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Coping with anxiety

Worry is an important part of life. It can even be helpful as it can protect us from certain situations – such as stepping out into the road. However, excessive and irrational worries could be a sign that you are suffering with an anxiety disorder. There are a number of strategies that can be put in place to cope with anxiety. We have listed a few examples below, which should be helpful.

Ø  Method 1
Ø  4-7-8 Breathing
This technique is based on science. When we are anxious our breathing rate increases, and this causes our brain to respond via the parasympathetic nervous system. This means that “fight or flight mode” is activated. We respond as if there is a threat that we must defend ourselves against.

The basis of 4-7-8 breathing is that by increasing the levels of carbon dioxide and decreasing the levels of oxygen in the brain. This can be equated to using a paper bag to breathe into. The higher the levels of carbon dioxide are, the calmer you become.

This technique is very simple. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 7 seconds. Finally breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this for around 5 minutes until you feel calm. It is important to practise this technique regularly, even when you are not feeling anxious.
Ø  Method 2
Ø   Autogenic Relaxation
Follow along with this video on YouTube: Autogenic relaxation has been recommended by the NHS for pain relief, however it also shows benefits with anxieties.
Ø  Method 3
Ø   Object-Focused Meditation
This can be very useful if you find yourself focused on a negative thought or feeling/emotion. The basis of this technique is to choose an object that is near you and focus on it. Study everything about this object. Study the size of it, its colour, the way the light reflects off it. How does this object interact with the space around it? Is it touching anything else? You will find the more that you focus on this, the less you are focusing on your previous negative thoughts.

This is a useful website to help guide you through this technique:
Ø  Method 4
Ø   Exercise
Exercise has been shown to release endorphins (a chemical within the brain), which contributes to a higher mood. It is also useful as a distraction, because when you are exercising you are focused on the activity. It is recommended that we each have 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Ø  Method 5
Ø  Write it down
It can be very useful to help clarify what you are feeling by writing it down. You could keep a diary of different activities and whether they made you feel good or bad. It can be positive to keep a list of activities that make you feel good, so that you can do these more often!

You could also scale how certain situations will make you feel in terms of anxiety (scale this from 1-10, with 1 being the calmest). You might see that over time, certain situations make you less anxious than they used to.


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