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How to cope with anxiety

 

worried photo

 

How to cope with anxiety

Tension and anxiety are very common problems. The symptoms of anxiety are basically the same as fear although anxiety often has a less clear reason behind it. When you are in real danger you can usually do something about it whereas with anxiety it may often feel as if you can’t do something about it then and there.

Our bodies evolved and learned to react rapidly to immediate danger. As hunters and gatherers, a lion would create an immediate fear response. In the modern world we no longer have to deal with lions and other predators but when we feel unsafe, the same reactions still occur-fight/flight or freeze.

Some people who have a sensitive nervous system may be bothered by anxiety more than others. Typical reactions to stress involve a shaky feeling, feeling short of breath, feeling sick and so on. Although anxiety is unpleasant it is important to remember that the feelings associated are not dangerous or harmful.

Your thinking can make you more or less anxious. Our automatic thoughts naturally lead to feelings and these feelings determine our behaviour. Therefore the more anxious our thoughts, more stressed out we feel. Thoughts are not facts and can always be challenged.

How do anxious feelings start and how do they get out of control?

Here is an example:

Mrs Smith was alarmed to find herself feeling dizzy while waiting at a bus stop. Then she noticed her heart was pounding and her legs felt as if they were giving way. Because symptoms came out of the blue, she was terrified that she was about to collapse, or even die, and she went on feeling frightened until safely home. After that, just thinking about going out made her feel nervous and sometimes brought the dizzy feeling back.

How to cope with anxiety

Learn how to relax yourself physically. Taking deep breaths and counting to 10, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth can help reduce anxiety and relax your body. Calming the body physically will make it easier to calm yourself mentally.

Controlling upsetting thoughts

The type of thoughts which make anxiety worse are often difficult to spot, because with repetition they become automatic. Negative automatic thoughts come and go too rapidly for you to realise what is happening. The first thing to do is to pin down those “automatic” thoughts. Write them down somewhere and keep a record of how often they happen and what triggers these thoughts. Once you find out what type of thought makes you feel upset, you will need to spend some time finding out why this idea sets you and whether it is realistic or not. Always look for the evidence you’re thinking.

Often it turns out that these thoughts have little or no truth when they looked at more closely. The next step is to work out a different and more realistic ways of thinking about the same things and to practice using this different way of thinking every time you catch a frightening and/or automatic thought. As with relaxation, this may seem difficult at first but it will gradually become easier and more natural.

Summary:

  • Anxiety is the same as fear but without real danger.
  • Both anxiety and fear have two parts – physical and mental.
  • Anxiety gets out of control when upsetting thoughts increase body tension and vice versa.
  • You can learn to cope with anxiety by using relaxation and by controlling/challenging upsetting thoughts.

Mandy X

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety is increasing world wide

Anxiety is increasing world wide

 

Do you feel stressed out and unable to cope with life at times? If you do, you are not alone. In fact you are part of a growing epidemic that is affecting the whole world.

It is normal to feel anxious and worried when your child is sick or you have lost a good friendship but modern day levels of anxiety tend to persist for longer and leave us in a constant “fight or flight” mode which can be exhausting. Prolonged anxiety can lead to depression and the implications of this could be catastrophic. A society impeded by neuroses is not going to function as well as a society that feels well and happy most of the time.

So what causes our anxiety? There are a variety of reasons:

  • Financial difficulties (the recent recession has seen depression and anxiety soar)
  • Relationship issues – being in an unsatisfactory relationship , divorce or not having a relationship at all and being lonely
  • Career – many people suffer in silence from misguided work politics and bullying in the workplace. Being made redundant or lacking a job are also stressful experiences
  • Corrupt politicians and a sense of being powerless in the grand scheme of things
  • Capitalism – feeling deprived as if we never have enough and have to keep up with the “Joneses”
  • Death and bereavement
  • Bills and taxes
  • Traffic
  • Queues

I am sure we could all make our own lists and they wouldn’t consist of only a few items. Anxiety disorders are very common. In a survey covering Great Britain, 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week. More than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life and an estimated 13% of the adult population will develop a specific form of anxiety known as a phobia at some point in their life. Large scale studies have suggested that around 2.5% of people are likely to experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at some point in their life.

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) study compared depression with angina, asthma, diabetes and concluded that the impact of depression on a person’s functioning was 50% more serious than the impact of any of the four physical conditions. At present 40% of disability worldwide is due to depression and anxiety.

 

So, what’s the best way to deal with anxiety? I use the following three methods to help regain perspective and minimise the impact of stress and anxiety:

1) Acceptance

Instead of resisting what is going on by bleating things like “it’s so unfair” and “Why me?”, I find it useful to tell myself that this is the situation, this is how it is and then focus on what I can do to improve the situation. Accepting and confronting what is happening makes it easier to deal with.

2) Mindfulness

Really be in the moment and engage all of your senses. Taste, touch, smell, see and hear. The more work we give our brain, the less time it has to worry. So, if you’re driving in your car and find your mind wandering to all the worries about your life, focus your attention to your surroundings. Be more aware of what you are seeing. If you have the radio on, listen to what is being said or concentrate on the song words. Sing loudly if it helps. Staying in the present moment is very rewarding. Right at that moment everything is fine.Practice this often.

3) Unhook from your thoughts

Our thinking can be our best friend or our worst enemy. When your thinking takes you to a place of fear and anxiety, make a conscious effort to detach. Remind yourself that you are only paying attention to your thoughts inside your head. It does not mean that it is really happening, will happen or is bound to happen. It is just your thinking and it can be changed. Just as when you play back a scene from a movie in your head – you can relive it but it isn’t real. The same applies to your thinking in general.

I find the above strategies work really well for me but I still have to remind myself to do it and make the effort to be aware that I am anxious and then employ the above strategies. The more you do it the more natural it will become.

Mandy X

Info: http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/about-anxiety/frequently-asked-questions/