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Managing our anxieties on a daily basis by Dr Poppy Gibson

What is anxiety?

Let’s begin by reflecting on what anxiety is. Have you ever felt anxious? Experiencing feelings of anxiousness is a normal human emotion. Anxiety refers to a state of excessive worry, a state of worry being experienced by an individual, despite no immediate threat being present, or at levels of worry that may be regarded as being disproportionate to the identified risk (Glasofer, 2021).

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK provides this list of symptoms for those who wish to check anxiety disorder symptoms online via the NHS website:

* ‘your worrying is uncontrollable and causes distress

* your worrying affects your daily life, including school, your job, and your social life

* you cannot let go of your worries

* you worry about all sorts of things, such as your job or health, and minor concerns, such as household chores’ (NHS, 2021: 1)

So what can we do if we are feeling anxious?

There are some simple techniques you can try building into your daily behaviours to help manage your anxieties:

  • Breathing exercises

Simple breathing exercises such as ‘lotus breathing’ or ‘square breathing’ are useful in focusing our thoughts on our breath in order to take back control when we are feeling overwhelmed. You can look online for simple videos to guide you, or simply count as you breathe: the square breathing, or box breath, is about breathing in for the count of 4, holding your breath for 4, exhaling for the count of 4, and then holding the exhale for 4.

  • Journaling

Journaling, or writing down our feelings, is a good way to monitor if feelings change over time. You could keep your thoughts in a diary, or if that isn’t appealing to you, you could use notes on your phone, or even just text your thoughts to a friend (or send to yourself on imessage). Even just speaking your feelings outloud to yourself at the end of the day can be useful. Look in the mirrow before bed; verbalise how you are feeling, how did the day go? What are your goals for tomorrow?

  • Take breaks from work or study

Ensure you factor breaks into your day, but make those breaks purposeful. We can feel anxious when we are overwhelmed. Taking a proper break can help us reset; for example, leave your phone in your pocket as you take a short walk outside. Put your phone away while you eat a snack and really focus on the taste, texture, and chew slowly as you enjoy some mindful eating.

  • Make lists

Anxiety can make us feel powerless; regain power by making lists of things you need to do (No matter how small the task!) and feel empowered as you manage to complete tasks and cross them off the list.

  • Talk to someone

Sometimes the most valuable thing is having someone to listen to us when we are feeling anxious. Sharing our anxieties can help us put them in perspective. Find someone in your network and ask ‘please can you just listen while I tell you how I’ve been feeling’? Or if easier, put it in a message on WhatsApp and ping it over! Let them know it doesn’t necessarily need a response or advice (unless that’s what you’re looking for!)

What if these strategies don’t help?

If you find your anxiety is worsening, and affecting your normal daily function, it may be worth speaking to your GP for advice.


Glasofer, D. R. (2021) DSM-5 Criteria for generalised anxiety disorder available at [Accessed 13/9/2022]

NHS (2010) Anxiety Disorder Signs. Available at [Accessed 8/8/2022]

Blog Post written by Dr Poppy Gibson - Senior Lecturer in Education and Course Lead at Anglia Ruskin University

You can follow Dr Poppy Gibson on Twitter @poppygibsonuk

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