Stress and Anxiety

Anxiety and stress are perhaps the most common complaint in the UK today. Anxiety is driven by emotion, worried thoughts and tensions, often accompanied by unwanted physical symptoms. Sufferers of anxiety will be familiar with the intrusive thoughts and concerns. They seem to break into every waking moment and often prevent us from getting to sleep at night.  The condition literally changes lives and we can find ourselves avoiding situations, people and places because of our anxieties and fears of what might happen.

stress and anxietyStress is similar but different. While there is not a single accepted medical definition of stress, it is characterised by feelings of feeling overwhelmed. Typically it will be circumstances where you are or feel responsible for the outcome but have little control.

The causes of both are numerous. Many of us think about the workplace when thinking about stress yet life events have a big impact: Changes in our health, changes in our family (a new baby, or bereavement), moving house, moving job, a breakup or a divorce. All will have an impact on stress levels. Anxiety similarly, will be affected by life events. It can happen with tasks: we may have to implement an unpopular policy at work, with no outlet to discuss concerns, nor leeway to change it.

Part of understanding how to tackle your anxiety and stress levels is to know your enemy. What are your particular triggers, what sets you off? This is a big step in changing the impact that stress and anxiety has.

There are other more general things that we can do to tackle our anxiety and these can make a difference in coping with the signs and symptoms.

Getting enough sleep and exercise

Numerous studies show that this helps the body to better manage hormone levels. It also offers the time and space to reflect on what is going on. Try to relax before going to bed, well away from TV and other triggers for your anxiety.

Breathing exercises

Try breathing in to a count of 4, holding for 2 and breathing out for 5. Breathing can calm anxiety quickly and can relieve anxiety symptoms. It is one of the most effective ways of controlling panic attacks. You might also consider looking into mindfulness, because it can help you control breathing and looks at how you interact with thoughts.

Journaling and challenging thoughts

Often anxious thoughts are extreme. We will lose our job, we will lose our house or no-one will speak to us again. This catastrophising self-talk is typical of anxiety. Step back and challenging those thoughts. What are the facts that support these statements (telepathy is not a fact).  What thought  better fits the statements. Many people find that writing their thoughts in a journal helps them to develop themes and to challenge the unreasonable anxious thoughts.


Perhaps the most important step is self-compassion most of all where will you get support: A counsellor, friend or family? What can you do that will rejuvenate you. Take time to recharge.