10+ quick and easy coping techniques for anxiety and panic attacks

Do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks and sometimes anger? As someone who experienced a psychotic depression, anxiety and anorexia, I understand just how frightening, draining and debilitating the above can be.

Before you go any further, stop!


A little tip for you. Let out that big breath you’re probably holding in right now. That’s right — let it out with a big huff. Let your shoulders drop down from your ears. Unclench your teeth and jaw, go on, give it a little wiggle and let your whole face relax. Now drop your shoulders, unclench your fist (s) and lay them (or one of them if you’re on your mobile) flat on the table or your lap. Uncurl/uncross your legs, give your toes a wiggle and let me explain quickly.

Your body physically can not be tense and relaxed at the same time. So — if you’re hunched up, fists in tight balls, jaws clenched — you’re effectively telling your brain you’re on alert, tensed and ready to fight or flee. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. So it makes sense, if you follow the tips above, your relaxed body is telling your brain you’re calm and relaxed.

Now you might try this and think “Huh, that didn’t work,” and you might be right, the first time. But if you practice it enough — waiting for the bus, sitting on the train, in the lift, in the shower or standing in that always slow queue at the Post Office where the person in front is paying all their bills with pennies.

Practice, practice, practice. And just when you do need to relax quickly ie before an interview, exam etc, you’ll have practised so often, you can do it immediately, with ease.

While I have both personal and professional experience of mental health problems, this blog is no substitute for professional help. And if you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact your GP or the one the support services on this handy list of UK services.


ANGER is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. … But excessive anger can cause problems. Increased blood pressure and other physical changes associated with anger make it difficult to think straight and harm your physical and mental health (1)

Take a look at the anger cog and

  • Take a Breath
  • Observe – what am I reacting to? What am I thinking and feeling? What’s pushing my buttons here?
  • Pull back and put in some perspective: Is this Fact or Opinion? Is there another way of looking at this? Am I misreading this situation? How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months’ time? What would I tell a friend in this situation?
  • Practise what works – do the best thing, for you, for others, for the situation. What would help most? (consider both short and long term consequences).

Practice, Practice, practice. I can’t emphasise this enough. Imagine attempting to drive down the motorway or through a busy town after only having one driving lesson – do you think you could do it safely? The point is, we have to practice over and over — until it becomes second nature, like driving or cycling.

ANXIETY is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. But if your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder and you should contact your GP, access counselling, seek professional help (2)

Some symptoms of anxiety:

  • Tense muscles
  • Irritation
  • Excessive worrying
  • Restlessness, pacing, fidgeting
  • Agitation, quick to anger
  • Snappy
  • Fatigued – changes to previous sleep pattern
  • Changes to previous eating pattern
  • Changes in libido

Repeat the technique as above — breathe, relax your jaw…….. Go back up the page, remind yourself of the technique and practice, practise, practise.

Now take a look at this model for anxiety. Then read about coping skills to relieve anxiety, panic attacks and stress.

Anxiety can be debilitating, so it’s important to seek professional help if your symptoms are severe. If you feel anxious on the majority of days and experience one or more of the symptoms listed above for at least six months, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Regardless of how long you have been experiencing symptoms if you ever feel like your emotions are interfering with your life, work or relationships you should seek professional help.

Although anxiety is a medical condition in its own right, there can sometimes be a physical reason for your symptoms – and treating it can bring the anxious feelings to an end. See your GP to rule out any other causes and do not self-diagnose.

Are you still practicing unclenching your teeth and jaw? If not, go back up the page and remind yourself of the techniques.



If you experience sudden, intense anxiety and fear, it might be the symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms may include:

  • feeling that you’re losing control
  • mouth going dry
  • sweating, trembling or shaking
  • fingers or toes tingling
  • shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
  • feeling sick (nausea)

Are you still sitting comfortably? Are you in a relaxed position? Have your shoulders dropped from your ears. If not, go back, remind yourself and practice!

A panic attack usually lasts 5 to 30 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they’re not dangerous and should not harm you. (4)

If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone and seek professional help.

Is this enough information or is it too much? Please let me know and feel free to ask questions. You might like an updated version here on How to Manage Panic Attacks which I wrote as a guest post for Kate @ https://kateonthinice.com/how-to-manage-panic-attacks/

  1. Carol Vivyan, 2010. Getselfhelp.co.uk
  2. Michelle Ayres, 2012. Getselfhelp.co.uk
  3. Carol Vivyan, 2015. Getselfhelp.co.uk
  4. NHS.co.uk

Author: mentalhealth360.uk

Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

8 thoughts on “10+ quick and easy coping techniques for anxiety and panic attacks”

  1. Yeah, I’ve been having major anger issues lately. I’m trying to talk myself down from lashing out and being “reactive” (that’s the word used in the self-help book I’m reading). That was a helpful cog graphic at the link!

  2. What a helpful post and good that you reminded the reader to go back to the page! I find it sometimes so difficult to relax my muscles in my upper legs. Especially in the shower, that is a sign that I am way too stressed. The muscles are trembling then ‘on their own’ which is strange experience.
    I noticed that anxiety in intertwined with my depression and that sleeping quality does suffer cause of all the tension in my body. Before I go to sleep I try to relax my jaw because I tend to clench and grind my teeth which apparently makes the noise of lawnmower! When I am not that exhausted at night I used to do a bodyscan, which can help too to relax the body.

  3. It’s not enough that we’re plagued by depression, they have to dump some anxiety on top of it — unfortunately, the two almost go hand in hand. Body-scanning is also another coping technique that helps me – I start at my feet and it’s great if I fall asleep before I get to my head – otherwise, I’ve got to do it all again. Don’t know if that’s just me lol.

  4. You’ve done well in distinguishing anxiety and nervousness as more ad-hoc events, panic attacks, and pervasive anxiety. I have high anxiety and have dealt with it since around age 19, but it’s become more of a ‘thing’ these past couple of years. I find anxiety before something very different to day to day, under your skin anxiety, but tips to relax, to breathe, to work on anger as you say, and to reach out and find resources are all great ways of helping yourself through these times. Great post!
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you Caz, I know — now that I have these coping skills, I can stop my anxiety before I have a panic attack. I feel that if I ever have another panic attack, I’ll be right back at square one. I’m terrified of having a panic attack so I do everything I can to prevent them. Caz x

  5. I didn’t know anger can also be part of anxiety disorders. Now that I think about it, though, it makes sense. Anxiety creates the inner impression that danger is approaching, which triggers a flight or fight response. Most of the symptoms of anxiety I usually think of fall into the flight category, but anger would be the fight response if the person doesn’t feel escape is an option.

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