How to deal with bad anxiety
Get help with anxiety, fear or panic
Most people feel anxious or scared sometimes, but if it's affecting your life there are things you can try that may help.
Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with anxiety, fear or panic.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and how you behave.
It's not always easy to recognise when anxiety is the reason you're feeling or acting differently.Physical symptoms
- faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
- feeling lightheaded and dizzy
- chest pains
- loss of appetite
- feeling hot
- feeling tense or nervous
- being unable to relax
- worrying about the past or future
- feeling tearful
- not being able to sleep
- difficulty concentrating
- fear of the worst happening
- intrusive traumatic memories
- obsessive thoughts
- not being able to enjoy your leisure time
- difficulty looking after yourself
- struggling to form or maintain relationships
- worried about trying new things
- avoiding places and situations that create anxiety
- compulsive behaviour, such as constantly checking things
Symptoms of a panic attack
If you experience sudden, intense anxiety and fear, it might be the symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms may include:
- a racing heartbeat
- feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded
- feeling that you're losing control
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
- a tingling in your fingers or lips
- feeling sick (nausea)
A panic attack usually lasts 5 to 30 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they're not dangerous and should not harm you.
If you're not sure how you feel, try our mood self-assessment.
Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic
try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: [email protected] if you need someone to talk to
use calming breathing exercises
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
listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
do not try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve
do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
do not avoid situations that make you anxious – try slowly building up time spent in worrying situations to gradually reduce anxiety
try not to tell yourself that you're alone; most people experience anxiety or fear at some point in their life
try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anxiety as these can all contribute to poor mental health
Audio: Anxiety control training
In this audio guide, a doctor explains how you can take control of anxiety.
Media last reviewed: 2 March 2021
Media review due: 2 March 2024
Further information and support
The mental health charity Mind offer more information on:
- self-care for anxiety
- understanding panic attacks
Your Mind Plan on the Every Mind Matters website sends personalised tips and advice to your email inbox.
Where to get NHS help for anxiety, fear and panic
Referring yourself for therapy
If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.
You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you're struggling to cope with anxiety, fear or panic
- things you're trying yourself are not helping
- you would prefer to get a referral from a GP
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:
- you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency
111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to 111.nhs.uk or call: 111.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
- you or someone you know needs immediate help
- you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose
A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.
Find your nearest A&E
Causes of anxiety, fear and panic
There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it's different for everyone.
When you're feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.
Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose – speak to a GP if you're worried about how you're feeling.
Identifying the cause
If you know what's causing anxiety, fear or panic, it might be easier to find ways to manage it.
Some examples of possible causes include:
- work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement
- family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone
- financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money
- health – illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement)
- difficult past experiences – bullying, abuse or neglect
Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.
Find out more about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing.
Conditions related to anxiety, fear and panic
|feelings of anxiety that will not go away, anxiety is affecting your life||generalised anxiety disorder|
|overwhelming fear of something specific like an object, place or animal||phobias|
|regularly experiencing panic attacks||panic disorder|
|often reliving traumatic past experiences, nightmares and flashbacks||post-traumatic stress disorder|
11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder
Speaking of Health
Topics in this Post
- Behavioral Health
- Balance your mental and emotional health
Having occasional feelings of anxiety is a normal part of life, but people with anxiety disorders experience frequent and excessive anxiety, fear, terror and panic in everyday situations. These feelings are unhealthy if they affect your quality of life and prevent you from functioning normally.
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling helpless
- A sense of impending panic, danger or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Obsessively thinking about the panic trigger
These feelings of anxiety and panic can interfere with daily activities and be difficult to control. They are out of proportion to the actual danger and can cause you to avoid places or situations.
You should see your health care provider if your anxiety is affecting your life and relationships. Your provider can help rule out any underlying physical health issue before seeing a mental health professional.
While most people with anxiety disorders need psychotherapy or medications to get anxiety under control, lifestyle changes and coping strategies also can make a difference.
Here are 11 tips for coping with an anxiety disorder:
- Keep physically active.
