What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a “feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety is in fact a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when an individual feels disproportionate levels of anxiety which affects their day-to-day life, it may become more acute leading to a recognised medical condition. This is often known as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder:

  • Restlessness

  • A feeling of dread

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Dizziness or heart palpitations

  • Irritability

Did you know?

Did you know?

Did you know?

GAD is a common condition, estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population.

Be non-judgemental

Provide support

Offer support in seeking help

Don’t pressurise

Listening to an individual and asking how you can help is really important to anyone suffering from anxiety. What is helpful to one person may not be for others. So, you should always try to take on board what they’re saying, rather than handing out advice – however tempting. It can feel distressing for an individual if they feel they are being forced into a situation before they feel ready. So, be sure to bear that in mind.

A supportive friend or family member can be very helpful to someone suffering with anxiety. By showing your support, you could help them seek help, which is often daunting. Be it from a GP, support provider or therapist, your support could be invaluable on their path to recovery.

It is important not to put too much pressure on your loved one to do more than they feel comfortable with. If you do, you may run the risk of them feeling worse and becoming withdrawn. Patience is key, so try to take things at a speed which feels comfortable for them.

Supporting those with anxiety

To support a loved one, you should avoid all judgement so that they trust you and find reassurance in you. You can do this by being a reliable listener and verbalising your support, so they know you are there when they need you.


Support yourself - how to cope with anxiety

Talk to someone you trust

Whether it is a friend, family member or a counsellor, talking to someone you trust can relieve a lot of built up concern and troubles that you may have. It is important not to keep your feelings to yourself, particularly when you are feeling anxious, so if you do anything, make sure you find someone you can confide in. It might help lift a huge weight off your shoulders!

Keep a diary

If you aren’t ready to talk to someone about your anxiety, try writing your thoughts down and keeping a diary. You may find it easier to describe how you are feeling when the time is right, and it may also help you to manage your anxiety better and reduce your stress levels.

Breathing exercises

Believe it or not, something as simple as a breathing exercise may help calm your anxiety in minutes. An easy to learn tactic is to inhale slowly through your nose for four seconds and exhale out of your month slowly for eight seconds. Repeat this until you feel calmer. Alternatively, there are hundreds of self-help breathing techniques you can try on Google.

Complementary therapies

There is an abundance of complementary therapies that take a holistic approach to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and which help you cope better with day-to-day life. Whether it is acupuncture, aromatherapy, reflexology or yoga therapy, it is worth taking the time to find the right therapy that’s best suited to you. As with anything, different things work for different people but what we do know is that many people find relief from seeking support through complementary therapy.


If your anxiety is beginning to take over your life to a debilitating degree, you may be suffering with an acute condition which your GP can help you with. Our one-to-one assistants can help in many ways too, so if you have been diagnosed with acute anxiety, which is preventing you from leading a normal life, support is available here at Independent Living West Country. You can find out more about how we can help here.

But what if I can't cope?

Samaritans: Need help for suicidal thoughts? Please call, 116 123 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week.)

Papyrus: Under 35 and feeling down or desperate for help? Call 0800 068 41 41 or text 07860 039967.

Childline: Under 19 and need someone to talk to? Call 0800 1111. (this number will not show up on your phone bill)

Is your life in danger? If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E.

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