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What is Anxiety Self-Help?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated May 17, 2024
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Living with anxiety or an anxiety disorder can be extremely debilitating. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks come without warning, and the general feeling of constant anxiety that is common to the disorder causes enormous amounts of stress. Getting professional help to deal with anxiety can be very beneficial, and people who suffer from this problem will find that anxiety self-help tips are worthwhile too.

Constant feelings of anxiety can lead to the development of worrying and even painful physical symptoms. Almost everyone feels anxiety during stressful or tense moments in their lives, and may have symptoms such as a dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach. For people with an anxiety disorder, these sorts of symptoms are commonplace, and are often experienced every day. In addition, symptoms such as tachycardia, tension headaches, insomnia, and stomach cramps, are common occurrences.

Getting professional help for anxiety disorder is the best option for some people, but the importance of anxiety self-help cannot be overstated. Anyone who frequently has mild or severe symptoms of anxiety will need to learn how to cope with these symptoms on a day-to-day basis. This is where anxiety self-help comes in. By learning self-help techniques, people with anxiety disorders can learn how to minimize the negative effects of the disorder, and return as much as possible to normal living.

Some people find it beneficial to join an anxiety self-help group to develop a wider support network and get more tips on coping with anxiety. The group approach isn’t for everyone, however; for some people, the thought of joining a self-help group simply causes more anxiety. Luckily, there is no single “best” way to cope with an anxiety disorder, and there are many other self-help methods to try.

Many people with anxiety find that there are two very effective methods they can use to deal with anxious feelings as and when they arise. The advantage with these methods is that they can be done anywhere, even in public. The first is called progressive muscle relaxation, and involves alternately tensing and relaxing different muscle groups. For example, start at the feet, and then move to the calves, thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, and arms in succession.

Another easy anxiety self-help technique is deep breathing. This method is useful because the body’s natural reaction when faced with anxiety is to breathe more quickly. Often this can lead to feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, and breathlessness, and to more severe feelings of anxiety and even panic. When confronted with these feelings, the best way to deal with them is to slow down the breathing, and to breathe from the diaphragm instead of from the chest.

A simple way to learn this breathing technique is to place the hands on the stomach, then breathe in so that the stomach begins to swell. This ensures that breathing is initiated in the diaphragm, and right away produces slower, deeper breathes. At the same time, slow down breathing and count, so that it takes a count of five to inhale, and another count of five to exhale.

These physical anxiety self-help techniques work because they allow the individual to concentrate on something else besides his or her anxious thoughts. At the same time, the physical movement helps to use up excess adrenaline, a hormone which is involved in amplifying the anxiety response. The involvement of adrenaline in the anxiety response is one reason why regular physical exercise helps reduce symptoms of anxiety disorder.

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