Develop a routine so that you're physically active most days of the week. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It can improve your mood and help you stay healthy. Start out slowly, and gradually increase the amount and intensity of your activities.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
These substances can cause or worsen anxiety. If you can't quit on your own, see your health care provider or find a support group to help you.
- Quit smoking, and cut back or quit drinking caffeinated beverages.
Nicotine and caffeine can worsen anxiety.
- Use stress management and relaxation techniques.
Visualization techniques, meditation and yoga are examples of relaxation techniques that can ease anxiety.
- Make sleep a priority.
Do what you can to make sure you're getting enough sleep to feel rested. If you aren't sleeping well, talk with your health care provider.
- Eat healthy foods.
A healthy diet that incorporates vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish may be linked to reduced anxiety, but more research is needed.
- Learn about your disorder.
Talk to your health care provider to find out what might be causing your specific condition and what treatments might be best for you. Involve your family and friends, and ask for their support.
- Stick to your treatment plan.
Take medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist gives. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking your medication.
- Identify triggers.
Learn what situations or actions cause you stress or increase your anxiety. Practice the strategies you developed with your mental health provider so you're ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations.
- Keep a journal.
Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what's causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
Don't let worries isolate you from loved ones or activities.
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may worsen over time if you don't seek help. See your health care provider or a mental health provider before your anxiety worsens. It's easier to treat if you get help early.
Learn more about anxiety management:
- 5, 4, 3, 2, 1: Countdown to make anxiety blast off
- 9 ways to tame anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Addressing your mental health by identifying the signs of anxiety and depression
Siri Kabrick is a nurse practitioner in Psychiatry & Psychology in Fairmont, Minnesota.
For the safety of our patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was either recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in a non-patient care area where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.
Topics in this Post
- Behavioral Health
- Balance your mental and emotional health
National Bullying Prevention Month: Educating children and ourselves
Self-care tips during the COVID-19 pandemic
Tips to help ease anxiety
How to cope with anxiety in a stressful situation?
How to cope with anxiety in a stressful situation?
Try to accept your feelings. Tell yourself that the emotions and feelings that you have today are normal. Now many people are experiencing similar emotions.
Follow the daily routine. Establish a clear regime of work and rest, do not overload yourself. Eat balanced and on schedule, even if you don't have an appetite. Performing simple actions will strengthen the body both physically and mentally.
Organize daily activities. Make a schedule for the day, structure your time. Take care of cleaning, cooking or laundry, if you have a favorite pastime - a hobby, devote time to it. If your work is a resource for you, use it. But the main thing - do not cross the line and do not recycle.
Control the precise execution of the assigned tasks. Challenge yourself daily and make decisions that will help you feel in control of your life. For example, determine what you will eat today, what you will wear to work or a walk, where exactly you will go. All the tasks that you set for yourself must be clearly performed.
Realize the possibility of freedom from information. Arrange yourself a fasting hour or day. Do not view information about events that may cause you anxiety or upset you. If your work is directly related to information, then learn to clearly separate personal and work moments. Be professional, but don't get emotional.
Keep a personal diary. Keep daily notes in it, in which you will reflect your experiences and allow your feelings to be, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. This will gradually reduce their emotional intensity.
Set the alarm time. Another way to regain control over your own life is to set aside a separate time for anxiety: once or twice a day - "alarm time". For example, every day, always at a fixed time from 19.00 to 19.30, you will think about what is bothering you. Throughout the day, note these thoughts, write them down, and set aside until a designated time to reflect. At the appointed hour, do not interfere with these thoughts, focus on them. It is also good if you keep a list of solutions to the problems that bother you. Once the time is up, stop. If you didn’t have time, but the time is over, don’t worry. Save the rest for the next day. If it doesn’t work out perfectly and the anxiety continues to arise, don’t be discouraged. The result will appear, but not immediately. Daily practices will improve your well-being, and gradually you will learn to manage your condition.
Do not try to drown out your feelings with drugs such as alcohol or drugs. Emotions and experiences will not go anywhere, you will only delay the reaction. There will be an accumulation effect, after which feelings will break out sooner or later. Remember that alcohol abuse destroys your body and psyche.
