Coping with anxiety

Living with anxiety can be difficult. Not being able to cope with feelings of anxiety means they can get out of control and affect everyday life. The more often and the longer we feel anxiety, the more it can become a problem.

With this in mind, we asked those who had been anxious the previous two weeks how well they were coping with their anxiety. Nearly a third of respondents (30%) stated they were not coping with their anxiety. Those more likely to say they were not coping were those that were unemployed (43%) followed by those in the LGBTQ+ community (41%):

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There are many coping strategies that people use to manage their anxiety. For example, looking after their physical health by moving more and eating healthily; talking to someone they trust; using stress management and relaxation techniques; and making sleep a priority.

In our study, respondents used a variety of healthy coping mechanisms to manage their anxiety including taking time on their own (37%), exercising (34%), sleeping more (29%), connecting with friends/family (26%) and talking with trusted people (26%).

There are, however, a number of unhealthy coping mechanisms that are commonly adopted. These are reflected in the behaviours reported by our respondents. The most common was avoiding trigger situations (22%), which can be very disabling and life-limiting and is one of the ways that anxiety can feed into isolation, loneliness and even phobias.

It is also common for people to drink more alcohol or smoke more in response to anxiety – again we see these responses reported by our survey respondents, with 15% reporting drinking alcohol and 9% smoking as a way of coping with their anxiety. Women were more likely to avoid trigger situations (24% vs 20%), while men were more likely to drink alcohol (19% vs 12%).

Tim's experience of anxiety

People alleviate anxiety in different ways. For Tim, photography and photo editing has proved beneficial. He leads a photography group - ‘Artful Minds’ - in his hometown, sharing his love for photography and its mental health benefits with other people.

Our research has shown the positive impact that being creative, socialising, learning and doing positive things for other people can have on our mental health, and this is evident in Tim’s experience.

“I’ve found channelling my anxiety into something creative really helps. One thing I’ve really taken to is photography and editing photos to create art. Looking at the world through a lens can really change your perception of what you see. I find beauty in things I was oblivious to before, and I see possible photo opportunities all the time.”

Read more of Tim's story

What can we do to cope with feelings of anxiety?

Dealing with anxiety can be hard. But there are some things we can do to manage these tough feelings. Have a read through our suggestions and find out what might work for you.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

On the theme of 'anxiety', this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is from 15 to 21 May 2023. Learn more about the week and how you can get involved.

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