More than two million Australians suffer from anxiety. To mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we asked Beyondblue for tips on how to manage when stress strikes.
- Slow down your breathing. When you’re anxious your breathing becomes faster and more shallow, which means you’re exhaling carbon dioxide more quickly than is ideal. This triggers greater feelings of anxiety. To combat that, count to three as you breathe in then count to three as you breathe out. Make your breath out as long as your breath in.
- Challenge your inner dialogue. Try to imagine different interpretations of a situation that’s making you anxious, rather than jumping to the worst-case scenario.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Things like exercise, good nutrition, reduced stress and adequate sleep can make a big difference in helping you manage anxiety, as can spending time in nature and connecting with people you like.
- Learn from others. Talking with others who also experience anxiety can help you feel less isolated in your experience. Support groups or online forums can be safe spaces to get help and you can also visit beyondblue.org.au.
- Stay in the moment. Anxiety makes you worry about a terrible future that hasn’t actually happened. Try to bring yourself back to where you are right now. Do this by noticing five things you can hear, five things you can see and five things you can touch.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s important to remember that chronic anxiety is a health condition, and it doesn’t define you. You are not your anxiety.
- Focus on what you can control. Can you do anything right now about what’s making you anxious? Resist letting anxiety take up your energy and instead focus on what you do have influence over.
- Get to know your anxiety. Keep a diary of when it’s mild, through to when it gets more severe. This can help you find patterns and plan your days or weeks to proactively manage your anxiety.
- Practise small acts of bravery. Avoiding what makes you anxious may provide short-term relief, but can add to your anxiety in the long run. Even if it’s something small, approaching something that makes you anxious gives you a win and something to build on.
- Schedule your worry. It’s hard to stop worrying entirely, so set aside a designated time to indulge your worries. Even 10 minutes each evening can stop your worries from taking over at other times.
If you’re unsure whether you’re suffering from anxiety, take a look at this anxiety and depression checklist, or consult your healthcare professional.