If you struggle with day-to-day fears and anxieties, there are steps you can take 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
- Don't 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 impossible 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 you start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it.
Stay where you are and feel the panic without trying to distract yourself. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathe slowly and deeply.
The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.
3. Face your fears
Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. Whatever your fear, if you face it, it should start to fade. If you panic one day getting into a lift, for example, it's best to get back into a lift the next day.
4. Imagine the worst
Try imagining the worst thing that can happen. Maybe it's panicking and having a heart attack. Then try to think yourself into having a heart attack. It's not possible. The fear will run away the more you chase it.
5. Look at the evidence
It sometimes helps to challenge fearful thoughts. For example, you might be scared of getting trapped in a lift and suffocating. But ask yourself, have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear.
6. Don't try to be perfect
Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and 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 soothe you until you feel more relaxed.
8. Talk about it
Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. If you can't talk to a partner, friend or family member, call a helpline such as the Samaritans. You can contact them on 116 123, open 24 hours a day.
If your fears aren't going away, ask your GP for help. GPs can refer people for counselling or psychotherapy.
9. Get the basics right
Lots of people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-treat anxiety, but this will only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night's sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety.
10. Reward yourself
Finally, give yourself a treat. When you've made that call you've been dreading, for example, reinforce your success by treating yourself. Your treat could be a massage, a country walk, a meal out, a book, a movie, or whatever little gift makes you happy.