According to the charity, Anxiety UK, anxiety affects one in six adults living in the UK. Anxiety is the term used to describe the physical and emotional sensation of fear or nervousness. You will be more prone to it's effects at times of stress, during and after a traumatic experience or when you are in a situation that scares you or makes you fear for your safety.  

Some of the main symptoms include shortness of breath, palpitations, upset stomach, dry mouth, sweaty palms and tense muscles. You may experience emotional symptoms like feeling tearful, overwhelmed and panicky. For the sufferer these can be difficult to explain and hard to manage. Below are some tips you can try if you are feeling stressed or anxious, or you are supporting someone experiencing anxiety.

Tense and relax muscles

Working through the body focusing on one body part at a time try and tense those muscles. Hold the tension for a count of 3 and then let it go and let the muscles relax. The best way to do this is to work systematically up the body from the feet, or if you prefer, down from the head. You can do this exercise while lying down or you can remain seated or even standing. The important part is to try and keep you focus on one body part at a time.

Write it down

You can use a diary, notepad or something like the thought records in the worksheets section of this site to record you thoughts and worries. Thought records are especially helpful as they provide a format for unpicking the anxiety or worry and allow the individual to look for evidence that supports the belief or challenges it.

Deep breathing

Your lungs are made up of four parts the top sections of the left and right lobes and the corresponding bottom sections. When we are anxious we are often only breathing with the top parts and therefore only using a fraction of the lungs capacity. Try to practise breathing exercises where you consciously pull the air down to the bottom parts of the lung.  You can do this by pushing your tummy out with your in breath and sucking it in again on the out breath. Breath in and try and hold the breath for a count of 10. Now slowly exhale to the count of 5. This technique can seem a little strange at first but with practice it becomes easier.  By increasing the amount of air in our body we are providing the brain with more oxygen and therefore allowing it to work more effectively.


Sometimes changing your focus can really help. Find and activity that you enjoy and that will hold your attention.  This may feel hard initially so be patient with yourself. The distraction will take your attention away from the source of anxiety and allow you to calm down. Make sure the distraction method you use is not going to cause you more stress. Try activities like playing games, a creative hobby, a sport or going for a walk in the fresh air, a small chore that needs doing or watching tv or a film. By giving your mind something else to focus on you are giving your body and emotions time to settle and relax.

Talk to someone

Find someone who can be relied upon to stay calm themselves and who won't judge you or try to minimise your concerns. If you are the person doing the listening, be patient and try to avoid interrupting the person while they talk. Avoid actively fixing the problem and allow the other person to explore their options and find a solution that’s right for them. If you're finding it difficult confiding in a friend or loved one there are a number of charities offering support with anxiety and stress such as Anxiety UK, OCD Action and No Panic. If you prefer talking to someone face to face then a chat with your doctor may help. Many GP practices offer counselling services or will be able to refer you to other services if they don't offer it themselves. You can also find a registered and BACP Accredited counsellor in your area by visiting  It's Good to Talk.