Tag Archives: panic

Dealing with my anxiety

Photo on 2013-10-16 at 13.33 #5

Dealing with my anxiety

I never really acknowledged my anxiety for many years. I always felt I was more depressed than anxious but now I realise that anxiety has been a constant companion by my side. I have just learned strategies to help get me through.

We all feel anxious at times and this is healthy. It is the body’s way of preparing us for a threat. The problem is that in modern day living, the threat won’t usually kill us yet the body reacts the same way it would if there was a real danger to us. Psychologists say that this is down to evolution and the fact that the ‘old brain’ – the amygdala and the hypothalamus still activate in the same way that they would have thousands of years ago when faced with a hungry lion, for example. So, nowadays, in modern living, we can be triggered by our body’s natural reactions and interpret this as real danger. Understanding that even though our bodies are preparing us for a fight/fight or freeze response does not necessarily mean we are in immediate danger has helped me to separate physical symptoms from any real threat or danger. Well, it’s a start at least!

The other strategy I try to use is to ask myself whether my worry is a real worry or a hypothetical worry (a “what if” type worry). If it is a hypothetical worry, I try to dismiss it and distract myself with something else. I used to believe that worrying would somehow keep me safe but I have since challenged the idea that worry is a good thing. I can think if many times when I have worried and it has had not effect on the outcome. One of my favourite quotes is: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere”. I think this is very true. I see worry as mental torture now and although I cannot stop the thoughts coming, I am better at dismissing them and not focusing on them or giving them any attention. Think of it this way – you can’t control who knocks at your door but you can choose how long you wish to entertain them for. Your thoughts can be seen in the same way.

I also remind myself that thoughts are not facts – they are just my perceptions of reality, not necessarily the actual reality out there.

Anxiety comes and goes in my life. It has been debilitating at times but I have learned that the only way to reduce anxiety is to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone by confronting my fears. Anxiety is caused by overestimating the threat and underestimating our ability to cope. I talk to myself more positively and tell myself that I will find a way through, no matter way. I have to repeat affirmations to myself regularly but they do help me.

Anxiety can be managed, I know because I have done it. I am still a work in progress though as life is naturally ‘up and down’ and anxiety always seems to hover nearby. Having said that, I do feel I am less anxious than I used to be and I keep working at it and resisting it. You can too!

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/

 

Panic Attacks and Workaholics

Panic attacks

Panic attacks

Panic Attacks and Workaholics

Panic attacks are becoming increasingly common. Clients that have come to me with panic attacks are often those that have tried to be strong for too long. They have soldiered on when they should’ve taken some time out. Modern life pushes us to be relentless in our pursuit of money, status and power. It is often seen as weak to need time out. Actually, I think it is a sign of strength and self awareness to be able to acknowledge when it is time to slow down for a while. There are no hero badges for those that carry on regardless and have a heart attack on the golf course at the age of 50. I always say to these clients: “There is only one of you but your company will carry on regardless”. I have seen countless times how businesses have sacked long term employees without so much as a decent goodbye. “It is nothing personal but please clear your desk by 5pm today”.

There are no bonuses for a misplaced sense of loyalty and I wonder sometimes if the current business ethos somehow allows brainwashing of employees. Training that gets employees to think that they must work ten hour days and not take a lunch break. Seriously? Don’t buy it! Of course, there are times when we have to put in overtime but I would seriously question a company that expects you to put in constant overtime.

So what if everyone else does it. Don’t be a sheep. Be one of the clever guys who knows about work/life balance and refuses to compromise on this. Thankfully there does seem to be a trend of high profile executives taking lower paying jobs in order to be able to live their lives a bit more. Have time with friends and family and recharge.

For all the others – don’t be brainwashed into believing that work is always where it’s at. It’s a conspiracy…I see so many washed put clients who are exhausted and have lost their ability to enjoy themselves. Mostly they are burnt out but have failed to recognise the signs.

This post is a wake up call to all you workaholics out there. Slow down..why the rush? If you don’t make time for balance in your life your body will find a way to force you to slow down. Don’t let it get to that stage.

Come on – get out now for that coffee break or take a day off to just do nothing. If you feel resistance to this idea, it’s even more essential that you do it!

Mandy X