By Julie Wales, Family & Special Needs Counsellor 
Managing anxiety involves a combination of strategies that can be tailored to a person’s needs and preferences. It's important to note that what works for one person may not work for another, so it may take some trial and error to find the most effective strategies for you. 
I do know that avoiding makes anxiety bigger, so that is why I say anxiety needs a plan! 
Here are some general strategies that have worked for the people I have supported in my counselling practice. 

1. Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques 

Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system. 
Progressive muscle relaxation can help release physical tension. Tighten and relax each of your arms, legs, stomach and face and hands. 
Consider a ‘safe place’ visualisation. This can be a beach, forest, holiday or a room or place you consider relaxing for you. In your mind you go to this place and as if in a dream you observe your surroundings, pick out colours, people, smells, things you can see or touch. This can be done at home or in a comfortable place but not whilst driving. 
Practice staying present in the moment. Just think of here and now and reduce dwelling on what is coming. 
Use grounding exercises like the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to reduce anxiety. Find 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, one thing you can taste/chew or one deep breath if you are somewhere you cannot eat. 

2. Get outside in nature 

Engaging in physical activity can help reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins. 
A short 10-minute walk outside noticing nature around you will recharge you. 

3. Diet and Nutrition 

Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated. 
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, as they can exacerbate anxiety. 

4. Sleep Hygiene 

Ensure you get enough quality sleep. 
Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. 

5. Stress Management 

Identify stressors in your life and develop your own coping strategies. 
Think of your ‘worse case’ scenario and ask yourself can I cope with this? If yes, then this will reduce the impact of anticipatory anxiety. (Before the perceived stressor has happened). 
Learn time management and organizational skills. 

6. Social Support 

Talk to friends and family about your feelings and seek their support. 
Consider joining support groups or therapy groups. 

7. Limit Exposure to Stressors 

Be around positive people that build your self-esteem. 
Learn to set healthy boundaries. 

8. Self-Care 

Block time out for yourself to watch TV and prioritize small self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. 
Engage in hobbies and activities that you love and be consistent in doing. 

9. Journalling 

Write down your thoughts and feelings to pinpoint your anxiety triggers. 

10. Creative Ideas 

Keep a glass jar and fill with positive notes and any compliments you have received to see your self-esteem building and filling the jar. Look at on a bad day to boost yourself. 
Colouring or drawing/ doodling helps soothe the mind. 
Writing a letter to yourself to soothe your anxiety. Telling yourself about your plan and comforting yourself and offering self-compassion is a huge booster. 
Set up a calm box – add things like happy photos from a holiday, fidget toys, puzzle book, music lyrics, love letters, compliments from others you have received. Sweets to chew as chewing helps reduce anxiety. Fluffy socks to wear. 
Remember that managing anxiety is an ongoing process, and what works for you may evolve over time. It's essential to be patient with yourself and seek professional guidance if needed. A combination of these strategies can be the most effective approach for many individuals. Please note if you feel that your anxiety is becoming too much to cope with and impacting on your day-to-day life then please consult your GP or seek professional counselling. 
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