Skip to main content
Forums Home
Illustration of people sitting and standing

New here?

Chat with other people who 'Get it'

with health professionals in the background to make sure everything is safe and supportive.

Register

Have an account?
Login

How to deal with anxiety: 6 simple strategies

Tortoiseshell
Moderator

woman-wearing-headphones-850.jpg

 

If you experience anxiety, know that you’re not alone.

 

It’s human to feel anxious at times, and especially during times of change and uncertainty. Levels of anxiety and stress during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic were found to be 3 times higher than pre-COVID-19 levels, and this was worse for the many Australians already living with an anxiety disorder.

 

So whether you’re dealing with more anxiety than usual, or are managing an anxiety disorder, let’s talk about some simple tools and strategies to help you cope.

 

1. Recognise anxiety when it comes up 

 

Anxiety can be horrible! You often feel it in your body with a racing heart, tension, rapid breathing, and sweating. It can also affect your sleep and cause changes to your appetite and digestion. When you’re going through an anxious time it might be very hard to relax.

 

Notice what anxiety looks like for you. Maybe your shoulders get very tense or you find it hard to concentrate. Perhaps your thoughts become really worried and focused on the worst-case scenario. Taking note of this and naming it when it happens will help you to take action and support yourself.

 

2. Use your breath

 

Believe it or not, your breath and feelings are very connected, so you can use your breath to help reduce your anxiety. When you’re anxious and feel it in your body, check on your breathing. It might be fast or you might be holding your breath without realising.  

 

To help bring your breathing back to normal put one hand on your stomach and one hand in the middle of your chest. Start to breathe slowly and deeply into your diaphragm, feeling your stomach expand. Then breathe out slowly, letting your stomach fall back. Do this for a few minutes. If you find it difficult, you can practice this technique lying on your back with your head, back, and legs in a comfortable position. This often makes it easier to breathe into our stomachs when we are tense.

 

Everyone is different so find a technique that works for you. These free mindfulness apps can guide you through a range of different breathing exercises:

 

3. Question scary thoughts

 

Anxious thoughts can be frightening. If you get caught in a loop of anxious thinking, your thoughts can convince you that the world is ending, or that you’re dying, or that you will never succeed at anything in life (they can also be pretty mean, right?).

 

When you notice these thoughts try writing them down. Take a breath, read over them again, and think about how realistic they are. Is it really true that you’ll never succeed at anything? What about last week when someone gave you good feedback about something you did? You get the idea.

 

Challenging anxious thoughts isn’t always easy, but with practice, it can help break an anxious thought cycle.

 

4. Postpone scary thoughts (you read right!)

 

If anxious thoughts are getting in the way of your day, try setting aside a ‘worry time’ each day. Try and make it the same time each day for the same length of time, and in the same place. For example, 6pm, at the kitchen table, for 20 minutes.

 

If you notice anxious thoughts during the day, note them down on a piece of paper or on your phone. Say to yourself: “I’m busy now, so I’m going to worry about that during my worry time. Then go back to what you were doing or focus on something enjoyable for you.

 

When you come to your worry time, take out your worry list and see what is still bothering you. Notice if some worries are no longer relevant. Get started worrying in your head or on paper, whatever feels right. When you reach the end of your worry time, it’s important you stop. Anything that is still bothering you can carry over to tomorrow’s worry time.

 

5. Exercise

 

Again, that mind and body connection! Exercise is great for long-term mental health. It can also help in the short-term. While it might be the last thing you feel like doing – taking time to do some push-ups, go for a walk, or have a dance can make a huge difference to your anxiety in the moment.

 

6. Get support

 

These tips may help in your day-to-day life, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to manage anxiety symptoms or disorders completely on your own. If your anxiety is getting in the way of what’s important to you or causing you too much distress it’s important you tell someone you trust. To get extra professional support, talk to your GP about the changes you've noticed in yourself. 

 

 

Now we want to hear from you! What is your go-to strategy that helps with your anxiety? Share your tools and strategies in the comments so we can learn from each other.

 

If you’re new to the forums, we’d love to hear your thoughts or questions. Register for the forums here to start connecting with our super supportive community.

2 Comments
BPDSurvivor
Community Guide

Over the years, I've learnt to tame my anxiety by doing what scares me the most. I'm not referring to dare-devil antics, but rather, self-implemented, self-monitored, self-regulated 'exposure' therapy.

 

For example, I used to develop a severe anxiety around crowds. Self-talk enabled me to slowly introduce myself to crowds. I held my head high, walked in, and walked out. Slowly, the time of exposure increased. I still get an anxious twitch around crowds, but I get myself in there because I no longer want to be ruled and paralysed by my own anxieties.

 

For this to work, you must be ready. No one can or should make you face your fears if you do not feel ready.

 

On a lighter note, I hate dirty dishes. I end up washing every little spoon, fork, cup so it doesn't reach the sink. This became an obsession where I spent so much more time cleaning than was needed.....what did my psychologist say? "Make sure you leave at least one dirty dish in the sink each day before you head off to work."

Tortoiseshell
Moderator

Hey @BPDSurvivor, thanks for jumping in with your strategies. It's pretty amazing how you've exposed yourself to the things you're anxious about in a way that is safe for you. That takes a lot of honesty with yourself!

 

I'm going to think about that myself. During COVID and lockdowns I've had permission to stay away from things that make me anxious, I need to gently re-expose myself. 

 

One of my anxiety coping strategies is to use an app that does basic thought challenging, it's a friendly chat robot called Woebot! But if my anxiety's too high or too physical I tend to go for a walk or listen to music. I'm keen to hear what others do in the moment to cope with anxiety Smiley Happy

 

 


Mental Health Australia All rights reserved.