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Dealing with anxiety or panic

It’s normal to feel anxious or panicky from time to time, particularly in the face of threat or danger. But if these feelings stay with you when the threat has passed and are getting in the way of your everyday life, there are lots of things you can do that will help.

Jean has found ways to manage her anxiety over the years

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Listen to Dr Michael Mosley's podcast (approximately 15 minutes) to find out if spending time in nature could boost your mood. You can also read his article.

Mindful and Mindfulness Scotland have a range of information and resources to help you practice mindfulness and meditation.

Daylight is an evidence based digital CBT programme to help tackle anxiety and worry. You will be prompted to download the app.

NHS Inform has information about anxiety and panic.

Jean shares some tips:

  • Meet up with friends and neighbours in the park.
  • Leave your phone behind when you go out walking so there are no distractions.
  • Pay attention to sights, smells and sounds when outdoors.
  • Use mindfulness techniques.
  • Accept support from family and friends.
  • Keep journals and diaries to help challenge anxious thoughts.

Brain scans have shown that the sound of birdsong shifts your attention away from your own thoughts and helps reduce anxiety. (Natural History Museum)

Laura has found living through the pandemic really tough

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The Daily Mile helps to improve your physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Listen to Dr Michael Mosley’s podcast to find out how to get more benefits from your daily walk.

VisitScotland has information on the best hiking spots in Scotland. You can also read about the accessible outdoors on DisabilityScot. For wheelchair-friendly trails in Scotland visit AllTrails.

Living Life to the Full is an evidence-based online course to help with anxiety and stress. You can access this for free by registering your name and details.

Laura explains what the Daily Mile is:

  • The Daily Mile’s about getting out every day for fresh air and exercise.
  • Try to integrate this into your working day.
  • It helps clear your head and makes you more productive at work.
  • It’s about being around nature.
  • You may discover places that you never knew existed.

Each year, Scots make over 162 million visits to parks and green spaces. (Greenspace Scotland)

Dr Dean Burnett explains the neuroscience of anxiety

Dean explains that:

  • Our brains have a very sophisticated threat detection system.
  • Any possible dangers or threats will trigger this system.
  • We can be anxious about things which haven’t happened and may never happen.
  • The logical parts of our brains usually overrule the emotional parts, but sometimes we can become anxious all the time or feel fear at things which make no sense. 
  • Chronic anxiety is like an annoying smoke alarm that goes off all the time.

You can use a comforting scent, such as lavender, to turn down your brain's 'alarm system'. (Tina Ghavami et al, 2022)

Meditation music helps Trishna to relax

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You can find a three minute introduction to mindfulness at The Mental Health Foundation.

Mindful and Mindfulness Scotland have a range of information and resources to help you practice mindfulness and meditation.

Trishna explains how she stays healthy:

  • Listening to meditation music every day can take your mind off worrying.
  • Find a walking route that you enjoy, such as a walk beside water.
  • Keep healthy by being out and about in the fresh air.
  • By walking you can meet so many different people.
  • Being outside, you can just relax and don’t have to think of anything.

Caroline shows you how to practice a breathing exercise

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You can find out more about breathing techniques by listening to this 14 minute episode of Dr Mosley's podcast.

Key steps:

  • Find a comfortable seat
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Sit up tall with your shoulders relaxed
  • Breathe in through your nose
  • Breathe out through your mouth, making a "Haaa" sound
  • Find your own breathing rhythm

A message from Gavin, a GP, about anxiety

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Find out more about why you may be feeling anxious or panicky and what that feels like.

Sleepio is an online sleep improvement programme to help tackle poor sleep and insomnia.

Do

  • try to exercise every day (if you can)
  • cut down on alcohol and caffeine
  • consider joining a support group
  • get a good night’s sleep
  • talk to your GP about how they can support you

Rona shares the things that helped her recover from anxiety and depression

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Read SAMH’s booklet to understand more about anxiety.

Find out more about volunteering.

Find information on activities and support in your local area.

Rona found ways to get her social life back:

  • Volunteering and helping others can build your confidence
  • Find a reason to get out of bed and get outside

Caring for a pet can help us to live mentally healthier lives reducing anxiety and stress. (Mental Health Foundation)

A message from Khyber, a GP, about panic attacks

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The BBC social have useful tips on dealing with panic attacks.

Watch Dr Michael Mosley's three minute video about breathing techniques.

NHS Inform has a panic self-help guide. This guide takes 40 minutes to complete and breaks down the symptoms, triggers and how to reduce them.

Khyber gives advice on managing a panic attack:

  • If it's safe to do so, stay put, as your body will learn that it's a false alarm
  • Try to slow your breathing down

“If there’s one thing the modern human brain is undisputedly the best at, it’s finding things to worry about.” (Dr Dean Burnett, 'Psycho-Logical')

Saleem advises how CAB can help you

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Citizens Advice Scotland has free, impartial and confidential advice on a range of financial, benefit, housing and employment issues.

If your anxiety is due to money worries, job loss or housing problems, there are some organisations that can help.

Show organisations that can support you

Financial support

Employment and training support

  • Start Scotland have resources to help you look for work, including health and wellbeing support and self-employment
  • The UK Government have information about support, training and advice on finding a new job
  • Skills Development Scotland has information on employment and career related training, learning and skills

Housing support

Urgent advice: If you need urgent help

During office hours, you can contact your GP.

Anytime, you can phone 111.

In an emergency you can phone 999.

Please don’t include personal information e.g. name, location or any personal health conditions.

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