How To Cope With Anxiety

Kanakadurga Kalidindi

28 Nov 2020
How to cope with anxiety

Don’t Be Anxious!!!

Are you familiar with a queasy feeling on the day of your exams, an interview, or some important event? You probably had an anxious moment; and you guessed it right!!! “Everyone has it at some time or the other”. As per WHO, 1 in 13, globally suffer from Anxiety. According to mental health experts anxiety in itself is not a problem. In fact, anxiety in small doses can push you to do better, be it in your exams or at work. Feeling anxious from time to time is different from Anxiety disorders, which are highly treatable with psychotherapies, medicine, or both.


What is Anxiety?


Anxiety is the most primitive response to danger or threat either real or perceived. The fight or flight response evolved in prehistoric times when survival relied on both aggressive and combative behavior. In modern times, this response has remained with us and is recognized as the first stage of the general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.


Fear, Anxiety and Panic


Fear, anxiety and panic can be confused, as the responses are similar. Like Anxiety, fear also can be good for us as it activates the fight or flight response. The difference is that fear is linked to a specific threat and anxiety is non-specific-threat linked defensive state. Fear is an emotional reaction to a known specific danger, anxiety is a mood state characterized by apprehension, and loss of control regarding a possible danger from a potential threat as opposed to real threat.


Fear and anxiety are inter-related. Fear causes anxiety and anxiety can cause fear.


Panic is another kind of fear response which involves a sudden, time limited, experience of extreme fear triggering cognitive, physical and

behavioral responses.


Why is it important to understand Anxiety?


Anxiety / panic is problematic when it becomes “a fearful apprehension that is mainly out of proportion to external circumstances being faced, or when the cause is unknown and accompanied by autonomic hyperactivity symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and other indicators of the body’s alarm system”.


While the physical symptoms are easy to identify, cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms are not always easy to recognize. If you notice that you are caught in a loop of negative thoughts and emotions because of which you start to avoid or escape situations or engage in unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors, you should consider getting some help.


Different types of Anxiety:


  1. You may have a friend who refuses to take the elevator because he/she is so scared of a closed place that they cannot be in a such a small confined area for even a few minutes. Or you may know someone who gets jitters even thinking about spider or cockroach. These are Specific Phobias.
  2. Do you of anyone who goes cold turkey at the idea of going to a party or if people are coming over for a visit? They do not like to be with too many people around them. They probably have a Social anxiety disorder. Children with Social anxiety may also have “Selective mutism”. A child who is otherwise perfectly capable of speaking becomes so tense in certain situations or in front of certain people that he/she cannot speak in that moment.
  3. Now, there is always at least one in the family who is a “worrier”. They worry about everything; money, health, relationships. They worry if there is nothing to worry about too. We call that General Anxiety Disorder.
  4. If you have ever experienced “separation pangs”, you probably know what I am talking about. Excessive and disproportionate anxiety when you have to be separated from a dear one is known as “Separation anxiety disorder”. A general feeling of low when you are away from your dear ones should not be confused with this. Separation anxiety is seen more often in children. Such children may refuse to go to school, or go out to play.




  1. Agoraphobia/ panic disorder/panic attacks, is a fear of being trapped and unable to escape or of being alone in the event of a panic attack.


Healthy vs. Unhealthy Coping Strategies


As day to day anxieties are common, we learn to cope and lead life as normally as possible. What we do to cope with problems or uncomfortable emotions, either consciously or subconsciously, are called Coping strategies. Some coping strategies make us feel good in the moment, however they have long-term negative impact or consequences, others on the contrary may not provide immediate gratification, but lead to long-term positive outcomes.



Examples of unhealthy coping strategies:

Examples of healthy coping strategies:

  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Overeating
  • Procrastination
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Social withdrawal
  • Self-harm
  • Aggression
  • Exercise
  • Talking about your problem
  • Healthy eating
  • Seeking professional help
  • Relaxation techniques (e.g. deep breathing)
  • Using social support
  • Problem-solving techniques


There are some simple techniques you can use when you are feeling very anxious or having a panic attack. These are called Grounding Techniques.


Firstly find a place to sit down. Take a few slow and deep breaths. Wait till your breathing slows down a little.


  1. Look around you and find 5 familiar things
  2. Try and find 4 familiar things you can feel with your hands
  3. Focus on 3 sounds around you
  4. Close your eyes and take in 2 smells near you
  5. Take a small bite of something for a familiar taste


With information overload on freely available websites, there is an increase in individuals self-diagnosing and labeling themselves with mental health disorders, especially anxiety disorders and stress. I make an earnest request to the readers to refrain from taking self-evaluation assessments, as they may be misleading. Psychometric assessments must read and analyzed by trained professionals.


If you are experiencing bouts of anxiety frequently, then consult an expert. Get help!!!
























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