13/10/2015 1:06 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Six Steps You Can Take To Cope With Anxiety


Anxiety is typically described as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Most of us experience anxiety at some stage in our lives. For some of us, however, anxiety can become a persistent and debilitating experience which makes even everyday tasks seem like a challenge. Anxiety is one of the most important symptoms of a number of conditions including panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.

A lot of research has been done on this subject and there are some actions that have been proven to help patients over the years to cope with this condition better. These include the following:

Learn about anxiety

Anxiety manifests in different ways and at times it can be very puzzling for the person going through the experience (and others around them) as to what exactly is happening. Learning more about it through self-help courses or speaking with others who have gone through similar experiences can be a very helpful first step.

Undertake regular exercise

Exercising regularly, especially aerobic activities like swimming and cycling, can help to reduce stress and improve your mood. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. For some people, dancing acts as great stress buster that helps them to relax, in addition to the workout.

Follow a healthy lifestyle

Getting proper sleep can be a challenge when you are feeling anxious. Hence, it is important that you avoid drinks containing high quantities of caffeine like coffee and fizzy drinks. Caffeine not only disturbs your sleep but can also increase your heartbeat. It has also been shown that alcohol and smoking can worsen anxiety. Thus stopping smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation is an effective strategy for reducing anxiety.

Express your feelings

This can be difficult to do at first especially since it is often quite complex to describe exactly what is going through your mind. You might also wonder about the reactions of others given that mental health conditions are often less understood (and at times even stigmatised) as compared to physical problems like a fever or a cough. However, it is absolutely crucial to discuss your situation with others who you feel comfortable around. At times being able to articulate your worries to someone else instead of just going over them in your head can make them seem like much less of a problem. It is important for friends and relatives of a person coping with anxiety to be empathetic and listen well. It is also crucial to not be judgemental or try to offer a quick fix as that might actually make things worse.

Face your worries

Avoiding situations that trigger your worries might help in the short-term but in the long-term this strategy might prevent you from living your life as you would like to. For instance, if you are an anxious flier, it might be more helpful to face your fear as opposed to avoiding flying altogether. This can help you to feel more confident about being able to cope with anxiety as opposed to reinforcing the negative thoughts.

Don't be too hard on yourself

Anxieties can often be frustrating and you might just try too hard to get rid of them. This, however, only makes them more persistent. So it is a better strategy to accept that you are going through a difficult phase which too will pass. It also helps when people around you do not say things like "stop worrying" because really if you could stop worrying you would have done so yourself!