Communicate. The presence in life of a person who can listen and support is very important. Here you need to ask before the start of the conversation so that you are not interrupted and just listened, do not give advice and do not devalue your experiences. Explain that if you need advice or help finding a solution, you will ask for it yourself.
Fill your life with emotions and actions. Take care not only of your soul, but also of your body. Enter daily physical activity. If someone nearby needs support, and you are able to provide it, do not hesitate to offer help. Make time for the family, play with the kids, have a family dinner, or share a movie.
Learn to separate what is “ours” and what is “theirs”. It is important to distinguish what in what happened or is happening refers specifically to the events themselves, and what applies to you personally. If you delve too deeply into information that relates to the situation, then you risk losing touch with reality for a long time. Learn to clearly separate: there are people and families for whom you are now worried and for whom you are hurting, and there is your family, where everything is in order, everyone is alive and well.
Switch to positive thoughts and memories. Remember a moment in your life that gave you positive emotions, perhaps this is some kind of story that amused you at one time. Remember situations that will make you smile and help you switch for a while. If you feel physically hard, don't expect it to go away on its own. Your psyche and body are sounding the alarm and asking for help.
Be careful when making decisions. When under stress, do not make rash decisions that you may later regret. If a decision is brewing, give yourself time to think it over and weigh everything well, and only then act.
Call for help. If you find that you are no longer able to cope with your daily responsibilities at home, at work, you have a poor appetite or sleep problems, you should contact a specialist in a psychological service. Today there are psychologists who provide assistance free of charge. In addition to specialists, help and support in your environment is very important.
How to cope with anxiety: 7 ways to help ‹ GO Blog
Anxiety is an emotional state caused by the expectation of danger or threat. While fear is a basic human emotion associated with the instinct of self-preservation, and appears directly at the moment of danger.
The terms "fear" and "anxiety" are not synonymous, but they can be used interchangeably when it comes to situational anxiety (state at a given moment in time).
In the normal state, the self-preservation function prompts action, but there are also moments of apathy when anxiety intensifies.
We will tell you how to cope with anxiety on your own and determine its level in yourself.
Read more: "9 Proven Ways to Beat Procrastination"
How to Measure Anxiety
American psychologist Charles Spielberger studied more than 117 signs of human anxiety and created a scale to determine its level. His "assessment of the level of anxiety" is divided into situational and personal. Situational is responsible for the state at a given moment in time and the influence of external circumstances - for example, self-isolation. Personal - character of a person.
To determine "your level" of anxiety, you can take a test of 40 short questions.
What causes anxiety
The main factors that provoke increased anxiety in us are loneliness, problems at work, problems in relationships, health, environment and all sorts of conflicts.
Our way of life also has a great influence. For example, we are more likely to experience anxiety states if we are constantly on the phone or watching the news on TV. Digital progress has certainly made our life faster and better, but we pay for this comfort with an additional level of stress, new fears and complexes due to the large flow of news.
Try to minimize the number of hours spent on the Internet. Go outdoors, read, do yoga, cook, cross-stitch, build LEGOs – there are so many more options than you might think.
Stages of anxiety
– Waiting alarm. People who foresee the most unfavorable of all possible situations suffer. Such anxiety can appear at certain moments or haunt a person constantly.
– Anxiety in the form of phobias is associated with certain situations and objects. For example, fear of loneliness, spiders or darkness. May be a clinical case if expressed in the form of panic attacks.
- Neurotic anxiety. This form of anxiety is the most serious and is found in many psychological diseases: hysterical, schizoid. There is a pathological level of fear here that destroys the mental health of a person.
Now the entire planet is in fear of waiting due to the incessant flow of news and uncertainty. "Fear of waiting" or "free fear" is formed due to the information flow in which we are constantly immersed. The tools that help to cope with situational anxiety, which has no connection with clinical cases, will be described below.
Feelings of fear are easily confused, so before we talk about how to get rid of anxiety, we will learn how to identify it.
There are situations when we do not distinguish between emotions, so the so-called "false alarm" is formed. In this case, the first thing psychologists can advise is to learn how to isolate anxiety from a large stream of other emotions. Observe for yourself - in what situations you are overcome by anxiety. Divide these situations into those in which anxiety is justified and those where it is not.
