Tag Archives: anxious

7 tips for coping with modern day stress

 

stress photo

7 tips for coping with modern day stress

Stress is unavoidable in today’s world. There are bills to pay, debt, traffic jams. difficult people, relationship issues – the list is infinite. Finding ways to cope with modern day stress will put you ahead of the pack in terms of effectiveness, happiness levels and quality of life.

Here’s how: ACCEPTS

Activities

When we engage in activities, we give our brains a rest from the continuous worrying. Activities that require engagement and thought are a great way to alleviate stress. One of the main principles of mindfulness involves being in the moment and when you are highly focused on playing a sport, exercising or doing a hobby, you give yourself a psychological break from anxiety and stress.

Contributing

Give something back to the community – do something for someone else. When we focus on something other than ourselves, we take the focus off our own worries and engage with someone else. Helping others can also help us to feel gratitude, especially if we are helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Spread a little love and kindness – always a great antidote for stress.

Comparisons

Comparisons need to be used wisely. Never compare yourself negatively to someone else. We all tend to do it, assuming others have better and more exciting lives than we do. Facebook is a bad culprit for this, increasing the feeling of deprivation. This type of comparison is unhelpful as it never helps us to feel better about ourselves.

It can be helpful though to compare yourself to those that aren’t doing as well as you are as this encourages perspective and helps us to feel more gratitude and appreciation for what is good in our lives. It is equally useful to compare times in your life when things were worse and how you managed then – remind yourself of your strengths and previous examples of your resilience.

Emotions

Do something that will create a happy emotion for you to counterbalance your stress. Watch a funny movie or put on inspiring or soothing music. Have a pillow fight with someone, be playful. Choose the opposite behaviour to improve your mood. Stress tends to lead to isolation, rumination and feeling sorry for ourselves. Try to get yourself out of that funk but doing something fun.

Pushing Away

Some thoughts tend to want to stick around. Learn to let go of worrisome thoughts. Picture them as leaves floating past you on a stream. You can watch them float by, you don’t need to pick each one up and focus on it. You can’t stop thoughts but you can choose how long you want to focus on them. Imagine writing your problem on a piece of paper, crumpling it up and throwing it away. Dismiss thoughts that are unhelpful.

Thoughts

Choose thoughts carefully. We all tend to engage in thinking errors. Examples: mind reading: where we assume we know what someone else is thinking when in fact we don’t know for sure. We often assume negative thoughts and this leads to further stress. Watch what your inner ‘mental diet’ is – what are you feeding yourself mentally? Is it balanced and fair or is it self critical and full of catastrophising (imagining the worst). Stop the self torture. Replace negative thoughts with more neutral ones. Example: Negative thought=I am never good in social situations. This will create anxiety. Another more neutral thought: I may not feel comfortable in social situations but that doesn’t mean I can’t handle them.

Sensations

Find safe physical sensations to distract you from intense negative emotions. Wear a rubber band and snap it on your wrist, hold an ice cube in your hand or eat something sour that you like. This focuses your mind on something other than your worries. Remind yourself of the difference between a real worry (eg. your car has broken down) and a hyopthetical, non-real worry. (example: what if the bus is full tomorrow and I don”t get a seat?) “What if” worries are wasted mental energy.

There are many strategies we can use to manage stress. We cannot stop stress altogether but knowing how to cope with stress can make the difference between sinking and swimming.

Mandy X

What are safety behaviours?

person looking at phone photo

Photo by UltraSlo1

What are safety behaviours?

We all engage in safety behaviours to differing degrees. A safety behaviour is something we do to provide us relief from anxiety. The problem with safety behaviours is that they only work temporarily and our attempts to self soothe end up becoming a repetitive pattern. The safety behaviour inadvertently ends up prolonging the anxiety.

For example: For someone who finds being in social situations anxiety provoking, they might avoid a social situation altogether. This helps them avoid the anxiety but doesn’t deal with the underlying fear. The threat of social situations stays unchallenged. So the avoidance is the safety behaviour but the anxiety will always be there when faced with a social situation. The anxiety of social situations will remain.

Another example of a safety behaviour: Someone who is insecure in a relationship might constantly check up on their partner by texting and phoning their partner. Initially, once they have checked on their partner, they might feel better…but only until the next thing triggers their anxiety and they need to check again. The need to check will not go away and in this way the anxiety is maintained.

The idea is to reduce safety behaviours, ‘sit’ with the anxiety and realise you can cope without the safety behaviour. This is the correct way to reduce non-productive safety behaviours.

