How to Stop Anxiety

Learn how to stop anxiety

Understanding anxiety is key in the battle to know how to stop anxiety from dominating your life.

Anxiety is extremely common, affecting one in four of us at some point in our lives. Despite the high prevalence of anxiety disorders, this doesn't make it any less debilitating for the sufferer.

Anxiety is normal

At the core of knowing how to stop anxiety from occurring is recognizing and accepting that anxiety is a normal part of our lives. Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations, such as visiting the dentist or waiting to take an exam.

In fact, feeling anxious can be helpful in alerting us to dangerous situations. It's only when these anxious feelings are prolonged or heightened, or if there's no threatening situation, that anxiety becomes a problem.

To get to grips with your anxiety, you need to tune into your feelings to distinguish whether what you're feeling is a normal response to a situation or not. Understanding that anxiety is normal in stressful situations can actually help to alleviate symptoms.

Different types of anxiety

In order to take the best course of action to halt your anxiety, it's important to recognize that anxiety isn't one condition. There are five main types of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia.

Analyze your symptoms to assess which type of anxiety disorder you're suffering from, and consult your GP for an expert diagnosis. In order to know how to stop anxiety, you first need to understand which type of anxiety disorder is affecting you.

Recognize anxiety symptoms

Anxiety can manifest in a wide range of symptoms. Although anxiety is a mental condition affecting the way we think, feel and behave, it can also produce many physical symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Breathlessness
  • Trembling and sweating

Some panic disorder sufferers experiencing an anxiety attack may even confuse physical symptoms with the feeling they're having a heart attack, which can be incredibly frightening. The good news is that all of these physical symptoms will quickly pass and they won't cause harm.

Understanding these symptoms and constantly reminding yourself that they won't harm you is a vital weapon in knowing how to stop anxiety.

Breathing control

When we feel anxious it causes us to take rapid, shallow breaths, which upsets the carbon dioxide balance in the body, enhancing uncomfortable physical symptoms. You can learn how to stop anxiety by practicing techniques that slow your breathing down and correct this chemical imbalance. Meditation and deep breathing from the diaphragm as opposed to the chest will keep your breathing, and anxiety, on an even keel.

Meditation and mindfulness also go hand in hand, and by taking time out to focus on the here and now, you become more in touch with your feelings and can let go of negative emotions that may be fueling your anxiety.

Avoidance isn't how to stop anxiety

It seems obvious, that if something is making you feel anxious, you avoid it. Yet, if visiting the supermarket or socializing with friends is making you feel uncomfortable, avoiding these situations may have a negative impact on your life.

If you want to learn how to stop anxiety, the key thing is not to avoid the situation. In fact, avoiding your fears only makes it much worse. Tackle anxiety head on by facing your fears.

Take it one step at a time, and reward yourself for every bit of progress you make. Don't punish yourself if you take a step backwards in your efforts to curb anxiety; you'll have good days and bad days, so keep this in mind.

Talking helps anxiety

Getting to the root cause of what is fueling your anxiety can alleviate symptoms, so mulling over your problems with friends or family can help to lighten the load. Making changes in some areas of your life may be enough to keep anxiety symptoms at bay.

If you need expert help, consult your GP who may be able to refer you to a talking therapist. Over half of people with panic disorder or social phobia benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In some cases, your GP may prescribe medication to ease anxiety symptoms, particularly if they are interfering with your everyday life.

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Last Reviewed:
August 29, 2017
Last Updated:
October 26, 2017