How to Cope with Anxiety

How to Cope with Anxiety

How to Cope with Anxiety

Unsurprisingly the past three years have seen anxiety levels rocket.  The onset and impact of Covid-19 with the resultant restrictions, lockdowns, redundancies, illness, and fatalities left most people more anxious and uncertain about the future.  Even the most resilient of individuals could not have failed to be impacted in some way by the pandemic.  However, aside from the impact of Covid-19, anxiety levels in the UK are still rising, fuelled by the cost of living crisis, high inflation and interest rates, war in Ukraine, the negative impacts of Brexit, industrial unrest, threat of job losses...the list goes on! 

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, with some of the most common symptoms being a churning stomach, heart palpitations, a dry mouth, and difficulty sleeping.   Constant worry and uncertainty affects people on both a physical and emotional level.  Your self-talk can often go round in circles and then in a downward spiral, as you ask yourself the same questions: ‘What happens if I lose my job?’ ‘How will we pay the new mortgage rates?’  

This circular over-thinking can be overwhelming and result in you becoming irritable, lacking motivation and energy, having dizzy spells, panic attacks, and feeling restless.  There are different types of anxiety and long-term sufferers need to continue to seek professional help in order to manage higher levels of anxiety associated with ongoing challenges and uncertainty. 

For those who are experiencing anxiety for the first time, it’s important to remember that you can control your thoughts to reduce the worry, become happier, which in turn can boost your immune system.  The key is to acknowledge your fears, learn and adopt techniques to combat your worry, and seek help if the situation worsens.  Here are 8 practical ways to cope better with anxiety:

1. Identify the Cause and Triggers:  Ask yourself what’s making you so anxious: is it your over-thinking, past memories, your behaviour, relationships or circumstances beyond your control, such as the cost of living crisis in the UK, or projected fears about the future?

2. Take controlDiscuss your fears with someone you trust or write down all the things you are anxious about and for each item ask yourself ‘Is this true?’  For example, ‘If I lose my job, I’ll lose my house.’  Write down all the options available to you in order to address your concerns, such as finding out if you are eligible for a mortgage holiday if the worst did happen.

3. Create an Action Plan:  to address each cause of your worry, whether that is detoxing a negative person from your life, who is constantly draining your time and energy and bringing down your mood, or strictly limiting time spent on social media or watching the news.

4. Prioritize your Self-care:  Create a work/life balance with a routine of exercise, fresh air, healthy eating, and reading helpful motivating books.  Try to limit your caffeine intake as it stimulates the fight/flight stress response and can aggravate feelings of anxiety.

5. Focus on being mindful and present:  Concentrate on the here and now and what is happening in the moment, learn or practice meditation and make a list of what you have to be grateful for.

6. Create a list of positive affirmations or personal mantras:  Say these out loud every morning or when you are feeling particularly anxious, for example ‘I can keep calm today’, ‘I will be able to run for 30 minutes.’ 'The situation will improve.'

7. Take up a new Hobby or Interest:  Distract yourself from your negative thoughts by getting creative, learning to cook, studying a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument, for example.

8. Be honest:  Tell your partner, family, GP or manager if you begin to feel extremely anxious, overwhelmed, and can’t cope.  Many companies have an Employee Assistance Programme where you can access free confidential advice from qualified Counsellors.  There are also many online resources. 

Lastly, remember the words of the late Dr Richard Carlson: ‘90% of what you worry about doesn’t happen.  You can’t do anything about the other 10%.’

'I couldn't face a potential return to working in the office again, but with the tools and techniques we've covered I feel in a much better place to cope with any stress and worry.  Thank you so much for all your help!'  Line Manager

About Jill Maidment

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