Learning to challenge the threat with using a safety behaviours allows us to learn how to cope with the anxiety. Do what you fear – that’s the basic premise.

Be aware of what you do to reduce your anxiety…do you check your phone constantly? Do you avoid situations you fear? Work at approaching your fears and learning to deal with them. This will improve confidence and help you to be more resilient.

Mandy X

 

Playing it safe

 

playing it safe

Playing it safe

Playing it safe is probably holding you back. I come across countless people in my private practice who live fearfully. On one hand, it’s easy to see why. We live in a world where there is constant change and little certainty. We all seek certainty as much as we can and want to feel safe. In fact, feeling safe is often a huge motivator behind most of our behaviour – staying in relationships that no longer work for us or staying in a job that brings us little fulfillment. Insurance companies have never had it so good as we all try our best to insure ourselves against uncertainty. The world is inherently uncertain yet we fight and resist this every step of the way.

On the other hand…What about a radical new approach? How about accepting that the world is uncertain and that despite this we can still flourish and explore? I am not talking about being completely reckless…I am talking about harnessing fear and just getting on with life. The more we believe our fearful thinking instead of challenging it, the more powerful it grows and the less we try fight against it. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?

Risk it in love – yes, just do it.We all get rejected and if you never ask you will never know. Even if you are rejected, learn to talk to yourself in an empowering way – it doesn’t mean you are defective, it’s just a matter of not being compatible with someone. It’s not what happens to you it’s what you think about it.

Risk it in life – make that silly joke in public, wear your favourite clothes to bed, wear your favorite perfume every day not just on special occasions, go out with clashing colours on just for fun…live as if you only have a few months/days to live…

Always have a Plan B for sure but then put your fearful thinking away and go for it. Often we overestimate the fear and the challenge and possibly a negative outcome and we underestimate our ability to cope. How will you know if you never try? Don’t be one of those people in their old age that look back with so many regrets. Find out what could’ve happened – do it now.

Speak your mind, tell people you love them, tell people you like them…find another job if the current one doesn’t work for you…don’t stagnate. You will be in the top 10% of the population of people who risk it. You will be ahead of the pack.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and try things, be more afraid of the consequences of not trying and living a smaller less adventurous life.

Mandy X

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

 

generalised anxiety disorder

GAD

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short) is a common anxiety disorder where a person worries excessively in most situations. Their fear or anxiety is not limited to one specfic situation but is generalized to many different types of┬ásituations. GAD often involves a sense of dread and/or doom and “what if” thinking.

Often, people who have Generalised Anxiety Disorder possess positive beliefs around worrying. These, however are erroneous. They believe that worrying keeps them safe from harm and helps them to be prepared. Investigating this idea further usually demonstrates that there are no guarantees in life and that there will often be times when we worry in order to stay safe and events still occur that are beyond our control. “What if” thinking means that the present moment is ruined by feeling anxious over an occurrence in the future that may never happen.

Having GAD leads a person to imagine worst case scenarios and pretty much torture themselves mentally. They live a fearful life in their minds rather than engaging with reality around them.

Ways to deal with Generalised Anxiety Disorder:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a very good therapy to help counteract GAD.

  1. Challenge your thinking

Where’s the evidence that what you are thinking is true? Always ask yourself is there is another way to look at something…is there another explanation?

2. Gain perspective

Are you likely to feel this way in a week from now? A year? What would you say about this if a friend asked you for advice and was in the same situation? Can you add some logic to the picture?

3. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control

A lot of our “what if” thinking is based upon hypothetical worries/events – in that they may never happen. A real worry would be fixing a dishwasher that has packed up. A hypothetical worry would be worrying that someone might not like you if you don’t act in a certain way. There is no obvious evidence for this so it is best to learn to dismiss this thought and not focus on it.

4. Focus externally rather than internally

GAD sufferers tend to be really caught up in their own heads. Focusing on others and the environment can ease worry by focusing less on our fears and insecurities. Consider what other people may be thinking or focus on their behaviour rather than your own.

5. Allocate ‘worry time”

If you absolutely must spend time worrying, try setting aside an hour a day to write worries down and then try to problem solve them and create an action plan. Worrying that goes over the same thing again and again is wasted energy and will not achieve anything.

I have a fridge magnet with this quote on it: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere”. So true!

If you cannot control your worries and they are seriously interfering with your life, it might be a good idea to seek professional help and go see your doctor who could recommend counselling/CBT and/or medication.

Mandy X