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Coping with Anxiety by Yourself

Coping with Anxiety by Yourself
Supporting yourself with positive lifestyle changes 

 Learning to cope with your own anxiety can be difficult, but it can be done. Even those of us who have been trying to manage anxiety for years can find it overwhelming at times, so here is some information which you might find helpful.

What does anxiety look or feel like?

Anxiety can look and feel different to everyone, so it is important to recognise what anxiety might look or feel like for you. Some of the common ways that people feel anxiety are through the experience of:

Physical symptoms including tense muscles, shallow or fast breathing, racing heart and soreness in the chest, nausea, sweating and shaking

Psychological symptoms including worrying thoughts, the inability to be present, having distracting thoughts, inability to concentrate, restlessness

Behavioural symptoms such as avoiding situations that might make you feel worse


Change your lifestyle to reduce your vulnerability to anxiety

Prepare yourself to deal with anxiety by setting up your body and mind’s defences. There are many ways that you can practice preparation, even before anxiety might show itself. 

1. Limit your intake of alcohol and drugs (including caffeine and nicotine) as these are known to be habit forming, which means that if you’re without these substances, you will find dealing with anxiety a lot more difficult. Not to mention that consuming these aren’t good for optimal physical health anyway.

2. Practice your coping skills even when you aren’t in a crisis so that when you do need them, they can work more effectively. There are many different types of coping skills, and some may work for you and others may not. Some well-known examples of these are maintaining positive relationships, engaging in pleasurable activities (aim for at least once a day!), going for walks or writing (such as a journal, poetry or creative works).

3. Make sure your physical health is up to scratch, this might look like getting some exercise, having enough sleep, eating nourishing food and drinking plenty of water. Research has time and time again shown that there are links between physical and mental health. If you are struggling with one or more of these aspects, chatting to your friendly GP might set you back on track.

 

4. Make some time every day to practice meditation, even if you can only commit to 5 to 10 minutes per day. Practicing mindfulness meditation every day has been shown to improve many bodily functions, both mentally and physically. There are some freely available guided meditation apps (if you have a smart device) and videos on YouTube which are great if you’re just starting out.

5. Know the warning signs for when you experience anxiety as this can improve the chances of you being able to pick it up and implement some coping strategies at an earlier stage.  Picking up the cues of your anxiety will take some time, but putting in the effort will make it easier to know when to start giving yourself some space. This can prevent your anxiety from escalating.


What can I do to help myself when I’m feeling anxious right now?

Challenge your thoughts. Ask yourself reflective questions:

¨ Are these thoughts realistic?

¨ What are the chances of ______ happening? What are the likely outcomes?

¨ What is the evidence that this is true, or not true?

¨ What would I say to a friend who came to me with this situation?

Practice some mindfulness. Lots of people find using mindfulness can help ease their current anxiety. There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness, even if you have hundreds of anxious or distracting thoughts while you are trying to be mindful. It is very common to find mindfulness and mediation difficult. Some opportunities to practice mindfulness include making yourself some herbal (caffeine-free!) tea, or sipping on some water slowly, focusing on and counting the inhalation and exhalation of your breath (without trying to change it!), going for a shower or bath and focusing on how the water moves around the body or feels on the skin. The point of mindfulness is to pay attention to something on purpose, without judging or labelling it.

Talk to someone. Chat to someone about how you are feeling, in a non-judgemental, safe space. Talking to others about your anxiety opens the possibility of getting a new perspective, and may help you feel supported and may promote feelings of relief. There are telephone helpline resources with trained professionals who can talk you through your anxious episode and help you calm down.

Written by Celeste Tipple, ADAVIC Volunteer

 

For anxiety and depression support, call beyondblue on 1300 22 4636,
or if you’re under 25, call  Kids Helpline on 1800 78 99 78.

 

 

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