Self-Help For Anxiety

NHS

If you have generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), there are many ways to help ease the symptoms of anxiety yourself.

Try a book or online course

There are lots of books and courses that can help you learn to cope with your anxiety. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends trying treatments based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

CBT is a type of psychological treatment that can help you manage your anxiety by changing negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviour.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, may help you combat stress and release tension. It also encourages your brain to release serotonin, which can improve your mood.

Examples of good aerobic exercises include:

  • walking fast or jogging
  • swimming
  • cycling
  • tennis
  • hiking
  • football or rugby
  • aerobics

You should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Moderate-intensity exercise should raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster.

Learn to relax

As well as regular exercise, learning how to relax is important. You may find relaxation and breathing exercises helpful, or you may prefer activities such as yoga or pilates to help you unwind.

You can also try listening to this 6-minute anxiety control training audio guide.

Avoid caffeine

Drinking too much caffeine can make you more anxious than normal. This is because caffeine can disrupt your sleep and also speed up your heartbeat.

If you're tired, you're less likely to be able to control your anxious feelings. Avoiding drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and energy drinks, may help reduce your anxiety levels.

Healthy living

Taking steps to enjoy a healthier lifestyle can help boost both your physical and mental health which can also help combat feelings of anxiety.

Steps you can take include:

  • take regular exercise
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
  • quit smoking if you smoke
  • drink alcohol in moderation and stick to the recommended unit consumption levels

Contact support groups

Support groups can give you advice on how to manage your anxiety. They're also a good way to meet other people with similar experiences. Examples of support groups you may find useful include:

Support groups can often arrange face-to-face meetings, where you can talk about your difficulties and problems with other people. Many support groups also provide support and guidance over the phone or in writing.

Ask your GP about local support groups for anxiety in your area, or search online for mental health information and support services near you.

Useful resources

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Moodpath: Depression and Anxiety is a written mood journal that uses progress reports and...
Guided meditations
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SuperBetter is a tool created by game designers to help you build resilience and get...

Helplines & Web Chats

Samaritans
Action Mental Health
Association for Post-Natal Illness Helpline
Aware NI - Support Groups
Aware NI - Online Support Groups
Mind - Side by Side Online Community