Mental Health

Navigating anxiety: simple practical tips to improve how you feel

Anxiety can be hard be hard to deal with. But there are some things we can do to manage these tough feelings.
Cartoon women looking stressed and anxious with a swirly squiggle in the background.

Anxiety is a universal human experience, but it is not merely an occasional worry or fleeting panic for many. It’s a constant hum in the background, a perpetual state of unease that can significantly interfere with daily life. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, nearly three-quarters of the population (73%) had felt anxious at least sometimes in the previous two weeks, with one in five people (20%) anxious most or all of the time.

Stigma and shame affect how people deal with their anxiety. Nearly half of people (45%) keep their anxiety secret. But you are not alone; many people are feeling this way.

Here are our practical tips to help you cope with anxiety.

1. Keep moving

Exercise is a good way of dealing with anxiety. The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as brisk walking or cycling. However, going for a run, swimming, taking part in a fitness class, or a team sport can help take your mind off your thoughts as they require more concentration.

2. Socialise and stay connected

Group of women socialising
Group of women socialising

Even if you can’t meet face-to-face, staying connected through calls, texts, or video chats can provide a sense of belonging and reduce anxiety. Make sure to put aside some time in your week to spend time with others. 

Five proven ways to improve how you feel by connecting with others.

3. Embrace nature

Spending time in nature can significantly decrease feelings of anxiety. Nature offers a calming environment that can help reduce stress and improve mood. Whether it’s a stroll in your local park, a walk on the beach, or gardening in your backyard, make it a point to incorporate nature into your routine.

Feel the difference of nature – be active in Telford and Wrekin’s green spaces.

4. Utilise breathing techniques

Breathing techniques can be instrumental in controlling anxiety. Slow, deep breaths can help your body to relax and distract your mind from anxious thoughts. One popular technique is the ‘4-7-8 method’, where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Regular practice can help manage anxiety levels.

5. Limit alcohol and caffeine

Cup of coffee

While reaching for a glass of wine or an extra cup of coffee may be tempting, these substances can increase anxiety levels. 

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommend not regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week. As for caffeine, try limiting your intake to a few cups a day and avoid it close to bedtime to prevent sleep disturbances.

6. Get support for money worries

A common cause of anxiety is money. If you’re worried about being unable to pay bills, struggling to repay debt, or unsure if you can cover your family’s living costs, seek help. You can speak to an organisation such as Citizens Advice or StepChange.

Check out our advice on how to cope with cost-of-living pressures.

7. Prioritise quality sleep

Man lying in bed in the dark using his phone while bathed in the light from his phone.

Good sleep hygiene is essential for managing anxiety. Establish a regular sleep routine, create a restful environment, and avoid screens before bedtime. 

If you’re struggling with insomnia, consider speaking with your GP or using NHS-approved apps like Sleepstation.

Sleep well and improve your wellbeing with these tips.

8. Try Silvercloud

SilverCloud is an online therapy programme that allows people to access Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques in a way that suits them. 

SilverCloud allows people to complete therapy in their own time and at their own pace whilst still having regular online reviews with a trained Practitioner within our team.

9. Join an anxiety support group

Support groups, whether in-person or online, offer a safe environment to share experiences and learn coping strategies. Organisations such as Anxiety UK offer various services, including support groups.

10. Stop smoking

It’s a common belief that smoking helps you relax. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. 

When smokers haven’t had a cigarette for a while, the craving for another makes them feel anxious. These feelings can be temporarily relieved when they light up a cigarette. So smokers associate improved mood with smoking. In fact, it’s the effects of smoking itself that’s likely to have caused the anxiety in the first place.

Stop smoking for free with help from a healthy lifestyle advisor.

11. Practice self-care

Books, games, knitting, DIY are interestes to take up against loneliness

Finally, remember to take time for yourself. Engage in activities you enjoy, whether that’s reading a book, gardening, or taking a long bath. 

Self-care isn’t an indulgence; it’s a necessity for mental wellbeing.

Find what works for you to reduce your anxiety

It’s essential to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. What works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with these tips, and don’t be disheartened if progress seems slow. The journey towards managing anxiety is just that – a journey. It’s not about eliminating anxiety altogether but learning how to navigate through it effectively.

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