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Managing your anxiety

Asking these questions can help you to gain an understanding of what situations trigger your anxiety:

  1. When is it worse and when is it more manageable?
  2. What helps and what doesn’t?
  3. What behaviour is keeping your anxiety going, for example avoiding situations?

It can also help to keep a diary to spot patterns.


Breathing slowly is one of the most helpful skills when you’re experiencing anxiety. Try using a count of 3-in, 1-hold, 4-out to start off. Breathe into your belly rather than into your chest. This will help the body calm down quickly. Try practising this daily.

The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method is a calming technique that can be helpful to use in a stressful situation or when there is an increase in symptoms of anxiety. This technique involves using the five senses in the following way:

  1. Start by slowly breathing in and out
  2. SEE: look around for 5 things you can see and say them out aloud. For example, you could say, I see the television, I see the mug or I see the yellow car outside
  3. TOUCH: think of 4 things you can feel and say them out aloud. For example, you could say, I feel the woolly socks on my feet, I feel the sunshine on my back, or I feel the wooden chair I am sitting on
  4. SOUNDS: listen for 3 sounds that you can hear and say them aloud. This could be the sound of the birds tweeting outside, the music on the radio or the cars driving past
  5. SMELL: think of 2 things you can smell. If you can’t smell anything, then you can think of two of your favourite smells, such as freshly baked cookies or your favourite perfume/aftershave
  6. TASTE: think of 1 thing you can taste and say it out aloud. If you can’t taste anything, you can say some of your favourite tastes, such as chocolate or mints
  7. Finish by slowly breathing in and out

Avoidance of fears in the short term can reduce symptoms of anxiety. However, in the long-term, it can contribute to the maintenance of anxiety. Creating a step by step plan to face your fears is a good way to reduce anxiety. This involves breaking down a challenge or goal into small, manageable steps that feel achievable, and then trying out the steps.

To start this, make a plan to slowly and gradually do the things you would normally avoid. For example, a common fear is having to talk in public. This could be broken down by practising alone, then in front of a mirror, then practising in front of family members, then practising in front of friends or a teacher before giving the talk.

When you feel anxious, having coping statements on hand can help you challenge your thoughts. For example, “If I get anxious, I will try some calm breathing”, “I just need to do my best”, “I can do it”, “I am not weak for having anxiety, everyone experiences anxiety”, “I’m strong for challenging myself to face the things that scare me”.

Try reducing your stress by introducing daily enjoyable activities, small things such as watching a good TV programme, going for a bike ride, playing a computer or board game with others.

When problems arise break the solution down into steps, think about different options, and never be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Talking about anxiety can be really hard for some people. However, it’s really helpful to talk about your feelings and challenges with someone you can trust. We’re here if you need us and there’s lots of support available in your area. 

You can find information about this in the ‘Local Offer’.