People consumed by worry must be kinder to themselves

Even the calmest person can be prey to anxiety from time to time, and there are many ways to cope with it.

I say cope, but often attempts to regain your composure are futile.

New figures released recently show more and more people are suffering the debilitating symptoms of anxiety.

An all-time high of 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants, often used in anxiety, were dispensed in 2016. This represents a staggering doubling of prescriptions in 10 years.

Reciting mantras, deep breathing and visualisation all have a part to play, but on occasion may fail. Even pills may not work. So what do you do then? And what do you do if anxiety never leaves you?

When it’s present all the time, as with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), worry consumes you and you dread the future.

So how can you beat it? Researchers at Cambridge University have come up with some novel coping strategies. The first is “do it badly”. Instead of hesitating while you figure out how to “do it well”, just take the plunge and do it badly, but just do it!

The reason this works so well is that it speeds up your decision-making and encourages you to act straight away, instead of spending hours deciding what you should do and how you should do it. Abandon the aim of doing something “perfectly” or waiting for the “perfect time” before starting.

That leads to procrastination or can even prevent us from doing it at all. Doing it badly can be liberating.

The second coping strategy, which really appeals to me, is “wait to worry”. If something goes wrong and you feel compelled to worry, don’t do it immediately.

Instead, postpone your worry. It’s never as bad when you return to it. And our thoughts actually disappear very quickly if we don’t feed them with energy.

And the third is to “keep someone else in mind”. In other words, don’t stew in your own juice.

It’s also worth considering how much of your day is spent with someone else in mind? If it’s very little or none at all, then you’re at a high risk of poor mental health.

Thinking of someone else takes the spotlight off us and our own anxieties.

And fourthly, stop criticising yourself. People with anxiety often do this to themselves so frequently they don’t even realise it any more.

They’re just not kind to themselves.

It’s time to start forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we make.