It is important to know that anxiety is not dangerous and you are not alone to sometimes feel anxiety. How anxiety is experienced differs from person to person, but it is common to feel that the anxiety will continue to increase without a stop, which is not true. Anxiety usually soothes by itself. It is also good to know that anxiety is a natural reaction to threat with the function to protect us from danger.

A sudden feeling of anxiety is called panic attack. Panic attacks often comes without a clear external threat. Instead it is the brain that misinterpret the situation or the body's signals. It is also common for panic attacks to be triggered by stress. A panic attack can then be a signal that you need to slow down and make room for recovery.

Even if anxiety is not dangerous it can affect ones life to have anxiety often during a long period of time. If so you might need help to feel better.

Tips on how to manage anxiety on your own

  • It is ok to read and gather information that can help you take reasonable precautions. The important thing is to be critical and to use safe resources. If you find that the search for information gets exaggerated and that your anxiety is reinforced by what you read, try to reduce the time you spend following the media coverage.
  • Accept that you are worried. To feel anxious or scared is normal and part of our survival techniques. Try to talk to yourself in the same friendly and reassuring way that you would to a friend. Remember that all emotions are ok to feel.
  • Try to pause, note your thoughts, and put words to what you are thinking. Remind yourself that a thought is just a thought. Everything we think will not happen in reality. If we believe in everything we think it can lead to catastrophising, which makes us even more frightened and worried.
  • Talk to others about your concerns.
  • Try to change focus by doing things that make you think of something else and makes you feel good; e.g. have contact with friends and family, read a book, listen to music, work out or be out in nature.
  • Focus on things that you can control and take care of yourself by maintaining good eating and sleeping habits and by being physically active.
  • Use the knowledge you have about what has helped you in the past to deal with things that have been difficult in your life.
  • Practice your ability to be mindful in the present. It can be a counterbalance to the anxiety and help you consciously choose where you want to focus. Try, for example, to note things in the environment with the help of your senses: notice three sounds you hear, notice three things you see, touch three things, and/or do a breathing exercise.
  • Avoid using smoking, alcohol or other drugs to handle your feelings.

There can be a fine line between having normal anxiety and excessive worry. In the current situation, it can be specifically difficult to determine whether or not your anxiety is at a reasonable level. If your anxiety becomes difficult to handle and/or is hindering you in your everyday life, it is important to seek professional help.

Social anxiety

Having anxiety and feeling anxious in social situations is often based on fears of being judged, of doing something stupid, or of losing control. The fear can lead to avoidance of different situations that involve social interaction and stop you from hanging out with other people. It can also, for example, be that you are scared of making phone calls or that you avoid asking questions in class. Avoiding doing difficult things usually feels good in the moment, but makes the anxiety worse in the long run.

If you are an international student, social situations can be even more complicated because of cultural differences. In a new country, it can be hard to know what is expected of you in different situations and what behaviours are culturally accepted. Another factor making it harder can be speaking in a different language, if English is not your first language. This both makes it more difficult to express yourself and to keep up with others conversations, so sometimes misunderstandings can occur. This is normal and can usually be worked out.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that we are all different. Some of us are more introvert than others and to feel some kind of social insecurity and shyness does not need not be a problem. On the other hand if your social anxiety becomes an obstacle in your everyday life seek help. You can start by calling 1177 (from a foreign phone number dial +46 771 11 77 00) to get healthcare advice or contact the Student Health Service's telephone counselling.

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