Managing anxiety - Your feelings - University of Derby

Managing anxiety

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Anxiety is a common and natural response to stressful situations.

Fear and anxiety are actually important to our survival as they trigger physical responses to prepare us to fight off or escape from external danger.

When we are anxious adrenaline courses through our systems, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes faster and blood is directed towards our muscles. In addition, our brain shuts off the higher reasoning part of the brain (the cortex) in order to make it easier to reach simple black and white decisions - do I fight or do I run?

All of this is vitally important to survive a potential external attack. It is obviously less helpful if we are trying to study and less helpful still if we feel so anxious that we are unable to function on a day to day basis.

The following tips will give you some very practical steps that you can take to control your anxiety.

Addressing your anxiety may make you feel more anxious at first. Even thinking about anxiety can make it worse. But taking some simple steps can help your anxiety reduce.

1. Don't fight against the feeling - becoming anxious about being anxious simply doubles the problem. Accept that you are anxious and that this is a natural reaction to pressure.

2. Identify the thoughts and events that make you more anxious and why they do this.

3. If anxiety is regularly keeping you awake set aside time in the early evening to examine those thoughts that are disrupting your sleep. Anxiety can distort our sense of proportion. Challenge your negative thinking and remember the positive things you have.

4. Don't let the anxiety change the way you behave. For example you should study for the time you decided you would - don't avoid studying because it makes you anxious or be tempted to study for longer late at night. Recognise that you are anxious and use the relaxation tips you can find here.

5. Give your mind time to turn off- if you find yourself thinking about things that make you anxious when doing other things, remind yourself that you have set time aside to focus on those problems later.