8 helpful ways to cope with anxiety

Anxiety is on the increase as more of us feel overwhelmed by stress in our daily lives. Here’s what you can do to help yourself and loved ones who are suffering.

Around one in 20 people are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, while one in 10 have mixed anxiety and depression.

[Read more: McFly’s Harry Judd: Anxiety made everything overwhelming]

Mental health charity Mind explains that if the symptoms are not dealt with, they can have a huge impact on everyday life. Resulting depression, sleeping problems and a lowered immune system can all make it difficult to hold down jobs, maintain relationships and enjoy life in general.

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stephen Buckley, head of information for Mind, says: “Being under pressure is a normal part of life. It can be a useful drive that helps you take action, feel more energised and get results.

“But if you often become overwhelmed by stress, then these feelings could start to be a problem and can cause mental health problems like anxiety.

“We all know what it’s like to feel on an even keel. But if your feelings of anxiety are very strong or affecting your ability to live your life the way you’d like to, it's time to reach out for support.”

Mind’s Stephen Buckley has the following tips for dealing with anxiety.

1. Tell someone

If you feel that you may have anxiety, it is important to speak to someone, such as your GP or friend or family member, as soon as possible so you are not alone in dealing with it and can get the right help and support.

2. Exercise

Exercise is good for your mind as well as your body. Regular exercise will lift your mood, help you sleep better, and give you more energy, and it’s also proven to be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.

3. Eat well

Make sure you get a balanced and healthy diet including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as these are proven to lift mood. Stimulants like sugar, caffeine and alcohol can make feelings of anxiety and stress worse, and leave you feeling lethargic.

Eating lots of foods high in fat and carbohydrate can often cause blood sugar to crash, resulting in sluggishness.

[Read more: Here's why snacking on nuts could help you live longer]

4. Get outside

Findings from the University of Essex show that getting into an outdoor space can improve mental health, boost self-esteem, improve physical health, and reduce social isolation.

This could include gardening, an outdoor sport or even just a stroll in the park.

5. Practise mindfulness





Mindfulness can help us better understand our thoughts and feelings.

It’s really easy to rush through life on auto-pilot, not really taking in our surroundings – missing out on the good means life isn't as rich as it might be, and missing out on the bad means we're not in such a good position to take action.

6. Sleep well

Not getting enough sleep can affect our mental wellbeing and quality of life.

Electrical devices like TVs and smartphones stimulate the brain, making it harder to sleep, try switching off and creating a calm space.

[Read more: Insomnia: 7 alternative ways to cure your sleep worries]

7. Find support online

Lots of people also find online forums helpful, particularly if they are unable to confide in friends or don’t have strong social networks.

We would encourage those people to visit online peer support networks like Mind’s Elefriends website where people can discuss their problems with others who are going through similar experiences and talk about potential solutions.

8.And remember, it’s OK to cry…

Juliette Burton, 30, is a writer and performer who has experienced anxiety since she was very young.

She says: “I have lots of ways of coping with my anxiety, but sometimes I find the best way is simply to be in touch with what I’m feeling at that moment and have a good cry about it. Just having a good sob can help me accept my anxiety and move forward.”

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