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5 Ways To Treat Anxiety

How to overcome anxiety

How To Overcome Anxiety

If you struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone: anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the UK. The illness can affect your career and limit the activities you might want to do. Anxiety can have unpleasant physical symptoms too, like a racing pulse, sweating, upset stomach and panic attacks; these symptoms themselves can be scary.

If this sounds familiar, the good news is there are strategies to manage or even overcome your anxiety. In this article, we’ll explore some effective self-help options for beating anxiety, and some proven treatments, too.

1. Understand your anxiety

It can be helpful to figure out what triggers your anxiety: the people, places or situations you find especially challenging. Knowing your triggers is the first step in starting to control them.

A great way to keep track of your anxious feelings is by keeping a diary or journal. Note down what you found difficult over the day, and also any strategies that helped to calm you.

Many people find writing down how they feel also stops the worrying that often comes with anxiety. By putting your worries on the page, they’re not circling in your head any more.

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

Anxiety can make you see the world negatively. For instance, if you have social anxiety, you might assume you’ll make a fool of yourself if you have to speak in public. After the event, you might exaggerate any mistakes you made and convince yourself people were judging you.

It’s a good idea to question these thoughts as they arise. If you catch yourself expecting a worst-case scenario, stop. Ask yourself: is this outcome likely to happen, or is there a more realistic one?

If you persist in challenging these thoughts, over time you can regain the idea that you’ll successfully conquer any situation.

3. Face your fears

If you suffer from anxiety, it’s natural to avoid those situations that make you more anxious. For example, if you don’t like travelling, you might stop going on trips. But avoiding these situations reinforces the idea that they’re threatening.

You can break the cycle by facing the situation. The trick is to break this into steps and start with a step that’s easy to handle, then gradually work up to more challenging ones. For instance, if you’re anxious about using public transport, a first step could be to visit a bus stop or a small train station, perhaps taking someone you trust, for support.

Persevere with each step for long enough, and you’ll find your anxiety will actually subside. This is because your body can only sustain its threat response for so long. In time, the adrenalin will wear off, and you’ll feel more relaxed.

4. Look after yourself  

Being on edge all the time can be very draining, both physically and mentally. While everyone deserves a break every so often, it’s even more important to rest if you have anxiety.

Try to make time for relaxation every day. You might like to try some breathing exercises, reading or meditation. Physical exercise can be helpful if you have anxiety, too. Studies have shown just a few minutes of exercise a day reduces stress and helps you sleep.

Just as you deserve to give yourself a break, you deserve to be heard. It can be helpful to discuss what you’re going through with a trusted friend or family member. Having someone listen and show they care can make you feel less isolated.

There are also helplines and online forums you can contact if you’d feel more comfortable talking to a stranger (we’ve listed some at the end of this article).

5. Get treatment for your anxiety

If your anxiety is severe, you might want to consider treatment options. You can get help for anxiety through the NHS if you live in the UK. To get treatment, you can ask your GP. In some cases, you can self-refer, too. Here are some effective options:

Talking therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is very effective in helping you beat anxiety. It works by focusing on how your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviour and gives you the skills to challenge these thoughts.

Online tools

There are online CBT courses to treat anxiety and panic attacks, which are available through the NHS. The mental health charity Mind also has a list of online tools which you can browse to find one that suits you.

Medication

A type of medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms, but there are other options if SSRIs aren’t suitable for you. Medication can be especially effective in combination with therapy.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful, and if you are suffering from anxiety, we wish you all the best in your recovery.

Useful info:

Anxiety UK is a national charity dedicated to helping people affected by anxiety. They have online info about anxiety and also run online courses and support groups.

Samaritans is a helpline: 116 123 that’s open 24/7, for anyone who’s in distress or struggling with their mental health.

The NHS has an informative webpage on anxiety, with links to various treatment options.

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