Anxiety

Anxiety can feel debilitating, but there’s lots you can do to manage it. And if you don’t feel you can tackle your anxiety alone, there’s help available.

Use this action plan on anxiety to learn about the things you can start doing to control your anxiety.

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Take action on anxiety

Find out what you can do to manage the causes and symptoms of your anxiety. 

  • Read our guide to anxiety

    Understanding anxiety is your first step to managing it. If you haven’t already, read our guide to anxiety which will explain the types, symptoms and causes of this condition.
  • Book an appointment with your GP

    Make time to book an appointment with your GP.  If you think you have anxiety and it’s interfering with your daily life, your doctor will be able to help. Talking about your feelings might be difficult, but if you're as open as you can be, your GP will be able to work out whether or not you have an anxiety disorder and, if so, how severe it is.
     
    Your doctor will select any treatment based on the type of anxiety you might have.  The treatment could include self-help, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), applied relaxation, medication or a combination of these.
  • Talk to friends and family

    Think about which of your friends and family might be able to help.  Telling people close to you how you're feeling can be a big relief and might mean you feel more supported. And sometimes just having someone who can listen to you can help in itself. 
  • Speak to someone about getting counselling

    Speaking to a counsellor or a therapist can help you understand the cause of your anxiety and find ways to cope.

    There are different types of counselling and therapy (often called talking therapies), including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy, but they all have the same goal: to help you feel better able to cope with your emotions and the things that happen in your life. 
     
    You can access talking therapy through your GP, privately, or, if you’re working, through your employee assistance programme (EAP) if your employer has one. If your employer doesn't have an EAP, your HR team might be able to help. 

    Find out more about how to access counselling and other therapies
  • Get involved with a support group

    Making the decision to join an online support group will help you if you feel you need to talk about your anxiety to people going through a similar experience. 
     
    Anxiety UK has a list of independent self-help groups around the UK that you can access. 
     
    The mental health charity Mind also has a supportive online community, Elefriends, which can help provide online peer support. 
     
    If you are working ask for help in finding support networks from your HR team, your union rep, or your employee assistance programme (EAP).
  • Learn about relaxation techniques

    Take time out and learn how to relax using a recognised technique such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness.
     
    Our automatic response to anxiety is to tense up, so to give our body and mind a chance to recharge we need to find ways to relax. And some people find that complementary therapies like meditation, yoga or massage may help.

    Read about how to learn to relax.
  • Start writing a thought diary

    Spend a few minutes every day writing a diary to give yourself an opportunity to slow down and revisit those moments that might be contributing to your anxiety.
     
    The better you understand yourself, the more active you can be in dealing with those things that cause you to become anxious. Events, thoughts and conversations can seem to fly by during the day, leaving you with little time to reflect on them. By writing a diary you'll create a safe environment to describe not only what happened, but what you remember thinking or feeling. Reflecting on how you reacted to things, and how you felt about them, can provide you with insight into how you see yourself and the world around you.
  • Take steps to improve your sleep

    Learn good sleep habits and techniques to help you get enough sleep to help your mind and body rejuvenate.
     
    Sleep may seem like the least productive part of your day. But the opposite is true. Having enough sleep can improve your low mood and reduce anxiety. It also helps you think more clearly, have more energy, and feel better about life. Feeling anxious can mean you don't get enough sleep. And if you’re missing out on sleep, this can make you feel more anxious.

    Read about how to get a better night's sleep.
  • Cut down or give up smoking

    Take the decision to try and give up smoking, recognising that this will be hard you should seek advice from your GP and support from your friends and family.
     
    You may feel that smoking helps you control your anxiety. But while nicotine may give you short-term relief, it won’t help you manage your anxiety in fact it can make it worse. 
     
    Nicotine addiction actually causes a craving that feels very much like anxiety or stress. That relief from tension you feel when you smoke or vape is just relief from your nicotine withdrawal symptoms. And since the craving is so frequent, all you gain by smoking or vaping is yet another source of anxiety.

    Get tips to help you quit from Smokefree or call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044.

  • Cut back on alcohol

    Making the decision to cut back on alcohol can be hard so make sure you get support and help from your GP, friends and family.

    Alcohol may also seem to offer another short-term relief from anxiety, but it can sap your energy and interfere with your sleep. Having some drink-free days every week is a good way to rein things in. And if you find yourself drinking too much at the weekend, make a plan for Saturday or Sunday morning – meet a friend for breakfast, join a walking group, gym or social group to make the most of your weekend. 

    Get more tips on cutting back, here.

  • Cut down on caffeine

    Take time to think about how much caffeine you consume each day. More than one or two cups of coffee, tea or caffeinated drink is probably too much. Caffeine, especially in people who are sensitive to it, can contribute to anxiety and related conditions and symptoms such as insomnia.
     
    If you think you should reduce your caffeine intake make a plan that lets you reduce it gradually. Instead of coffee, tea or a fizzy drink to boost your energy, introduce short midday walks into your daily plan, find a caffeine free drink you like, and think about why that caffeine boost is so important to you.

Next steps

Choose the actions that feel right for you and make a to-do list that’ll help you get the support you need for your anxiety.