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.

Caroline shows you how to practice a breathing exercise

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

Steps For Stress has more breathing exercise guidance.

Not all exercise involves going out for a walk. Actify have examples of things you can do at home, for all abilities.

For non-active ideas to help your wellbeing, visit Young Scot’s how to get creative page.

A message from Gavin, a GP, about anxiety


  • 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

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

Read SAMH’s booklet to understand more about anxiety.

Daylight is a free app and program to help tackle anxiety and worry.

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

Khadeejah talks about coping strategies for anxiety and sadness

Khadeejah shares the coping strategies she uses to tackle anxiety, loss and sadness. Khadeejah suggests:

  • going outdoors and being active – this could be playing a sport that you enjoy or getting into the fresh air and enjoying nature
  • listening to uplifting podcasts
  • if you have faith or beliefs, you may find prayer helpful in seeking comfort

Anxiety UK offers a wide range of helpful resources to help you understand and overcome anxiety.

SAMH has a lot of useful information to support mental health. They also help you to get involved in supporting others with their mental health, if you want to.

Jean has found ways to manage her anxiety over the years

Jean shares some tips:

  • Meet up with friends and neighbours in the park.
  • Put your phone on do not disturb 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.

Read more about anxiety and panic.

Visit Paths for All to find a range of walking routes, of any length and ability, near you.

Euan’s Guide is a website which details the accessibility of sites across the UK, including gardens, nature and open spaces.

Meditation music helps Trishna to relax

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, like walking beside water.
  • Being outside, you can just relax and don’t have to think of anything.

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

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

Read more about anxiety and panic.

A message from Khyber, a GP, about panic attacks

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.

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

Read more about how to deal with panic attacks.

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

“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’)

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.