Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show anxiety levels have increased sharply, particularly in women. In 2022/23 37.1% women reported high anxiety levels compared to 29.9% of men, these are considerably higher than statistics from 2012-15 where 21.8% of women and 18.3% of men reported high anxiety levels.
How do you act when you are anxious? People generally fall into one of two camps and recognising this can be helpful. When you are anxious do you spring into action and do, do, do, or do you feel like a rabbit in the headlights and stop taking action altogether?
Here are a few tips that can help when you are feeling anxious:
- Focus on the rising & falling of your breath even just for a minute. This triggers our parasympathetic system and lowers cortisol levels.
- Rub your hands together and focus on the feeling. It sounds crazy but I promise you it works. It releases soothing brain waves.
- Go for a walk in nature. As Dr Bill Mitchell puts it in his book "Time to Breathe", "Walking and being in nature should not be underestimated for their stabilising effects on our physiology and mental health. Walking, particularly in nature rather than on a treadmill or through busy streets gives us other benefits. I see walking akin to meditation. It can help us make sense of difficulties, settle our minds, be creative. Walking is meditation on the move." Even just a 10 or 15 minute walk in nature has a calming effect. If you can’t go for a walk, look out the window or at images of nature on your computer.
- Write down the things you are worried about. Research into the benefits of writing shows it helps us process our thoughts & emotions.
- Take 5 minutes to stroke a pet. They will enjoy it and it will relax you too.
- Work out the things you can control in a situation and focus on those.
- Tell yourself you feel anxious, not that you are anxious. This is an important distinction. When you recognise anxiety as a feeling, this is something that will pass. When you see yourself as anxious, you are taking it on as part of your identity.