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Try these 12 effective anxiety coping skills

Prima (UK) logo Prima (UK) 18/02/2019 Navit Schechter
a person standing in front of a window: Manage your anxious feelings and overcome anxiety using our 12 Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques. © Stephen Lux - Getty Images Manage your anxious feelings and overcome anxiety using our 12 Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques.

If you're battling with anxiety and it's starting to take over your life, rest assured there are a number of ways to manage your anxious feelings using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques.

Qualified CBT therapist Navit Schechter recommends the following 12 tips for managing feelings of anxiety:

Young woman victim suffering from abuse, harassment, depression or heartbreak, sad desperate teenager having problems holding head in hands, heartbroken upset girl crying having dangerous addiction Young woman victim suffering from abuse, harassment, depression or heartbreak, sad desperate teenager having problems holding head in hands, heartbroken upset girl crying having dangerous addiction

1. Take time out

Most of us have very busy and full lives. Modern day living brings with it an abundance of pressures which we have to balance every day with little time to recover. Scheduling in 'time out' gives our bodies a chance to relax and our nervous system to calm down. Any activity that does not force us to over-stimulate our senses can help us to achieve this downtime eg spending time in nature, walking, reading, listening to music and/or having a bath.

Video: How to Tell the Difference Between a Panic Attack and an Anxiety Attack (Health.com)

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2. Get enough sleep

Alarm clock sleeping in bed Alarm clock sleeping in bed

When we are well rested we have more resources to deal with life's challenges including feeling anxious. It also gives our nervous system a chance to calm down and recover which helps us to feel less anxious.

3. Relaxation exercises

a man standing next to a woman: Serene woman meditating sitting in lotus position in meditation class © Hero Images - Getty Images Serene woman meditating sitting in lotus position in meditation class

Relaxation exercises can help to reduce the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. These work best when practised regularly, including when not feeling anxious.

Relaxation exercises include visualisation, eg imagining yourself in a calming environment or confidently dealing with upcoming situations and progressive muscle relaxation which involves tightening and releasing various muscle groups to help them to physically relax. Yoga, meditation and massage can also help the mind and body to relax and help you to manage symptoms of anxiety.

4. Breathing exercises

Young attractive woman doing breath therapy. Young attractive woman doing breath therapy.

When we are anxious our breathing becomes more rapid which creates an imbalance in the body of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This can send messages to the brain that there is a threat and can maintain feelings of anxiety.

By helping the body to breath more slowly, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels can rebalance bringing with it a feeling of calm. For example, breathe in through the nose for a count of 3, hold for a count of 4 and exhale through the mouth for a count of 5.

5. Take plenty of exercises

A group of women warming up outside together before going for a run through the city. © Copyright by Tom Werner A group of women warming up outside together before going for a run through the city.

If we are feeling chronically or frequently anxious our body will be producing large amounts of adrenaline which can lead us to feel anxious and send messages to the brain that there is something to fear. Exercise can help use up this adrenaline and also produces chemicals in the brain which positively alters mood and helps us to feel better about ourselves and our ability to deal with life's challenges.

6. Talk to a friend or someone you trust

a woman talking on a cell phone: Female friends talking while having coffee at sidewalk cafe © Cavan Images - Getty Images Female friends talking while having coffee at sidewalk cafe

Voicing worries and anxieties can be a huge relief. Sharing what you are feeling can help you to detach from your experience, see your problems from a new perspective. You might also find that others have experienced and dealt with similar issues. If you don't have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, you can call to speak to someone at helplines like the Samaritans.

7. Keep a journal

Close up woman hand writing on notebook Close up woman hand writing on notebook

If you do not want to talk to someone, writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can help. This can give us distance and sometimes a new perspective on what we are experiencing.

8. Be aware of your thoughts

beautiful woman think and write notes on paper working on a laptop freedom from office at home. alternative lifestyle and place to work on. Nice life daily scene beautiful woman think and write notes on paper working on a laptop freedom from office at home. alternative lifestyle and place to work on. Nice life daily scene

What we are thinking impacts on how we are feeling. If we are feeling frequent or constant anxiety and are not in a dangerous situation, it is likely that this is arising as a result of biased and inaccurate thoughts. Focusing on the facts of the situation rather than our predictions or how we feel can help us to moderate the anxiety that we are feeling.

9. Face your fears

a woman standing in front of a body of water: Pensive female farmer looking away on farm at sunset © Hero Images - Getty Images Pensive female farmer looking away on farm at sunset

We often avoid the things that we fear. Although this helps us feel relief from anxiety in the short-term the anxiety we feel often returns next time we face the same situation. If we can face our fears, we will have the opportunity to see whether our worst case predications actually happen or not. This can be freeing and liberating and improve our confidence in ourselves and ability to cope.

10. Focus on the present

© Copyright Tim Robberts

Anxiety is usually a result of anxious predictions or worry about something that could happen in the future. When we focus on the present moment and what is happening in the 'here and now' we are able to experience what is actually happening to us and not what 'could' happen in the future and this can help us to feel less anxious.

11. Eat regular balanced meals

Fresh vegetables healthy food concept Fresh vegetables healthy food concept

Eating regularly and healthily can help to keep our blood sugar levels balanced which helps to keep our mood stable.

12. Be mindful of caffeine, sugar and alcohol

Iced caramel latte coffee in a tall glass with syrup and whipped cream Iced caramel latte coffee in a tall glass with syrup and whipped cream

Caffeine, sugar and alcohol can all impact on the body and increase feelings of anxiety in the long-term. Although they may feel like they give us a boost in the short-term, moderating the amount of caffeine, sugar and alcohol that you consume can help you to feel less anxious over time.

We can all experience anxiety and feelings of fear from time to time and some or all of these strategies might help you to manage them. However, if these become severe and long-lasting or seem out of proportion to the situation and taking over your life then it might be worth seeking a short course of therapy.

Mental health support

If you are feeling anxious or depressed and you need some support, try one of the following resources:

✔️ Anxiety UK: a charity which specifies in helping those suffering from anxiety.

✔️ The Samaritans: a charity providing support to anyone in emotional distress.

✔️ Mind: a charity that makes sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone.

✔️ CALM: helping to reduce stigma and reduce rates of male suicide.

💟 Navit Schechter is a qualified CBT Therapist with over 10 years experience working with people with common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Navit has a private practice in Cornwall and offers Skype appointments for those who live further afield. 

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