Practical Anxiety Support: 5 Symptoms and Solutions


Do you feel like you’ve got a knot tied in your stomach and someone keeps poking it? Do you ever overthink scenarios so much that you warp them and think they’re real? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed and lost for no apart reason?

Yep, that’ll be your not-so-good friend anxiety.

The word anxiety is thrown around a lot, and it can be difficult to pinpoint what it ACTUALLY means, and what you can do to support yourself.

Luckily you’ve found us! We’re Counterpoise, a team of 15+ mental health and physical wellbeing practitioners who are here to support you take the right action to calm your mind and manage daily life.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like

It’s hard to write a set definition of what anxiety feels like as it showcases itself differently in everyone.

During counselling or therapy sessions people tend to say they want to feel ‘normal’, but often they don’t know what that means. Although some anxiety is normal, being in a constant state of anxiousness can be incredibly difficult to live with.

  • These are the main signs of anxiety:
  • Worry and apprehension
  • Physical sensations
  • Fear and avoidance
  • Overthinking
  • Self-doubt and perfectionism

The first step to controlling your anxiety is figuring out what you’re actually struggling with and how often. Feeling anxious from time to time is perfectly normal, but if anxiety symptoms take over your day-to-day life then it’s time to stop it in its tracks.

So let’s dive in!

  1. Worry & Apprehension

Now this is a tricky one because with work stresses, relationship issues and general life stuff it’s completely normal to feel worried. But an anxiety brain can make you feel as if you’re ALWAYS on edge. This can come in the form of:

Constantly anticipating negative outcomes:

  • “I’ll never get that promotion”
  • “My new partner’s family definitely won’t like me”
  • “I’m going to look awful in that new dress I’ve ordered”

Catastrophising situations:

  • “They are 5 minutes late so they must be cheating on me”
  • “The trains stopped there must have been a crash”
  • “ My boss wants a meeting, he must be firing me”

Feeling something bad will happen after something good:

  • “I had a good time with my friends, but I bet they never invite me again”
  • “I got a promotion, but I bet my car breaks down soon”
  • “I hit a personal best in the gym, but I guarantee I’ll injure myself soon”

Living in this constant state can be exhausting.

That’s why it’s important to recognise these thoughts and take action.

2. Physical Sensations

Although anxiety comes from your thoughts and feelings, it can be so powerful that it can break through into physical symptoms. These sensations include:

  • Your heart racing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Trembling
  • Sweating

Butterflies or knots in your stomach

We’ve all felt at least one of these physical sensations before an important exam, starting a new job or when doing a presentation – that’s normal!

But if you feel like these physical symptoms are taking over your life, and are happening at random times, that’s when it’s time to reach out and seek support.

3. Fear & Avoidance

If you were asked to describe anxiety the initial stages (especially at the start of a panic attack) can feel like that wrenching feeling when you get a shock while watching a horror movie.

That’s fear.

Fear and avoidance are the best of friends.

Where fear goes avoidance follows.

Once your brain links that feeling of fear with something tangible, it can often lead you to avoid certain situations, places, or activities that you see as triggering or threatening. This avoidance behaviour may provide temporary relief, but in the long run, it can deplete your confidence and limit your experiences.

It’s important to put tools in place to differentiate when you *don’t want to do something compared to when you just avoid doing something because of the anxiety surrounding it.

4. Overthinking

The majority of anxiety stems from being in your head. This can result in repetitive and intrusive thoughts looping around your brain. This cycle of overthinking can often be thoughts around:

  • Negative outcomes
  • Past mistakes
  • Future uncertainties
  • Other people’s opinions
  • Things you’ve said/done

This can be exhausting!

Self-reflection is a powerful exercise! But if you’re challenging and overthinking everything you do, you’ll end up in a negative cycle.

Overthinking is a challenging habit to break, but with time, practice, and appropriate support these thoughts can be managed, giving you the feeling of total freedom.

5. Self-doubt & Perfectionism

Anxiety is the feeder of self-doubt, and self-doubt and perfectionism are best friends. The need to strive for constant perfection comes from the worry of:

  • Being judgment
  • Criticism from others
  • Making mistakes
  • Feeling embarrassed
  • Imposter syndrome

Some people suffer from ‘perfection paralysis’, which sees people delay tasks due to the fear of not meeting the high standards they’ve set for themselves.

Spending too much time in this phase can lead to missed opportunities, increased stress, and reduced productivity – All of which contribute to self-doubt.

5 Ways To Help Your Anxiety

Whether you resonate with one symptom or all of them you don’t have to just ‘deal’ with it. There are tools, resources and people who can support you through this time.

These are the 5 main supporting solutions to help with your anxiety:

  • Focus on nutrition
  • Move your body
  • Do a body scan
  • Cut Stimulants
  • Get professional support

At the end of this article, there is a free ‘Manage Your Anxiety’ guide you can use to support you on your anxiety journey.

Let’s get into each section.

Focus on Nutrition

Nutrition is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to your overall health. But just like the corner sky piece, it’s the foundational building block of keeping your anxiety in check.

Here are things to look out for.

Blood Sugar Levels

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels have been proven to negatively impact anxiety symptoms. The body releases insulin to help absorb any excess glucose, but too much sugar gets our body working overtime which can cause low feelings.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should start cutting out all sugar from your diet – That would be IMPOSSIBLE.

