Understand and Start to Manage Your Anxiety Today!

by self-help expert Dr Pam Spurr.

Anxiety can strike anyone, even people who look ‘sorted’. The recent revelations from Zayn Malik about his crippling anxiety shows it can strike any age group too.

With so much change happening around us, anxiety seems to be on the increase.

Feeling anxious is a different experience for everyone but you might feel:

  • Like you can’t switch your mind off
  • You worry about everything
  • You fear that nothing is going to go well
  • You have a general feeling that something isn’t right
  • You feel sick to your stomach
  • Your heart might race
  • You feel physically tense
  • …and a variety of other symptoms that disturb your sleep and waking hours.

What is anxiety?

You can think of anxiety as non-specific fear. Unlike a phobia where you have a specific fear of something – like arachnophobia, a fear of spiders – anxiety’s more free-floating.

This is why anxiety is so draining – because you risk spending your emotional energy overthinking everything. You worry the last thing you did wasn’t good enough. You fear the next thing you do will fail.

Or you worry about the state of the world, your future, your family, your boyfriend/girlfriend and/or your friends. The list of worries with anxiety can be endless.

It can ‘paralyse’ you, as Zayn probably felt when he cancelled that gig. But there’s lots you can do.

Anyone feeling anxious should try the following tips:

  • Don’t hide it from family and friends because you feel embarrassed or that they won’t understand. Opening up and talking about anxiety can help defuse it.
  • Learn to live more ‘in the moment’. Focus on how to make today a good or at least good-enough day. Become aware of when your mind starts worrying about the past. Stop those thoughts in their tracks. You can learn from the past but you can’t change it.
  • Equally, challenge yourself when your mind worries about the future. It’s good to have future goals and plans. That’s very different to your mind spinning over and over things that might go wrong in the future. Don’t live in a world of “might happens” – because it might not happen!
  • Although being online is fantastic it can lead some to feel like there’s no escape from constant updates. That fuels anxiety. Whether it’s from what friends are doing to politics, it can feel overwhelming. Take a daily break from social media.
  • Definitely do some sort of physical exercise daily – even a walk – to help burn excess ‘anxious’ energy.
  • Avoid too much caffeine and sugary foods as these intensify anxiety. Eat as healthily and ‘clean’ly as much as possible.
  • Don’t use alcohol to ‘take the edge off’ – anxiety bounces straight back, often worse.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation. The more tense your body feels, the more anxious your mind.
  • Challenge irrational thoughts like you’re not doing well enough or you’re going to fail. Tell yourself you’re just fine, you’re doing your best, it’ll be okay.
  • If you can’t get on top of anxious thoughts please see your GP to discuss how they can help.

For more advice check @AnxietyUK, @CharityNoPanic and @NHSDirect.

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About the author: Dr Pam Spurr is an award-winning radio presenter, agony aunt, relationship, sex and behaviour expert, and life coach. Dr Pam is the author of 14 self-help books on topics including sex, dating, happiness, emotional eating and dream interpretation. She has appeared as a contributor on TV programmes including This Morning, Loose Women, LK Today, Daybreak, GMB, The Wright Stuff, BBC Breakfast, and for ten years running as a resident behaviour expert on Big Brother’s Little Brother and Big Brother’s Bit on the Side. Pam has a doctorate in psychology from a London teaching hospital and is a chartered research, academic and teaching psychologist. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research looked at parenting/family issues.

You can follow Dr Pam @drpamspurr or visit her website at www.drpam.co.uk.

image: panic anxiety 036 by Alessandra under Creative Commons license