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On this page we'll look at the following, simply click on the links below to be taken straight to the section.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Most people feel anxious at times. It's particularly common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events or changes, especially if they could have a big impact on your life.
When is anxiety a mental health problem?
Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem for you if:
your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy
Try these when you're feeling anxious or stressed:
Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
Limit caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
You can’t put your finger on it but you’re not on top form.
You feel tired more often, you’re emotional and the things you used to love doing now don’t hold the same appeal. You can’t really generalise how struggling to cope can make you feel or act, but if you think these symptoms sound like you:
Lacking energy or feeling tired
Feeling restless and agitated
Not wanting to talk to or be with people
Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
Finding it hard to cope with everyday things
Making some small changes in your life, such as resolving a difficult situation, talking about your problems or getting more sleep, can usually improve your mood. A low mood that doesn't go away can be a sign of depression.
Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences. Some people have described self-harm as a way to:
express something that is hard to put into words
turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible
change emotional pain into physical pain
reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts
have a sense of being in control
escape traumatic memories
have something in life that they can rely on
punish yourself for your feelings and experiences
stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated (see dissociative disorders)
create a reason to physically care for themselves
express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life.
After self-harming you may feel a short-term sense of release, but the cause of your distress is unlikely to have gone away. Self-harm can also bring up very difficult emotions and could make you feel worse.
There's no single reason why someone may try to take their life, but certain things can increase the risk. A person may be more likely to have suicidal thoughts if they have a mental health condition, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Misusing alcohol or drugs and having poor job security can also make a person more vulnerable. It's not always possible to prevent suicidal thoughts, but keeping your mind healthy with regular exercise, healthy eating and maintaining friendships can help you cope better with stressful or upsetting situations.
Learn to manage difficult feelings
Take each day at a time. There might be good days and bad days.
Try to focus on each day at a time and set yourself small, achievable goals.
Develop coping strategies that work for you. Self-help resources,
such as Mood Juice, can help you to work through difficult feelings and learn coping skills.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Supressing your feelings when they happen can cause them to build up over time and make them even harder to cope with. Think about what caused you to feel suicidal and share this with those supporting you.
Make a happy box. Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down. The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you, for example: a favourite book, positive quotes, photos, letters, poems, note’s to yourself, a cuddly toy, a perfume or smell important to you.
Learn your triggers. Keeping a diary can help you to find patterns in your mood over time and help you to think about what might be causing you to feel suicidal. You can track your feelings by using an online mood diary, such as Mood Panda.
Don't blame yourself. Many people who have tried or thought about taking their life feel guilty afterwards, especially if they have worried loved ones. Try to accept that was just how you were feeling at the time, and focus your energy now on looking after yourself.
Write a letter to yourself. Include happy memories and mention the people who love and care about you. This can be helpful to read when you are experiencing suicidal feelings to remind yourself that things can get better.
Make plans to look forward to. It doesn't have to be something big like a holiday but scheduling time with loved ones, booking tickets to a music or art event or joining a club can help you to feel more positive about the future.
Build your self-esteem. Search 'self-esteem' on Mind's website for more information.
Celebrate yourself. Write down your achievements and the things you like about yourself, however small. If someone compliments you, make a note of it.
Do things just for yourself. Whether it's spending half an hour reading a book, doing a hobby or taking up a new one, try to regularly make time to do the things you enjoy.
Connect to other people
Seek support. If you're not already receiving support or don't feel the support you have is helpful, take a look at our page on support for suicidal feelings.
Let others know how you're feeling. Tell people what you find helpful and let them know when you are finding things difficult. It's okay to ask others to be with you if you need them.
Volunteer. Giving your time to help others can be rewarding. It can build confidence and help remind you that you are appreciated and needed by others.
Try peer support. It can be helpful to talk with others who have experienced suicidal feelings. Contact your local Mind to find what peer services are available locally. You can also access peer support online. Being suicidal is nothing short of a nightmare so it is essential that you tell someone.
Look after your wellbeing
Get enough sleep. Learn to relax before bed.
If you are having trouble sleeping, search 'sleep problems' on Mind's website for more information.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Stopping or reducing your use of drugs and/or alcohol will help you feel more in control of your thoughts, and make it easier to rationalise your feelings.
Eat well. Eating regular healthy meals can make a big difference to your overall sense of wellbeing.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress - such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means 'bouncing back' from difficult experiences.
Research has shown that resiliance is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resillience. One example is the response of many Americans to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and individuals' efforts to rebuild their lives.
Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn't experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.
Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.