How to deal with anxiety - tips from a psychologist & real people who manage anxiety

How to deal with anxiety - tips from a psychologist & real people who manage anxiety

At lifted our goal is to help maintain your mental wellbeing by supporting you to develop and keep up healthy habits. We’re filling this little space of the web with tips, expert advice, interviews and real life experiences from our community to help you navigate busy lives, anxiety and stress. We want to help you find that dreamy balance that you deserve!

Similarly, our product collection is building with the same aim. Each item is carefully crafted with sustainability, quality and your wellbeing in mind.

With all of this, we also recognise that sometimes healthy habits and maintenance aren’t enough. Now and then everything might get a bit overwhelming and we need more support. In fact, a recent study found that 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. If this is you, and you’re thinking “don’t tell me yoga is going to solve all my problems!” don’t worry, you’re not alone... 

Today we’re breaking down anxiety, sharing some of our own & our communities’ experiences and tips, alongside 5 bits of actionable advice from a psychologist.

What is anxiety? 

Anxiety is actually a completely normal human experience that everyone feels at various points in life. If you’ve ever had an exam or been through a stressful period, that little pang of unease, feeling tense, afraid or worried - that’s anxiety. 

It only gets problematic when it spirals into being difficult for you to control, out of proportion to the situation or is interfering with your daily life. My own experience of anxiety led to a month where I was scared to leave the house alone for fear of having a panic attack, so you could say it was getting in the way.

The question is, what gets you from that point to back feeling like a normal, functioning human? As reassurance, it’s very possible - a few months later I was travelling across the world on a solo trip, so don’t worry if you’re struggling, it will get better!

Below, myself and others from the lifted community have shared experiences, tips and tricks for dealing with anxiety:  


Tips & tricks from real people who have struggled with anxiety: 

Last year I ran a couple of focus groups on the topic of anxiety with lifted community members. The group were kind enough to share personal stories of their experiences and the things that work best for them in managing their body’s anxiety response.

A theme emerged of what an ‘anxiety journey’ looked like. I’ve described this below and shared how our community members dealt with it at each point. 

Something to note is that everyone in this group had experienced high levels of anxiety on multiple occasions and therefore through trial and error and seeking help had figured out a way to deal with each stage that worked for them. 

Stage 1: peak anxiety

Something would peak their anxiety levels, this trigger ranged from a one off event to a build up of smaller things until they were overwhelmed. Below are some of the words and phrases the group used to describe their experience: 

“I’m irritable with everyone”, “tense”, “I’m having negative thoughts & catastrophising”, “I struggle sleeping”, “I’m feeling out of control”, “hyper-fixating”, “obsessing”, “I can’t think about anything else”

Some of the group also experienced panic attacks:

“it would be really physical for me”, “struggle to breath”, “shaking hands”, “ringing in my ear”, “sweaty”, “my body tightened up”, “pins and needles”, “a dry mouth”, “fixated on my breathing”, “it felt like I was having a heart attack” 

[Pausing to bring you back into the moment in case this is triggering - these are very descriptive words, so just a reminder that you’re reading a blog and you’re safe <3. Read on for coping methods]

Dealing with stage 1, tips from the lifted community:

  1. “I remind myself that the physical symptoms I’m feeling aren’t dangerous and they do pass. Panic attacks aren’t dangerous even though they feel really serious when you’re having them.”
  2. “I try and calm my physical symptoms first, for me this is breathing in and out of my nose and making sure my out breaths are longer than my in breaths - this calms the body down and a doctor once told me it’s really hard to be in a state of hyperventilation when you’re breathing through your nose”
  3. “I try and bring myself back to the present moment, I crouch down to the floor because I find the cold of the floor calming. I will look around for colour or sound and try and focus on that”
  4. “I have a bobble on my wrist that I ping to create a sensation that distracts me”
  5. “I try to connect with someone who will calm me, I speak with my boyfriend or one of my good friends/family. I actually had a panic attack on a train once and spoke to some kind strangers around me who helped distract/reassure me while the sensations passed”.

