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Anxiety and stress


Most of us experience stress and anxiety at some point in our lives. These are normal if not particularly pleasant feelings.  Stress is a way we respond to an external pressure such as a change in our lives, a tight deadline, an argument, an exam or some bad news. Anxiety is one way we react to the stress we are feeling but unlike stress, anxiety can persist even after the cause has disappeared. At times we might feel anxiety even if we cannot identify a particular reason for it.



Because we all have stress in our lives we should accept that anxiety is a normal and natural response. People will react differently when anxious and typical symptoms include:


fast breathing or trouble in breathing

feeling irritable

increased blood pressure

intrusive thoughts

lack of concentration


panic attacks

rapid or irregular heartbeats


trouble sleeping


If these feelings are very strong or are lasting a long time, they can affect our day-to-day lives and feel overwhelming. In severe cases, anxiety can develop into an anxiety disorder.


As well as physical symptoms you may notice that you have what are called psychological and behavioural changes as well.


Psychological changes include feeling:


you might be losing control and on edge all the time

you might be unwell

you want to escape from your current situation

Behavioural changes can include:

becoming withdrawn or erratic

seek safer options and avoiding risk

seeking reassurance from others more often

struggling to keep on top of you workload

wanting to avoid any situation that makes you feel anxious



Five tips for managing anxiety


There are ways we can manage our anxiety and you might find that recognising the feelings and trying some self-care methods help you cope with any symptoms.


1.     Talk to someone you trust

It is tempting to keep our feelings to ourselves but sometimes talking to a friend or family member can help. Talking with a professional, GP and/or a counsellor can be highly beneficial as they are skilled and experienced in helping people with anxiety.  Talking to a counsellor can help you understand what might be causing your anxiety and exploring coping techniques.


2.     Activity and healthy eating habits

Too many stimulants will make it difficult for you to relax and staying active can help you manage your anxiety. This does not have to mean embarking on a new diet or a workout regime, but just eating healthily and keeping active as a way of improving your overall well-being and feeling better about yourself.


3.     Focus on your breathing at times of stress

When feeling anxious try taking a moment to focus solely on your breath can calm you and help you manage the anxiety.   


4.     Mindfulness exercises

There are now plenty of exercises available to teach you how to focus your awareness on the present moment and accept your thoughts, feelings and sensations. In turn this can help you recognise what triggers your anxiety and may help to reduce negative feelings.


5.     Take note of your feelings

You might want to keep a diary and record your feelings and to help you become more aware of your triggers. You can also record when you feel you have managed or controlled your feelings.

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