I used to have really bad anxiety but now I can manage it better by using breathing techniques. It is still there but at least I can do things I never used to be able to like I find it a bit easier going out of the house if I just do the breathing for a few minutes before I go.
Coming to the OPFS group helps me a lot. It brings me out of my anxiety bubble, and meeting and talking to new people. The group gives me something to look forward to instead of hiding in the house all of the time. I also like the one-to-one as it lets me air my feelings and plans. Very helpful and well worth the anxiety that I soon get over.
Anxiety is what you feel when you’re worried, tense or afraid, particularly about things that are about to happen, or which you think could happen in the future. It’s natural to feel like this when we’re unsure about things and think we face some sort of threat. We can experience anxiety through our thoughts, feelings and in our bodies.
Most people feel anxious at times. It’s common to feel some anxiety when life is stressful, like bringing up children on your own, or not having enough money to live on. It can become a problem if you don’t quite understand what’s causing it, if it relates to something traumatic that happened to you in the past, or if you don’t feel like you can cope with it.
If you feel anxious a lot of the time you might have trouble sleeping, get headaches, not be able to plan ahead, and have a constant feeling of fear. You can find out more about symptoms of anxiety in this Mental Health Foundation guide. UK charity Mind has useful information and video clips about anxiety and how to cope with it. The Mental Health Foundation has videos and podcasts for wellbeing.
There are things you can do which reduce anxiety and the feelings and sensations that go with it:
- Cut down on caffeine (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, chocolate) as that speeds your body up
- Eat regular meals and drink plenty of water as that keeps your blood sugar stable. Take a look at ‘your body’ page for eating well
- Get some exercise, outside if possible, every day. It can just be a ten-minute walk or a trip to the park with the children. This can make you feel calmer and improve your mood. Take a look at ‘your body’ page for improving your mood
- Cut down on your tech. If you watch the news, limit this to once or twice a day. Keep your phone/tablet and other tech out of your bedroom. (Use a separate alarm clock so you’re not tempted to have your phone beside your bed)
- Try to wait at least 30 minutes in the morning before you even look at your phone
- Learn a few breathing and relaxation techniques (like listening to relaxing music) when you feel anxious Take a look at ‘your mind’ page for tips on mindfulness
- Reduce any unnecessary stress in your life. See more in our stress tips in the section above
- Try to manage your worries – for example by writing them down, setting aside a certain time for them, or by speaking to someone you trust
OPFS runs local support and activity groups and face-to-face services for parents. These are great for supporting you.
When to see your GP
If you feel anxious all the time for several weeks, or if it feels like your fears are taking over your life, then it’s a good idea to ask your GP for help.
If feelings of anxiety are affecting your ability to carry out your daily life, like avoiding family or not wanting to go out, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
If making or attending an appointment with your GP involves doing something that causes you anxiety (like leaving the house or phoning someone) you could ask for a home visit, a telephone appointment or an appointment at a quiet time. Maybe someone else could phone and ask these things for you, with your permission.