Like everything in life, it’s about creating balance.

Foods such as complex carbohydrates (brown rice, oats), fibre-rich (berries, broccoli), healthy fats (avocadoes, olive oil), and lean proteins (eggs, tofu) will all contribute to balancing your blood sugar levels.

B Vitamins & Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If we’re taking brain health, then we have to talk about the big B vitamins including B6, B9 (also known as Folate) and B12.

B vitamins are involved in the synthesis (fancy science word for creation) of chemicals in the brain such as Serotonin and Dopamine. Which we all know are the happy, love chemicals we all want.

You can get your vitamin B hit from dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli and liver.

Move your body

This a standard statement that every counsellor, practitioner and self-help Instagram health guru tells you to do.

But what this doesn’t mean is you have to run 10k every, lift weights 5 times a week or join a martial arts club (if you don’t want to). The mistake people make when looking to move their bodies is they look at what everyone else is doing.

Focus on what YOU enjoy and what makes YOU feel good.

If you aren’t sure what that is, then go back to basics and start with a 20-minute walk a day, with your phone on do not disturb.

In the summer weather try and surround yourself with nature and focus on your five senses; sight, smell, noise, taste and feel. This will help to ground you, ease your thoughts and make you feel calm.

In classic British fashion, we can never fully trust the weather. Yoga is a great form of movement that can be done inside to calm your those anxious thoughts.

Check out these 11 yoga poses that can help.

Do a body scan

This isn’t as scary as it sounds – we promise!

A self-regulated body scan is a great way to ground yourself and bring awareness to what sensations you’re feeling.

A body scan interrupts the anxiety cycle. It can often help calm all those hyped-up emotions whizzing around your head, making it easier to make clear decisions.

Here’s how you can perform a body scan. Go on, try it right now!

Step 1: Make yourself comfortable sitting or standing with your feet on the ground

Step 2: Close your eyes or change to a soft gaze

Step 3: Inhale deep and slow through your nose

Step 4: Exhale slowly out through your mouth

Step 5: Shift your attention to yourself

Step 6: Notice if you get distracted and bring yourself back to your breath

Step 7: Focus on the sensations in your feet and work your way up to your head

A body scan can be a powerful tool in helping to ease stress and anxiety symptoms.

For more guidance on how to do a body scan check out our Lead Practitioner Jess’ video on our IG.

Get Support

All the tools and support mentioned above are great in helping to manage your anxiety. However, there is nothing that can replace getting professional support from a counsellor and mental health professional.

How Counselling Could Help With Your Anxiety

Counselling is a confidential and supportive process. It gives you the freedom to explore thoughts, emotions, and challenges with someone who can understand.

Counsellors like Ian and Simone will help you gain insight into the root cause of your anxiousness, develop coping strategies, and help you manage your anxiety.

Choosing a Counterpoise counsellor can:

  • Provide you with emotional support during tough times
  • Help you heal from past trauma and unresolved underlying issues
  • Teach you relaxation practices and healthy coping mechanisms
  • Reframe negative self-talk and thoughts
  • Build your self-esteem by setting confidence goals

If you’re interested in counselling get in touch here.

EMDR and Anxiety

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is a powerful and effective type of therapy used to support people with anxiety and dealing with trauma.

The therapy focuses on the brain’s ability to constantly learn, take past experiences, and update them with present information. Find out more about how EMDR works from our incredible EMDR Specialist, Kat, in her recent article.

Choosing EMDR can help you:

  • Process and control traumatic memories and experiences
  • Desensitise anxious thoughts and replace them with positive beliefs
  • Release physical tension and calm your mind
  • Regain the feeling of control, supporting with confidence

EMDR is a collaborative process, but our EMDR specialist will be there to answer any questions and walk you through the whole process.

If you’re looking to take control of your anxiety sign up for our mental health and physical wellbeing newsletter. You’ll get expert tips, updates and support from our practitioners straight to your inbox every month.

Cut out stimulus

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the best things you can do is cut out stimuli to reduce the body’s feeling of stress. This helps to re-centre your body and reset your emotions.

When you think ‘stimulus’ you might think of things that recharge you with energy, such as coffee. But caffeine is just one of many stimuli we face today. A big one is social media.




Look familiar?

When we’re scrolling on social media we are bombarded with quick dopamine hits with every individual scroll. With such easy access to a constant stream of information, our brains can become over-clustered with information.

Aim to reduce your screen time by taking breaks from your phone (especially social media).

Some simple ways to do this are:

  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb as soon as you finish work
  • Add time restrictions on social apps first thing in a morning
  • Leave your phone in a different room when working or watching a movie
  • Stop taking your phone to the toilet (we know you are… 👀)

Anxiety Overview

Anxiety gets a lot of stick, but it’s not ALL bad (stick with us here).

In many ways, anxiety is the thing that motivates people to get things done. If you didn’t feel stressed about hitting that deadline you’d probably watch another episode of Bridgeton. If you weren’t bothered about that work presentation, you’d probably end up getting sacked.

That feeling of anxiety can help us to better and be better.

But chronic or excessive anxiety that affects everyday life is not something you have to live with.

Looking for actionable anxiety support you can implement now? Sign up to our email list for your free ‘Manage Your Anxiety’ guide. It’s packed full of techniques written by our expert practitioners to help you ease your anxiety.

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