Without G-d in the picture, either they won't work; or they won't work very well; or they'll work fabulously well for five minutes, and then stop working altogether.
Why is this?
Because the real root of anxiety and fear is when the soul somehow comes away from G-d. There's a famous Breslev saying that: 'He who fears One (ie, Hashem) fears no-one'. To put it another way, when we truly start to live our emuna that G-d is behind every single detail in our lives, from the smallest to the largest, from the cuddliest and cutest to the most scary - that's when we'll truly get free from fear and anxiety.
Yes, we'll still have yirat Shemayim, (literally, 'the fear of heaven'), but we won't be anxious about ISIS, or the economy, or Gaza, or our health scares, or anything else, because we know G-d is behind it all, and it's all for our good.
Let me stop here and make a very important statement: the level of emuna I just described above takes years of hard spiritual work, prayer and effort to achieve. It takes hours upon hours of personal prayer, and probably many trips to the grave of Rebbe Nachman, in Uman.
It doesn't come easy, and anyone who tells you that they are at that level (who isn't already one of the 36 hidden tzaddikim) is lying.
From my own experiences, as your emuna goes up, and as you spend more time talking to G-d, your fear and anxiety go down very quickly. But there's what I call the 'bounce back' effect, which means that you're not always, instantly, in the state of ultimate emuna described above. You still freak out, you still feel panic, you still get a bit sweaty and nervous, but you take that fear back to Hashem that much faster.
Instead of panicking for three days, it's more like three minutes. Instead of feeling like you're going to throw up from nerves, you just feel a bit dry-mouthed. Instead of being unable to sleep for months, you'll have one rough night, pray on it the next day, and feel so much better.
So how do you do hitbodedut, or talking to G-d? Great question! Rav Arush has written a book all about it, called 'In Forest Fields', which is highly recommended reading. But here's a few tips to get you started:
1) Start small. It's much better to aim for five minutes of talking to G-d every single day then to try to kick off with a whole hour. That's a level, and you often have to work up to it (it took me around two years to get to the point where I could talk to G-d for a whole hour every day.)
2) Don't censor yourself - tell Him everything that's on your mind. For personal prayer to 'work', it has to be honest. If you've learnt that you're not meant to complain about anything ,but you're still feeling really angry, tell G-d that! He knows anyway, so your fake piety isn't winning you any prizes. Yes, you'll have to make teshuva afterwards, but like Rav Dror Cassouto so eloquently put it, G-d wants our ugly truths much more than our beautiful lies.
3) Don’t pressure yourself to say anything, especially at the beginning. G-d gives the words, and G-d gives the silence. Sometimes, the silence is exactly what we need, as it's the first time we're actually giving our soul some time to express itself. It's amazing what you can learn about yourself when you finally turn off all the 'busy'.
4) Personal prayer isn't just about talking - it's also about listening. Yes, tell G-d about everything that's on your mind; thank Him for all His kindnesses, ask Him for help - and then pay attention to what G-d is telling you.
5) Do it by yourself - if you're new to personal prayer, then going to Kever Rachel along with 300 other people may not be the best way to start. Go for a solitary walk somewhere pretty; sit in your garden; do it for a few minutes in bed, when you wake up. You'll get over the 'feeling stupid' affect much faster if you're by yourself and not worrying that anyone else is looking at you talk to 'yourself'.
6) Don't give up! Talking to G-d is a learning process. I've had days when it was fabulous, days when it came very hard, and days, like right now, when I spent most of the time just repeating 'Ein Od Milvado' because I was too fried-out to say anything else.
G-d loves our effort; He accepts our prayers, however they come out (or don't…) and you WILL start to feel much safer, secure and less anxious when you start regularly talking to G-d.