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Mental Health

How To Reduce Overwhelming Feelings of Anxiety

Feelings of anxiety come and go depending on what is going on in your life at that moment. 

It is normal to experience these feelings, especially if you are at a time in your life when there are a lot of things going on or changing around you. 

Feelings of anxiety can include feelings of nervousness, restlessness or tension. It can also manifest itself physically as stomach-churning, feeling light-headed or faster breathing.

It is when these feelings begin to become a regular occurrence or overwhelming that there is a problem. 

There are many ways to help yourself to calm down when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. 

Tidy space, tidy mind

The first place to start when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety is the personal space that you live or work in.

If you keep your living and workspace free of clutter, you will feel less anxious. This is because you will have less distractions around you when you are trying to do something. 

The more stimulus you have around you while trying to concentrate on one thing can cause feelings of anxiety as the clutter around you will be competing for your attention. 

Tidying up your space can give you a feeling of accomplishment and also provide you with time to be planning for a task that you might have coming up. 

Exercise

Exercising regularly is a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety. 

During exercise your brain will produce hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, making you feel more energised and less stressed. Dopamine is essential for regulating your mood and helps you to feel pleasure. 

Engaging in simple yet fun exercises such as a bike ride, walk or even a slow jog will allow you to feel an overall sense of well-being because of the hormones released. 

Although it may be difficult to take the first step, exercising when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety allows you to escape from reality and whatever is causing you to feel anxious.

As well as this escape from reality, the chances that you will still feel overwhelmed once you have finished exercising are very slim. 

Breathe

As simple as it is, taking some deep breaths can be beneficial when you are feeling overwhelmed. 

In order to do this correctly, inhale slowly through your nose while trying to keep your shoulders relaxed. 

As you exhale, do so slowly and slightly purse your lips. Aim to keep your jaw relaxed and, if you want to, let a slight sigh noise out on the exhale. 

Repeat this until you start to feel better, which should be within a few minutes. 

Breathing in this way causes your nervous system to relax, helping you to calm down. 

If we can tell kids to take a few deep breaths during a tantrum, then we can take our own advice and at least give it a try. 

Self-help book 

A self-help book is a great way to get tips and tricks for dealing with your feelings of anxiety and on how to live an anxious-free life. 

There are a wide variety of self-help books dedicated to anxiety. 

Some will outline different situations and tell you ways that you can reduce anxiety in those specific situations. An example of this kind is ‘The Anxiety Toolkit’ by Alice Boyes, PhD.

Others will take a more scientific approach, explaining the inner workings of the brain which allows you to understand the science behind the feeling.

‘The Worry Trick’ by David A. Carbonell, PhD is a great example of a self-help book that outlines the science behind anxiety. Understanding this can allow you to take back control of your life. 

If you have feelings of anxiety that persist and occur on a daily basis or if you experience panic attacks from anxiety, you should definitely seek professional help. 

Speak to your GP or a registered counsellor or psychologist about your feelings so that you can get the help that you need to recover. 

If speaking with a professional is not an option for you, speaking with a friend, family member or even stranger may be an option for you. 

Sometimes expressing your feelings can lift a weight from your shoulders and make you feel a sense of relief. 

If this isn’t an option for you either, reaching out to a helpline might be better suited to you.

There are many different helplines across Ireland that people suffering with anxiety can reach out to at any time of the day or night. 

Texting ‘HELLO’ to 50808 will get you in touch with a trained volunteer via a messaging service that is there to provide you with a safe space that you are listened to in. 

The messaging service is free of charge and anonymous. 

People who are with service providers including 48, An Post or Clear mobile can avail of this service by texting ‘HELLO’ to 0861800280.

Final-year journalism student. Kilkenny/Dublin based.
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