10 Self-Care Techniques for Anxiety

by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer

Anxiety can feel so overpowering and isolating that it seems easier to retreat from the world rather than face it. Breaking the cycle that maintains anxiety can be anxiety-provoking itself, but it’s the first step in achieving mastery over the condition and restoring confidence and self-esteem.

relaxation breathing

Control your breathing

In normal relaxed breathing, adults draw air into the lower lungs at a rate of between 12 and 20 times a minute. Anxiety breathing is commonly shallow and rapid and helps trigger our fight-and-flight system. Re-train your breathing by spending around 30 minutes a day using slow, deep, and controlled breathing.

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Join a support group

The benefits of joining a support group are varied. You will certainly feel less isolated and be able share stories, but also benefit from the experiences of others. Many users have come through panic and other anxiety issues but remain to help others. Support groups may be found online and possibly in your local area.

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Reframe anxiety

Reframe your anxiety by shifting focus. Really concentrating on something else can sometimes help reduce the worst feelings. For example, pick up a book, feel the weight, check the contents. Do the same with any household object, or something in nature like the shape and size of a cloud, flowers, trees, water.

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Get active

Give your adrenaline something to work on. Go for a walk, a jog, or some other form of physical exercise that leaves you feeling pleasantly tired. Don't overdo it or you'll quickly be put off the idea in the future or may even feel nauseous. Try and build exercise into your daily routine.

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Never mind the weather

As explorer Ranulph Fiennes says, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing." Get some fresh air into your lungs and don't use poor weather as an excuse not to bother. If you have a garden, go enjoy it. If not, take a stroll and breathe.

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Be calm

Remain calm. Each day will present its own challenges but within them you must find time to spend on yourself. Use calming music or music you enjoy to transport yourself to a different place. Practice mindfulness.

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Try therapies

Experiment with complementary therapies. There are plenty to choose from. Test a few and see which suit you the best. Anything that helps you relax, sleep better, or just generally helps with your mental welfare is worth holding on to.

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Eat well

A balanced, healthy diet is an important self-help technique and lifestyle choice. At minimum you should cut out caffeine and preferably alcohol. Be aware that many food and drink products—chocolate bars, some soft drinks, energy drinks, and more—contain caffeine, but most are under no legal obligation to advertise the fact.

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Talk and write

Talking to people you trust can sometimes help you feel like a weight has been lifted. Combine it with keeping a diary and you have a powerful strategy. Diary-keeping is simply about noting good and bad times and providing a pattern of information. Note down your achievements so you recall the obstacles you've overcome.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s work background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.