We all feel anxiety - a natural response to the threat of danger. With help, it can be more manageable.

Moderate levels of anxiety can help us perform well in certain situations, such as job interviews or exams. However, excessive anxiety over a prolonged period, anxiety triggered by harmless situations or with no apparent cause, can become problematic. 

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and how you behave. It's not always easy to recognise when anxiety is the reason you're feeling or acting differently.

  • Physical symptoms could include: a faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat, feeling lightheaded and dizzy, headaches, chest pains, and a loss of appetite.
  • Mental symptoms could include: feeling tense or nervous, being unable to relax, worrying about the past or future, feeling tearful, and not being able to sleep.
  • Changes in behaviour could include: not being able to enjoy your leisure time, difficulty looking after yourself, problems concentrating at work, struggling to form or maintain relationships, and being worried about trying new things. 

Reducing anxiety

It’s natural for you to want to escape from difficult situations or avoid them altogether. However, this will only increase anxiety in the long run. Take control by:

  • looking after yourself physically
  • eating a balanced diet
  • reducing alcohol, caffeine and smoking
  • taking regular exercise (swimming is particularly good)
  • writing a list of all the things that are bothering you and looking at how you might use the skills you have to address them
  • distracting yourself with music, talking to a friend or doing a physical activity that you enjoy