For example, you are on a bus and as you approach the bus stop, you are overtaken by a feeling of anxiety. On the one hand, this may be due to fear that you will miss your stop, or a sense of shame, as it is embarrassing to ask the driver to stop the car.
Or another example, you want to ask the teacher a question in class, but you are afraid to raise your hand. This fear may arise from self-doubt and the expectation that classmates will laugh at you.
Sometimes anxiety is born from some other feelings, such as shame or insecurity. Realizing this and overcoming it, you no longer have a reason for concern, and with it the state of anxiety disappears.
Read more: “How to stop being shy and get rid of the language barrier”
How to cope with anxiety
Axiety often occurs due to uncertainty in actions and feelings. First, try to find out what causes anxiety. For example, you are worried about being fired from your job. Before you panic, look at the facts: look at the state of the market and the area in which your company operates, evaluate the workload at work now and predict the task plan for the next month. And this applies not only to work, but to any area in which you feel anxiety.
Usually such an exercise helps to see the true picture. If you understand that while everything is under control, you can exhale, if not, proceed to your detailing. Write out a detailed plan of action that will help you avoid uncertainty and tell you how to act in any situation:
Write down what skills you have and where they can be useful. For example, being an illustrator or photoshop, having a driver's license and owning a car, copywriting skills, etc.
Edit your resume and prepare some cover letters to the employer about yourself.
Form your own range of services, from the most preferred activities to the least interesting.
Leave a list of potential employers to whom you can offer your services. The bigger, the better.
Write to them!
The work done will help you feel more confident and have a plan for coping with a crisis.
Sometimes anxiety arises from the conviction that we will not be able to cope with this or that action. A visual picture of your skills will always help to believe in yourself. When you read your list, you will realize that you can achieve a lot, despite the circumstances.
Read also: “4 things on your resume that will help the employer to choose you”
Use exposure therapy
A complex combination of words with a simple meaning - a meeting with your problem "on the forehead. " It is important to understand that this is NOT a fight against a problem. The point is to acknowledge the existence of anxiety, not to get rid of it completely.
Don't ignore things that make you feel anxious. For example, to move up the career ladder, you need to learn English, but you haven’t opened your textbook for three days and you constantly scold yourself for it. This lowers your self-esteem and increases your anxiety about your success at work and in life.
Give yourself a full day of rest without worries and self-criticism. Imagine that this is an official vacation or vacation. And then gradually get down to business: you can start with one page of English text per day or a five-minute video. Gradually, you will accustom your body to the load and develop a habit.
Keep a sleep schedule
It is during sleep that growth hormone is produced, which is responsible for the restoration of our body, including the nervous system. Especially if we go to bed before 12 o'clock at night.
The BBC's Trust Me I'm a Doctor, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, did a little experiment on how sleep affects our psychological state. The study involved people who are distinguished by "strong sleep". During the experiment, the participants were given conditions: in the first three nights they had to sleep for 8 hours, which is the norm, and the next three nights - for 4 hours. Every day, the subjects answered questions that helped determine changes in their psychological state, behavior and emotions. The results showed that after two nights of sleep deprivation, negative emotions began to predominate in the subjects, as well as an increase in distrust of others and aggression.
The study also shows that insomnia is not always the result of mental disorders, sometimes it is lack of sleep that provokes the appearance of psychological problems.
It is important to periodically switch from one activity to another - for example, from physical activity to mental activity. So, when you go in for sports, there is a restoration of brain functions due to the supply of oxygen. And with mental stress, the muscular system is restored by improving blood flow in the muscles.
A simple alternation of work and study with a small amount of physical activity will improve the functioning of the body's metabolic processes, and at the same time speed up the restoration of the nervous system, contributing to its strengthening.
Meditate and breathe
Meditation and breathing are sure helpers in overcoming psychological instability. A Johns Hopkins University study found a relationship between meditation practice and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. The team of researchers found that the effect of meditation is comparable to the effect of depressants - in this case, being a more useful solution to the problem, as it does not cause side effects. Meditation also helps to switch the work of the brain and focus on yourself, and not on the "noise" around.