The University Counselling Service
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Managing the physical symptoms of anxiety

Breathing exercises

These are often useful in helping to calm a sudden increase in anxiety or panic. The benefit is both in slowing down breathing to avoid hyperventilation and in re-focusing attention away from the anxious thoughts and on to the breath.

Alternate nostril breathing

The alternate nostril breathing technique (PDF) is a good way of re-focussing your attention and allow you to relax. You can also listen to a different breathing exercise on the University Counselling Service website as a podcast.

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)

When you feel anxious or stressed, you may create physical tension in your body without realising it, for example by hunching your shoulders, or clenching your fists. 

This can create a number of problems, including headache, neck-ache, shoulder-pain or even stomach problems. PMR is a way of learning where the tension is and how to relax. It may be helpful to set aside time to do the exercise every day during periods of anxiety. You can find out more through the podcast on the University Counselling Service website or take a look at Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley (Robinson) which has a chapter on PMR.


Yoga can help to calm the mind and release physical tension.

The Any-Body Club is part of the University Healthy U programme and has a class on Yoga for Managing the Mind and Mood.




University Counselling Service

The Orchards
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3695