Anxiety is really common these days and around 1 in 5 of us is suffering some kind of anxiety disorders .[1]

However the vast majority doesn’t get the help they need and oftentimes people make mistakes when it comes to managing anxiety. Here are the top anxiety mistakes you could be making and how to overcome them.

Drinking alcohol to calm the nerves

Whilst one drink can help to relax yourself, and break the ice at a social gathering, did you know that the aftermath effects of alcohol can bring in feelings of anxiety? The day after you’ve been drinking, it is possible to get an anxious hangover. It’s not only the lack of sleep, as alcohol in the body reduces the quality of sleep; but also a depressant. Plus, a hangover can mimic anxiety symptoms, such as the shakes, feeling sick, and having a headache.

While being 100% sober might not be an option for you (although it will help greatly with feeling less anxious generally), be mindful of the amount of alcohol you’re drinking. A great way to still ‘join in’ is to have alternate alcoholic and soft drinks. It means you have less of a hangover the next day. You might also want to consider the types of drinks you choose – there are a lot of them on the market that don’t even taste like they have alcohol in them – and thus you drink more. Try a gin and tonic, or a vodka and soda with lime and other alternatives with soft drinks.

Resisting the feelings and trying to stop them

I know it sounds odd; but resisting the feelings of anxiety, or trying to fight against them, actually makes them worse. What you focus on increases, so while you think your self-talk is working, it might not be. Try to acknowledge how you feel, and tell yourself ‘I can handle these feelings,’ rather than getting angry and saying ‘this has to stop.’ What is coming up for you is the protective mechanisms of the body, which are interpreting the signals wrongly. Anxiety is adrenaline in your system; so try and see it as that, and as a friend not a thing to fight against. Trust that acceptance will disarm the power of anxiety. Try saying more accepting phrases, and see how you get on.

Avoiding your fears

If you want to embrace life, and live to the full, it is inevitable that you will have to put yourself in the situations that make you feel anxious – whether that’s a social event, going to a busy place, and the bigger triggers such as public speaking. It will seem that the easy way to cope is to avoid anything that makes you feel anxious. However, avoiding is only an immediate fix. You know deep down that you will have to do things like this at some point in the future, so it’s best to nip them in the bud. Is there anything you can tackle now, that you have been avoiding, before it becomes too big an obstacle?

It’s really important to make the decision to do something. It doesn’t have to be big. If you don’t like crowded places, don’t book yourself a camping trip to Glastonbury Music Festival. Instead, you could try going out on a Saturday to the high street if that’s what you’ve been avoiding – just walk past the shops, with no agenda, no shopping to do, just being in a new environment.

Keeping it quiet

You might think that it’s better to stay quiet about how you are, but finding someone you can trust to tell exactly how you are feeling is a really good way to release the anxiety. You won’t be burdening that person – in fact the people you love want to know about you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking nobody cares. Find a friend who is a good listener, and meet up for a good chat. If you don’t have someone, then a good therapist is worth their weight in gold. You will feel so much lighter when expressing how you feel.

Thinking that it’s just you

While you may feel isolated by your anxiety, please know that you are not alone. You might be surprised to learn that around 1 in 5 people have anxious feelings, and it is the most common mental health condition. It affects absolutely everyone, from the person you sit next to on the bus to work, to the celebrity you’re reading about on Twitter. Actress Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence have openly discussed their anxiety disorders, while superstar singer Adele suffers extreme stage fright.

Thinking that getting ‘help’ won’t help

There are some really effective treatment plans for anxiety that will empower you and help you to deal with your feelings. When you reach out to a professional, you will learn how to get better, and get the support you need to do the things you want to – such as we’ve mentioned in this article. So approach your doctor, find a professional, or seek help online.