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
I am sure we could all make our own lists and they wouldn’t consist of only a few items.Â Anxiety disorders are very common. In a survey covering Great Britain, 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of â€˜neurotic health problemâ€™ in the previous week. More than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a â€˜disabling anxiety disorderâ€™ 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 personâ€™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:
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.
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.