5 Ways To Cope With Anxiety

5 Ways To Cope With Anxiety

by Dr Emma Gray - 4th June, 2014

How To Cope With Anxiety

1. Breath
When we are anxious our breathing pattern changes from slow and deep (diaphragmatic breathing) to quick and shallow. As a result the Co2 and oxygen levels in our blood are pushes out of balanced resulting in a number of uncomfortable physical symptoms including dizziness/faintness, breathlessness and nausea. These symptoms exacerbate feelings of anxiety as people interpret them as meaning that there is really something wrong.

Simply by slowing down your breath (e.g. by counting slowing to 4 on the inhale and to 4 on the exhale) you can rebalance your Co2/oxygen level and reduce the unpleasant physical symptoms and stop anxiety spiralling out of control.

2. Identify your thoughts
Our thoughts determine how we feel and when we feel anxious it is usually as a result of a combination of two thought patterns:

i) Overestimating future disaster

ii) Underestimating our ability to cope with the disaster.

By following the steps below you will be able to deal with the thoughts that are making you feel anxious:

iii) Accurately evaluate the probability of the predicted disaster. It is very common when feeling anxious to confuse possibility with probability; many things we fear are possible but the majority are unlikely to occur.

iiii) Plan how you will deal with the identified worst case scenario. If you have a plan for this, then anything else will be a walk in the park. This will raise your confidence in your ability to cope with what lies ahead, which is key when dealing successfully with anxiety.

3. Don’t avoid things
We have been programmed to avoid things that we perceive as dangerous so avoidance of things that make us anxious comes naturally. However, avoidance undetermines our confidence and fuels self doubt as it robs us of the opportunity to learn that we can manage. If you cope with anxiety by avoiding challenging situations make a list of those situations and rate them in terms of difficultly. Then, starting with the least challenging, gradually practice engaging in each situation until your anxiety drops to more manageable levels. As your confidence grows gradually work your way up the hierarchy of situations. Remember, repetition and regularity of practice is key.

4. Reduce overall stress levels
If your stress levels are high you are more vulnerable to episodes of anxiety. So try to reduce unnecessary sources of stress so that you have more capacity for the things that matter.

5. Don’t be afraid of anxiety
Anxiety has been designed by evolution, therefore it will not harm you, the opposite is in fact the case. Anxiety serves a number of very important functions; it not only keeps us save but it motivates us to prepare for challenges (e.g. revising for a test). Without anxiety the human race would not have survived or be so successful. The key is the interpret the symptoms of anxiety not as a threat but as a misinterpretation of the situation i.e. no disaster is looming and you are more than equipped to deal with whatever comes next.

The British CBT & Counselling has both Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists trained in therapy for anxiety, in particular Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety. We have clinics across the country offering therapy for anxiety in Richmond (Surrey), therapy for anxiety in North Clapham (London),therapy for anxiety in South Clapham (London),therapy for anxiety in Fulham (London), therapy for anxiety in Marylebone (London), therapy for anxiety in Islington (London), therapy for anxiety in Canary Wharf (London), therapy for anxiety in West Bridgford (Nottingham) and therapy for anxiety in Stamford (Lincolnshire).


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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