. Challenge Negative Thoughts
During an anxiety attack, negative thoughts and catastrophic scenarios may flood your mind. Challenge these thoughts by questioning their validity and replacing them with more realistic and positive statements. Remind yourself that anxiety is temporary and that you have the strength to overcome it.
3. Seek Support From Loved Ones
Reach out to trusted family members or friends during an anxiety attack. Sharing your experience with others can provide emotional support and reassurance. Having someone who understands and listens without judgment can make a big difference.
4. Practise Deep Breathing Techniques
Taking deep breaths helps calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety symptoms. Try taking slow, deep breaths using your diaphragm instead of shallow breaths from your chest.
5. Perform Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques help redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and into the present moment. Some effective grounding techniques include:
- The 5-4-3-2-1 method: Identify and name five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Starting from your toes, tense and relax each muscle group in your body, moving upward. This technique helps release physical tension associated with anxiety.
6. Remove Yourself From Triggering Situations
If possible, remove yourself from the environment or situation that is triggering your anxiety. Take this time to:
- Engage in a relaxing activity like painting or reading
- Listen to calming music
- Walk outside
Distractions can help break the cycle of anxious thoughts and give you time to calm down.
7. Get Professional Help
Don’t hesitate to seek professional support if necessary. A therapist or counsellor can provide personalised strategies and techniques to manage anxiety. They can also address any underlying issues contributing to it.
8. Find Ways to Laugh More
Laughter is truly the best medicine. It releases endorphins (natural mood boosters), which are natural mood boosters and can help reduce anxiety levels. Spend time with family and friends who make you laugh, watch a comedy show, or try laughing yoga.
9. Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Regular exercise can improve your mood, increase feelings of well-being, and reduce stress. Try to engage in 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.
10. Eat a Healthy Diet and Get Enough Sleep
Poor nutrition and not getting enough sleep can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety. Experts recommend sleeping seven to nine hours each night and follow a diet that includes whole greens, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
It might seem impossible to prioritise sleep and quality nutrition when you’re struggling with anxiety, but you don’t have to be perfect. Instead of overhauling your plate, see what whole-food options you can add – smoothies can be a great way to get in some leafy greens, fruits, and other vitamin-packed veggies. Sleep when you can, and don’t be afraid to embrace naps.
11. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness exercises help reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and increasing mental clarity. Take a few moments each day to practice mindfulness techniques, like meditation or yoga. According to a 2023 report, a randomised clinical trial compared a standardised, evidence-based mindfulness-based intervention with pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders. The results showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction was equally effective in reducing anxiety as the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro).⁴
12. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Alcohol and caffeine can worsen anxiety symptoms, so it’s best to limit or avoid them if you experience anxiety. Try switching to decaf or herbal teas and non-alcoholic beverages. A 2019 study confirmed a link between alcohol use and anxiety disorders.⁵ Similarly, a 2022 report on 10 studies examining the effects of caffeine found that consuming five cups of coffee induced panic attacks and increased anxiety among study participants.⁶
13. Avoid Procrastination
Putting things off can increase anxiety and make tasks seem more daunting. Break them into smaller, more manageable tasks, and tackle them one at a time.
14. Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
Setting realistic, achievable goals, can boost self-confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment, which can help reduce anxiety. It also helps you avoid overwhelming yourself with excessive pressure or perfectionism.
15. Learn More About Your Anxiety
Knowledge is power when it comes to managing anxiety. When you educate yourself about anxiety and its symptoms, causes, and treatment options, you can understand the nature of anxiety, develop a more grounded perspective, and reduce the fear associated with anxiety symptoms.
Don’t Forget These Tips To Benefit Your Overall Mental Health
- Set boundaries to protect your mental health, such as saying no to things that cause excessive stress or anxiety.
- Find a support group.
- Remember to be patient and kind to yourself.
Implement these tips to manage anxiety and improve your overall well-being. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, so find what works best for you.
Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if needed, and always prioritise your mental health. If you need assistance in navigating treatment options or wish to explore innovative therapies, contact All Points North at 0203 984 7699 or complete our online contact form. Our team of expert mental health professionals are here to help.
- Gottschalk MG, Domschke K. Genetics of generalised anxiety disorder and related traits. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jun;19(2):159-168. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.2/kdomschke. PMID: 28867940; PMCID: PMC5573560, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573560.
- Carpenter JK, Andrews LA, Witcraft SM, Powers MB, Smits JAJ, Hofmann SG. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials. Depress Anxiety. 2018 Jun;35(6):502-514. doi: 10.1002/da.22728. Epub 2018 Feb 16. PMID: 29451967; PMCID: PMC5992015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992015.
- Rodrigues PA, Zaninotto AL, Neville IS, Hayashi CY, Brunoni AR, Teixeira MJ, Paiva WS. Transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of anxiety disorder. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2019 Sep 23;15:2743-2761. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S201407. PMID: 31576130; PMCID: PMC6765211, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6765211.
- Hoge EA, Bui E, Mete M, Dutton MA, Baker AW, Simon NM. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders: A Randomised Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2023 Jan 1;80(1):13-21. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679. PMID: 36350591; PMCID: PMC9647561, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36350591.
- Anker JJ, Kushner MG. Co-Occurring Alcohol Use Disorder and Anxiety: Bridging Psychiatric, Psychological, and Neurobiological Perspectives. Alcohol Res. 2019 Dec 30;40(1):arcr.v40.1.03. doi: 10.35946/arcr.v40.1.03. PMID: 31886106; PMCID: PMC6927748, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6927748.
- Klevebrant L, Frick A. Effects of caffeine on anxiety and panic attacks in patients with panic disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2022 Jan-Feb;74:22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2021.11.005. Epub 2021 Dec 2. PMID: 34871964, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34871964.