Guide To Manage Anxiety

In this guide, you'll find advice on how to manage your anxiety.

You'll find relevant information about Anxiety and what you can do in this article. The advice can help you improve your life: 

Positive benefits    

  • Greater ability to remain calm
  • Less likelihood of becoming angry
  • Greater ability to control nerves
  • Improved capacity to relax /switch-off
  • More stability and resilience in confidence levels
  • Better physical shape as you suffer less from minor illnesses and aches/pains
  • Greater muscle relaxation
  • Performance improvement
  • Improvements in self-confidence       

Reduction in 

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating – palms of hands; forehead
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling sick in the pit of your stomach
  • Tension headaches
  • Psychosomatic ailments such as:
  • loss of sexual drive
  • light-headedness/dizziness
  • tightness in chest/throat area
  • muscle tension in the back area
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • “freeze” in public situations                                                                   

What is the cause of Anxiety?

  • One of the most important findings from cognitive behavioural therapy is that feelings of extreme discomfort and /or psychological tension are not due to the situation itself but to your perception (understanding) of the situation.
  • The assessment we formulate about the situation can trigger feelings of intense anxiety and debilitated mental and physical health 
  • Therefore, to address the problem, we must learn how to intercept Negative Automatic Thoughts and how to re-assess the situation.
  • When we recognise the feelings of anxiety like those described under Negative Personal Wellness we could jot them down in a diary or journal of some kind. 

  • We can give these feelings a rating on a scale of 1 to 100 (1 low and 100 very high) regarding discomfort. Note: frequently this is not possible at the time, but we should try to do it as soon as possible afterwards.

  • Later on, we can reflect on the situation and try to identify the triggers as accurately as possible: When? Who? Where? What?

    For example:

    o   When? Sunday at 16.30h

    o   Where? In the kitchen of my friend’s house.

    o   Who? My wife in front of my two friends,

    o   What? My wife was complaining that she did not know I was going away on a business trip this coming weekend.

  • Identify the thoughts and images that were swirling around our head in that specific situation.

    o   How did I react to the comments of my wife at that time? Upset and irritated, I felt my stomach turning over, thought “here we go again” …Made a comment about “I told you last night!” and began sweating and gulped my drink down, not enjoying it.

    o   Why? I felt embarrassed in front of our friends and undermined.

    o   What images were in my mind then? I had already told her last night – I could see us together at the dinner table when I had mentioned it.

    o   What was I telling myself? “Why is she nagging me now right in front of our friends? I have to do this to earn money to pay the mortgage; we shouldn’t be discussing this in public.”

    o   What was I thinking? “This is embarrassing and unnecessary. Why doesn’t she remember? What are my friends going to think about this”

  • We may want to look at how we can react in a more positive, caring, adaptive and less anxious way.

    o   What is the other person(s) thinking?

    o   How are my actions affecting them?

    o   How could I have handled the situation better?

  • In what other ways I could have perceived (assessed) the situation?

    o   Is the situation as terrible as I imagined? Is there a possibility that her remarks were just a normal reaction of someone who thought it was a bit late notice to hear about such a trip.

    o   What has paying the mortgage got to do with it? Our friends have known us for years and won’t have been bothered by the conversation as they know we both lead extremely hectic lives.

    o   What are other interpretations there for the events which took place? She was not aggressive but more surprised. She had maybe planned something important herself which with me being away could not take place easily.

  • To develop the skills of intercepting Negative Automatic Thoughts and interrupting their elaboration during an incident (thus avoiding the triggering of anxiety) we want to study the practice of Mindfulness

  • This modern, westernised, application of Buddhist strategies and techniques allow us to concentrate all our processing power in the present, without being “taken away” by negative speculations about future developments or hidden meanings

  • Generally, as a bonus, we also end up being much calmer throughout the day, better able to enjoy our pleasures in the present and improving our sleeping patterns

How can you learn to manage Anxiety?

Anxiety management is about: 

  1. Using CBT skills to recognise and interrupt all the distracting, Negative Automatic Thoughts that will appear during your task, so that we will have at our disposal the totality of our processing power. We will thank our Mind when it will offer the usual, worrying advice and we will return to our task fully dedicated to the present moment
  2. Immediately interrupt any questions regarding the future task that starts with “what if”, as this is the main trigger of Worry, which will bring anxiety
  3. Dedicate precisely, scheduled time to plan for the future task, without procrastination, but without letting the planning spilling out the allocated time. When planning, we let our Mind free to formulate ideas without immediate judgment. In a second moment, we evaluate our ideas with a Pros&Cons Tab which will help us to choose the most appropriate, balanced and adaptive solution.

In any case, it is always recommendable to seek professional help if you think you have Anxiety. CBT Therapy is the recommended treatment by NICE for Anxiety, and it can be helpful even if it's to establish to what degree you suffer from Anxiety. 

By Lee Grant, Clinical Director and Senior Therapist - Efficacy 

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