A guide to managing 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 think we are under threat. Most people feel anxious sometimes. 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.

Living with anxiety can be very difficult, but there are steps you can take that might help. Try our Quick Read (if you’re in a hurry) or Detailed Read (if you’ve more time) for more information.

Anxiety can affect your mind and body, if you find that anxiety is affecting your ability to cope with day to day life you should contact your doctor or health practitioner for support and treatment.

Quick read

  • Talk to someone you trust. Having someone listen to you can help relieve feelings of anxiety. If you can’t talk to someone you know, contact a charity or organisation that offers a helpline or peer support group.
  • Try to manage your worries. If you’re suffering from anxiety it can be difficult to stop worrying about things that are on your mind. Try setting aside a time to think about your worries or, you could try writing them down.
  • Look after yourself. Physical exercise, a balanced diet, time spent outdoors and sleep can all help manage anxiety levels. <<Find out more about how to improve your sleep here>>.
  • Breathe. Breathing exercises can help you relieve the physical and mental effects of anxiety. There are plenty of apps to help you, have a look online for the app that suits you.
  • Keep a diary. Writing down what makes you feel anxious, as well as the things that are going well, can help you spot patterns and understand what triggers your anxiety.
  • Try a complementary therapy – some people find that yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, herbal treatments or hypnotherapy help them to relax or to sleep better.

Detailed read

Anxiety and panic attacks

This resource explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

What is anxiety?

What is the 'fight, flight or freeze' response?

Like all animals, human beings have evolved ways to help us protect ourselves from danger. When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones:

  • make us feel more alert, so we can act faster
  • make our hearts beat faster, quickly sending blood to where it's needed most.

After we feel the threat has passed, our bodies release other hormones to help our muscles relax. This can sometimes cause us to shake.

This is commonly called the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response – it’s something that happens automatically in our bodies, and we have no control over it.