Five self-care tips to help anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to feeling worried, tense or afraid and is particularly with things that are about to happen or what we think may happen in the future. 

It becomes a mental health problem once it begins to impact your ability to live your life. 

Anxiety is experienced differently depending on an individual.

There can be physical and mental effects for someone dealing with anxiety. A few common ones are faster breathing, feeling tense and having a sense of dread. 

Some causes of anxiety can come from difficult experiences in the past, current situations and may also be triggered in people living with serious physical or mental health problems. It can also be a side effect of psychiatric medications and recreational drug and alcohol use.  

Living with anxiety can be difficult. Here are a few self-care tips for you or someone you know to help manage it. 

1. Your physical health

  • Sleep: Getting enough sleep helps with anxiety as it gives you the energy needed to better cope with difficult feelings and experiences.  
  • Diet: Eating regularly helps maintain stable blood sugar which greatly helps mood and energy levels.  
  • Exercise: Even just a 10-minute walk can help increase mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Doing physical activity on a more regular basis can lead to improved self-esteem and reduce stress.1

2. Breathing exercises 

Breathing exercises help slow your heart rate and feel calmer. The following is the NHS’ step-by-step guide to a simple breathing exercise:2

  1. Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing. 
  2. Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it. 
  3. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. 
  4. Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first. 
  5. Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful. 
  6. Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

There are also visual guides that you may find useful: 

RELAX AND BREATHE: Do Nothing for 10 Minutes




3. Complementary and alternative therapies 

  • Yoga 
  • Meditation 
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Massage 
  • Reflexology 
  • Herbal treatments 
  • Bach flower remedies 
  • Hypnotherapy. 

These are examples of complementary and alternative therapies that some have found to help with anxiety both individually or combined. Give some of these methods a go and see what works best for you! 

4. Keep a diary 

Keeping a diary can be a great way to not only manage your worries by writing them down in one place, but can help you rationalise your thoughts and feelings and identify patterns and unknown triggers.

You could write about a scenario that causes you to be anxious and add how it makes you feel, think, what you believe will happen and what is the probable reality, letting you be critical without dismissing your own feelings. 

It is also a good idea to write about what’s going well as it allows you to take a second to recognize the good things going on in your life and encourages you to be kinder to yourself.  

5. Talking 

Talking to someone you trust may help with anxiety just because it shows you that you have someone who cares enough to listen. However, if you feel as though there is no one you trust enough to talk to there is always the option of peer support groups.  

These groups help as they provide those with severe anxiety a space where everyone has had a similar experience, they are willing to share and is full of individuals who are happy to listen and support each other.

This group is the most warming, caring, considerate group I’ve ever attended.

Here are a few groups and services you can seek out for more information: 

If you’re having severe anxiety or a panic attack and need help, contact Safe Spaces. Anyone aged 7 and over and living in the Bradford district and Craven can access the service by calling first Response on 0800 952 1181 and asking for ‘Safe Spaces’ to receive a same day in-person or online appointment. See our Safe Spaces page for more information.

References:

  1. Mental Health Foundation, ‘How to Look after Your Mental Health Using Exercise’ 
  2. NHS Choices, ‘Breathing Exercises for Stress
  3. The School of Self, ‘RELAX and BREATHE: Do Nothing for 10 Minutes’ 

Posted on: 7th December 2022

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