If you have an anxiety disorder, you’ll be no stranger to the sensations that come with anxiety kicking in. The anxious thoughts start, your heart is racing, you feel physically warmer and the only thing you want to do, if you’re anything like me, is run from the sensations back to safety and comfort.
However, according to one brain health expert, Dr Daniel Amen, trying to outrun anxiety isn’t the answer but there are things you can do to help yourself in these overwhelming situations and bring your body back to a resting state.
Helpful tips for managing anxiety symptoms
Never leave a situation because you’re anxious
According to the doctor, that urge to leave the situation and get back to comfort and safety when you’re anxious is one that you shouldn’t give in to. He states that when you do this, you’re letting the anxiety control you.
Do intentional breathing for a couple of minutes
Dr Amen says intentional breathing for two minutes, three times a day For this, you do what he calls the “15 second breathing exercise”. It’s eight breaths - four seconds breathing in, hold for a second and a half, and then eight seconds out. Repeat this eight times to get the full benefit.
Write down your feelings
The doctor said that whenever you feel sad, mad, nervous, or out of control, write down your feelings and what you’re thinking. Then, simply ask yourself if these thoughts are true. Address them directly.
He added that killing the Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) is “miraculous”.
What to do if you have persistent anxiety symptoms
If you’re struggling with persistent anxiety problems or find yourself having anxiety attacks, speak to your GP for advice and treatment on managing your symptoms. The NHS also recommends:
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to
- exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax
- find out how to get to sleep if you’re struggling to sleep
- eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website.
Help and support:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
- CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email email@example.com
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.