We all feel anxious or uptight at times. For some people that feeling is constant. Chronic anxiety happens when our body responds as if constantly in danger. Anxiety can lead to sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing, pounding heart, and many other physical and emotional symptoms. People with anxiety may fear they are physically ill or are going mad.

The two most effective strategies for managing anxiety are exercise and slow breathing as they tell the body to stop producing stress chemicals

  1. Exercise: At least 20 minutes (preferably 40-60 minutes) of exercise every morning gets rid of stress chemicals already in the body.
  2. Slow breathing, starting with a big breath out, reassures the body that we are safe. The following breaths don’t need to be deep; just slow, with a gap between inhalation and exhalation.

Eating healthily is the next most valuable tool for combatting anxiety. Eat a range of unprocessed foods (fruit and vegetables) spread across the day. If nauseous, small snacks might be easier to tolerate than proper meals.

Keep self-talk positive. We all ‘talk ourselves through’ situations everyday – just listen to your internal commentary when you drop something. Name-calling or criticisms increase negative feelings, which feed anxiety.

Don’t avoid situations in which you have felt anxious before as that increases the anxiety, making it more likely you’ll feel scared in other situations.

If you can identify specific fears, examine how realistic they are. Most of the things we fear are far less likely than many things we never think of. Reminding yourself of statistics might help deflate fears.

Relaxing or meditating everyday is recommended for general good health. Sometimes people who are anxious find that sitting to relax increases their anxiety. In these cases, exercise-based relaxation, such as tai chi, yoga, a martial art, or similar, can be helpful.

Antidepressant medication may be prescribed to assist with anxiety and can lower anxiety sufficiently for other strategies to be useful. However using other drugs or over-indulgence in alcohol will not help.

Cognitive-behaviour therapy, which is provided by psychologists and mental health social workers, works at correcting non-helpful patterns of thinking and changing patterns of behaviour to reduce and remove anxiety.

Dr Kate Alessia

Clinical Psychologist & Social Worker

Tel: 0400 444 040

1A Station Place
Hindmarsh SA 5007

PO Box 106, North Adelaide 5006


Copyright 2004 - 2018 Kate Alessia