Stage 2: dealing with anxiety

The physical symptoms have passed or quietened and therefore everyone had a bit of space to address the overwhelm. This phase was around seeking support or using techniques and methods they had learnt from family, friends, therapists and online resources.

“At this point it’s about introspection for me and asking ‘what’s led to this?’”, “I want a hug and reassurance, just to feel okay, safe and held”, “I go back to notes from therapy or techniques I’ve learnt to deal with anxiety”, “I schedule a call with my therapist”, “I chat to friends and family”, “I just have a big cry to let all the emotions out!”, “I try and put a good routine in place and focus on little wins and self-care”, “in the extreme I’ve spoken to doctors about medication when I’m really struggling, but it’s not a long term solution for me”

Dealing with stage 2, tips from the lifted community:

  1. “Be kind to yourself, seek support from family, friends, partners or a professional. Allow yourself to feel and let the emotions out because extreme anxiety is emotional and exhausting.”
  2. “I focus on challenging any irrational thoughts that have led to my anxiety spiral, this is a CBT technique and is really helpful” (video explanation here)
  3. “I journal a lot at this point to understand what the root cause has been and try and see how I can address it. Here I’m only focusing on things that are within my control”
  4. “I have a few apps that I really like, bloom is one of my favourites which has a journaling space and specific ‘programmes’ around stress and anxiety. I also use CALM for meditation.”
  5. “I would really recommend talking to a professional if you’re experiencing this for the first time, there are so many coping techniques out there that are really helpful to know about and through trial and error you find the best for you. I also couldn’t recommend therapy enough, it’s a game changer”
  6. “When I had panic attacks the NHS actually sent me a guidebook that was about exposing myself to the symptoms I had during a panic attack in a safe space to prove that they don’t lead to anything dangerous. This was really horrible in the moment, but made me more okay with the concept of having a panic attack and less focused on avoiding having another (which was something that had ended up triggering them)”

Stage 3: conscious mind management 

By stage 3 everyone was feeling back to normal but were aware of the benefits and need to prioritise self-care, reducing stress and maintaining their mental wellbeing.

“It’s a daily practice”, “it’s about keeping up healthy habits - exercise, getting outside, eating well, prioritising me-time”, “having check-ins with myself, making sure I’m being conscious about relaxation”, “it’s hard to maintain a routine, especially when you’re feeling okay, but you know about it if you ignore self-care for too long!”

Hopefully hearing these experiences and the tips from our community have been helpful for you, do let us know in the comments if you have anything else to add! 

Below we’re wrapping up with 5 top tips from a fab psychologist in our community, Juandri Buitendag and you can find links to useful resources at the bottom. 

5 bits of actionable advice from a psychologist:

  1. My first piece of advice is always to psycho-educate ourselves around our symptoms of anxiety. Understanding the physiological effect will help our irrational brains quieten down a bit. Helping us understand that at its core, anxiety is an irrational overestimation of the risks in our mind and an underestimation of our ability and resources to deal with it.
  1. Understand and connect with the resources we have to deal with anxiety. Everyone’s resources may be different, however what has been proven time and time again, is that we need to deal with anxiety as a daily practice rather than a reactive practice. Starting to bring in daily mindfulness even when it feels like it isn’t helping at the time. (i.e. daily breathing, yoga, quiet meditations, body scans, muscle relaxations, journaling)
  1. The only difference- physiologically, that your body is going through when you’re on a run compared to an anxiety spiral – is your mind. When you notice yourself physiologically feeling a bit more anxious, one of the best things you can do is fight it with a positive behavioural action like doing a few jumping jacks, jumping squats, a quick sprint, something to intentionally increase the heart rate in a positive way. 
  1. Don’t disregard the simple small things, they make BIG changes psychologically. Cold showers (20 seconds - 3 minutes) a day helps with physiological effects of anxiety or panic attacks.
  1. Microskills like distraction are very useful as a reactive technique. Anything that can pull your mind out of a spiral, a quick game on your phone, focussing on reading something, diaphragmatic breathing, a guided mindfulness exercise (can find lots on youtube.)

Let us know if this was useful and share any extra tips you might have in the comments! If you're struggling with anxiety, we've shared some additional resources below. 



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