Coping with anxiety

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, and it can be mild or severe. Anxiety is our natural response to threat. It is also known as ‘fight or flight’, a normal response that allows us to react to danger. The fight or flight response evolved to help protect humankind from danger in our environment. It is designed to help alert us to danger and respond quickly to reduce the risk of harm to us and those we care about. These immediate threats require us to respond quickly to either fight the threat or enable us to escape. When you feel under threat your body releases chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol, which help physically prepare you to either fight the danger or run away. These chemicals are also what cause you to have anxious feelings and feel sick or nervous.

Do I have anxiety?

Some of the symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Heart racing – triggered by the sudden rush of adrenaline, your heart is pumping faster to get blood and oxygen to vital organs and muscles to prepare you for fight or flight
  • Muscle tension – your body is tensing up in preparation for fight or flight
  • Blurred vision – pupils dilate to sharpen your vision so you can clearly see the danger
  • Pins and needles
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Urge to go to the toilet – your body is trying to get rid of excess weight so you can fight or flight
  • Sweating – your body is preparing to help cool you down if you need to run or fight
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling dizzy – when you’re anxious, your blood pressure increases. Although it may feel like it, you’re unlikely to faint as that’s generally caused by decreases in blood pressure
  • Stress

Situations that can make you feel anxious include:

  • Writing exams
  • Starting a new job
  • Going for a job interview
  • Relationship problems
  • Being confronted with a problem you can’t easily solve
  • Being place in situations where someone else is in control

How do I cope with anxiety?

Anxiety can be managed easily with the right skills and techniques. For self-management it is important to use breathing and relaxation techniques. These should be incorporated as part of your daily routine. Mindfulness is also a great tool in managing anxiety as it allows you to change your focus. Other helpful ways of managing anxiety and improve your overall wellbeing include eating healthily, exercising regularly, cutting down on stimulants like caffeine and cigarettes, speaking to someone, taking time to do activities you find relaxing, such as listening to music.

Want to talk things through?

If you find yourself anxious and struggling to cope, then support is available. Hidden Wounds is a free and confidential service run by Help for Heroes that offers treatment and support for people wishing to learn how to manage their anger better. You can reach them by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) or by requesting more information from them here.



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