How to Manage Everyday Anxiety

Written by Jessica Lopes, Registered Psychologist

Most people, including children, experience occasional anxiety or worry about things in life, such as family issues, health, financial concerns, etc. This is a normal part of our contemporary busy life. However, when these feelings are extremely overwhelming and negatively impact our daily lives, and stop us from doing the things that are important to us, it is time to seek out professional support.

What is anxiety?

Have you ever felt as though something bad was going to happen, but you didn’t know why? Or that feeling in your gut, like butterflies or a sick feeling? Or maybe you have experienced thoughts that you just can’t switch off, “what ifs” like “what if I mess up”, “what if those people don’t like me” or “what if something terrible happens?”. All these things are related to anxiety, or worry, or feeling scared. It is our body and brain’s way of preparing for the worst or to protect us from danger, or at least, what our brain thinks is dangerous!

Anxiety is defined as apprehension, tension, or uneasiness that stems from the anticipation of danger, which may be internal or external.

Anxiety is one of the most frequent mental health issues clients present with when looking for psychological support. Although moderate levels of anxiety are beneficial, for example when it comes to learning, productivity and problem-solving, high levels of stress and anxiety can prevent our ability to establish a balanced and healthy life.

What are the main types of anxiety?

Anxiety can manifest in various forms, some people will describe their feelings of stress, worries or even a constant fear of the future. These can be just another way of expressing their anxiety.

Here are the most common manifestations of anxiety:

  • Panic attacks

Possibly the most noticeable type of anxiety is when you have a panic attack. Anyone who has ever experienced it knows that physical sensations can be extremely overwhelming – pounding and racing heart, sweating, trembling and difficulty breathing.

  • Social anxiety

Have you noticed that you are constantly second-guessing yourself or fearing that your behaviour is being watched or judged by others? These feelings can cause you to withdraw from conversations and decrease your ability to interact with others. Social anxiety can occur even to the most confident person and often happens in different contexts, such as meeting new people, presentations at work, parties or when talking to people in authority.

  • Generalized anxiety:

Generalized anxiety is a mental health disorder that produces fear, worry, and a constant feeling of being overwhelmed. It is characterised by excessive, persistent, and unrealistic worry about everyday things.

How to manage anxiety in the moment?

Now that you are familiar with the main types of anxiety, let’s discuss how to effectively manage anxiety. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, looking for professional support is the best way to manage anxiety. However, here are some short-term strategies that can help you cope with anxiety in the moment:

  • Name your feelings:

We already know that anxiety can present in all sorts of forms, recognising the different feelings, for example., anger, frustration, fear, etc. will help you to best manage it.  “Embrace absolute truths,” says Steven Sultanoff, clinical psychologist and professor at Pepperdine University. “(Tell yourself) I will get through this — one way or another”.

  • Distract yourself:

Changing your focus to something you truly enjoy, or care about can help break the cycle of anxiety and give you some relief. Sometimes, simply petting your cat or drinking a cup of tea helps.

  • Breathe:

Breathing may sound basic or an obvious thing to do, however, it can be practised as a key exercise to enhance your focus on positive thoughts and therefore, the anxiety can start to become more distant.

Although short-term strategies can help you manage anxiety in your daily life, it is essential to seek out psychological support if symptoms increase and persist.


When should I seek help?

Whilst many people experience anxiety or worry, not everyone will need to speak to a psychologist about the things that cause them anxiety.

A good way to figure out if you should speak to a professional, is to ask yourself if there are things that you can’t or won’t do anymore, that you used to enjoy. Another good thing to ask yourself is if there are things you seem to be avoiding more and more often. Lastly, its important to think about the impact your anxiety is having on your ability to socialise, go to school, engage in learning or work, or move about your day in general.

Many people find it helpful to discuss and unpack the things that worry them in a non-judgemental space, and you and your therapist can work out specific ways of helping you cope and manage your anxiety so that it doesn’t impact your mental health and the things you enjoy.

Spencer Health has a range of experienced professionals highly capable of supporting children and adults suffering from anxiety and other mental health concerns. Some therapeutic approaches that are effective for helping people who experience a high level of anxiety include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectal Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

For more information, or to book an appointment for you or your child please contact us

In a crisis, or if you are suicidal, contact a 24 hour crisis support line such as Lifeline Australia (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or the Mental Health Line (1800 011 511). QLife offers a gender-specific crisis support line and Webchat (1800 184 657). Additionally, you can present to your nearest hospital’s Emergency Department or call 000.