If you struggle with day-to-day fears and anxieties, there are things you can do to help you cope.
10 things you could do to deal with everyday fears are:
- Take time out
- Breathe through panic
- Face your fears
- Imagine the worst
- Look at the evidence
- Do not try to be perfect
- Visualise a happy place
- Talk about it
- Get the basics right
- Reward yourself
If you have an anxiety-related diagnosis, you may need to take a different approach.
1. Take time out
It's difficult to think clearly when you're filled with fear or anxiety. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down.
Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes. Go for a walk or make a cup of tea. Having a bath can also help calm your mind.
2. Breathe through panic
If your heart starts beating faster or your palms are sweating, do not fight it.
Stay where you are and notice the anxiety. Place the palm of your hand on your tummy and breathe slowly and deeply.
The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic. This helps you deal with fear.
3. Face your fears
Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. If you face whatever it is you fear, it should start to fade. For example, if you panic one day getting into a lift, it's best to get back into a lift the next day.
If you are too frightened to face the fear, consider a gentler approach. For example, if you are anxious about going shopping, consider parking outside the shop on one day and going at a quiet time another day. This way you can slowly build up your confidence.
4. Imagine the worst
Try imagining the worst thing that can happen. For example, panicking and having a heart attack. Notice what anxiety comes up in your mind and body when you think this way. Stay with the thought and allow your anxiety to naturally reduce.
5. Look at the evidence
It may help to challenge fearful thoughts. For example, you might be scared of getting trapped in a lift and suffocating. But ask yourself if you have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear.
6. Do not try to be perfect
Life can be full of stress. Many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen. It's important to remember that life is messy.
7. Visualise a happy place
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm. It could be a picture of you walking on a beautiful beach or a happy memory from childhood. Let the positive feelings calm you until you feel more relaxed.
8. Talk about it
Fears become less frightening when we speak about them.
If your fears are not going away, ask your GP for help. They can refer you for counselling or psychotherapy.
9. Get the basics right
Lots of people use alcohol or drugs to try to cope with anxiety. But this will only make matters worse. Simple things like a good night's sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best ways to manage anxiety.
10. Reward yourself
If you face up to one of your fears, give yourself a treat. For example, you could reward yourself when you've made that call you've been dreading.
Your treat could be a:
- meal out
- country walk
- little gift that makes you happy