Reduce unreasonable stress factors in your everyday routine
If there are things in your life that produce anxiety and which can be changed, you should do this yourself, or enlist the help of others to do it. This applies to exposure to bullying at your place of study or in the workplace, for example.
Write down your thoughts of impending disaster
You can write a list of your usual thoughts of impending disaster and your more rational thoughts to counter these. You should do this at a time when your anxiety level is low, and you should keep the list handy so it is easy to find when your anxiety is aroused.
Seek out what you avoid because of your anxiety disorder
You can work with both flight and avoidance through exposure. This means exposing yourself to the things you otherwise try to avoid or flee from. It is a good idea to set yourself some targets for the things you would like to be able to participate in and do. Then you can approach your goal step by step by setting yourself tasks. These tasks must not arouse either excessive anxiety or too little anxiety – they must be somewhere in between.
Let go of your “safety behaviour”
When you are going to work on your safety behaviour, you need to notice the things and people you use to gain a sense of security. Then you must try to stop using them, so that you can experience managing a task on your own. It is best to start with “easy” situations so that you experience small amounts of progress all the time and gradually grow in confidence.
Focus on the situation rather than on yourself
When a person is anxious, there can be a tendency to draw attention to oneself, e.g. the person blushes or breathes faster and his/her heart races. You can practise directing the attention away from yourself and onto what is going on apart from you.
Participate in social activities
Precisely because social activities can seem to cause anxiety, many anxiety sufferers isolate themselves and avoid being around other people or being in the company of others. This is a vicious circle, because avoidance maintains thoughts that the person cannot be around others. These thoughts become entrenched as time goes by. To help maintain contact with other people, you can make a pact with yourself that you will never say “No, thank you” to an invitation. You can always make do with just going along for a couple of hours.
Consider how much you want to say and who you want to tell about your disorder
Some anxiety sufferers find it very beneficial to tell other people that theyhave an anxiety disorder. They find that many others have the same problems themselves, or know someone who does, and they encounter understanding and interest. Others prefer to keep their problems private, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, you should always consider whether efforts to conceal your problems are contributing to aggravating them.
Take your need for sleep seriously
Anxiety is the worst enemy of sleep, which is why anxiety and disrupted sleep often go hand in hand. It can be difficult to get to sleep if you are tormented by restlessness and worries – and when you finally do fall asleep, you might find you wake up in the middle of the night with an anxiety attack or a nightmare. Lack of sleep reinforces anxiety during the day, and this can easily develop into a vicious circle. This is why it is important to take your sleep seriously and to seek help if you have chronic sleeping problems.
Follow the dietary advice of the Danish Health and Medicines Authority
No diets or dietary supplements will cure anxiety, but healthy eating is good for a person’s general well-being. During periods of anxiety and worry, it is easy to slip into unhealthy habits, such as overeating, or eating sweet or fatty foods. It may seem comforting and calming at the time, but it can also result in weight gain and low self-confidence. Coffee, tea and cola contain caffeine, which has a stimulating effect, but caffeine can also produce palpitations and increase the feeling of anxiety and nervousness.
Avoid alcohol, marijuana and other substances
Alcohol can soothe and calm a person, but only temporarily. The nervousness and anxiety the person is trying to suppress will only be aggravated by alcohol, and more and more alcohol will be needed to soothe the increasing anxiety and nervousness. It is not a big step from this to actual alcohol abuse. For this reason, all use of substances must be avoided, and alcohol must be kept within the Danish Health and Medicines Authority’s limits (max. 7 units a week for women, and max. 14 for men).
Anxiety can also lead to starting smoking or increasing tobacco consumption. Smoking is not advisable anyway, as it is very harmful to health. Combined with anxiety, smoking can even aggravate the feeling of anxiety: nicotine releases adrenalin, which puts the body in a state of readiness for an emergency and causes the heart to beat faster.
Get some exercise
A high pulse rate and palpitations can cause so much anxiety that the person stops exercising entirely. That is an extremely bad idea. Exercise is not only good for the body; it is also very good for the mind. When we exercise, the body releases a number of hormones and neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which mitigate stress and discomfort and increase the feeling of well-being. At the same time, exercise provides a number of positive experiences of increased pulse rate, racing heart, reddening of the face, outbreaks of perspiration, etc. – things that are otherwise often associated with something negative when a person is anxious. Experiencing these symptoms as something completely natural is a good thing.
Seek professional help
There is a lot you can do for yourself, but sometimes battling on your own to feel better is not enough. There is nothing at all unusual about needing treatment for an anxiety disorder.