Tag Archives: Worry

The cycle of anxiety

 

anxiety photo

The cycle of anxiety

We all worry about things that threaten us but often we overestimate the threat and fear it more than we need to. When we feel the fear, we assume we won’t be able to cope with the threat. Many times we are wrong and this is what we need to focus on when we feel anxious.

If we feel anxious, it seems logical to do things to reduce that anxiety. Avoiding a situation is one way that we can avoid anxiety. It will certainly decrease anxiety initially but it only works on the short term and actually makes anxiety worse in the long run as we become more fearful of the world around us. The more we avoid, the more the fear grows and when we avoid situations we fear, we never learn the skills to cope and show ourselves that we cope better than we thought we would. We never get to test out our predictions when we avoid things. Stop avoiding and start approaching.

These things that we do to reduce our anxiety are known as safety behaviours. We do them to feel safe. Again Рthey only work for  a short while.

Examples of safety behaviours: avoidance, withdrawal, overthinking, over-eating, being excessively tidy, people pleasing, being too busy, etc

Reversing the cycle of anxiety

Gradually begin confronting scary situations.This will lead to improved confidence. Start with small steps and work your way up to situations that create the most anxiety. Keep repeating the behaviour – you need to keep putting yourself into situations that you fear in order to overcome them. Anxiety is a feeling that needs to be managed and unfortunately, it will probably be a constant companion to a certain degree. It’s when anxiety becomes unmanageable and interferes significantly with everyday functioning that it really needs to be addressed professionally – by a therapy or counsellor.

Accept that a certain amount of anxiety is normal for all of us and it is the body’s way of preparing us for action. It can be a good thing so learn to accept and manage your anxiety rather than fear it.

Mandy X

 

 

How to challenge worry

 

worrying

How to challenge worry

Worrying is a waste of time- it expends mental energy but doesn’t solve anything. Solution focused worry is the best type of worry but most worry is made up of random ‘nonsense’ thoughts that destroy the current moment by sucking the happiness out. So we spend our lives worrying about things that might never happen and at the same lose, we lose opportunities to enjoy peace of mind and contentment.

Here are positive beliefs about worry that are irrational:

 

  1. Worry aids with problem solving

Example: If I worry about problems, I am better able to find solutions for them.

Ask yourself: Do you actually solve your problems by worrying or do you end up going over the problem again and again in your head?

Does worry get you to actually solve your problems or do you become so anxious that you delay solving your problems or avoid them altogether?

Are you confusing a thought (worry) with an action (problem solving)?

2. Worry as a motivating force

Example: If I worry about my performance, then I will be motivated to succeed.

Ask yourself: Do you know anyone who is successful and who isn’t a worrier?

Are you confusing worrying with caring? That is, is it possible to want to succeed and not worry about it all the time?

Does your worry really improve your performance? Are there negative repercussions as a result of your excessive worry?

3. Worry protects against negative emotions

Example: If I worry about my child potentially getting a serious disease, I will be better prepared emotionally if it happens.

Ask yourself: Has anything bad ever happened that you had worried about before? How did you feel? Were you buffered from the pain or sadness that it caused?

Does worrying about things that might never happen actually increase your negative emotions in the here and now?

4. Worry, in and of itself, can prevent negative outcomes

Example: When I worry about an upcoming exam at school, I do well; when I don’t worry, I don’t do well.

Ask yourself: Have you ever done poorly on an exam even though you worried?

Is your rule about worry (that is, worry = good outcome; don’t worry = bad outcome) based on real evidence or is it an assumption? For example: is it possible that you only remember the exams you did well on when you worried, and that you forget those you didn’t do well on when you worried?

Were you really not worrying when things didn’t go well on some exams, or are you just remembering it that way to support your assumption?

Could you test this theory? For example: could you track your worry prior to all exams and then look at your performance on each exam?

5. Worry, as a positive trait

Example: The fact that I worry about my children proves that I am a good and caring parent.

Ask yourself: Is there anything else you do that shows you are a good and caring parent? Is it only worrying about your children that shows caring and love?

Do you know any other parents that you would consider “good” and “caring” but who do not worry excessively?

Have you suffered any negative consequences from friends/family because of your excessive worry? Has anyone ever considered your worrying a negative personality trait?

6. The cost of worry: Potential challenges for all worry beliefs

Has excessive worry impacted on your work performance? Do you find that it takes you longer to complete tasks than other people who worry less?

Has your excessive worry led to high levels of stress and fatigue?

How much time and effort do you spend each day worrying about this topic?

Worry isn’t always a good thing and more often than not, it causes more harm than good. Learn to distinguish between REAL worry and HYPOTHETICAL (What if..) worry. A real worry needs attention in the here and now – for example: a broken washing machine…a hypothetical worry is something that may happen but might not.

Worry saps the joy from life and lowers quality of life. Learn to keep it in perspective.

Mandy X

Do you have Generalised Anxiety Disorder? (GAD)

 

worry

Do you have Generalised Anxiety Disorder? (GAD)

Therapists are trained to spot people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and one of the easiest ways to detect GAD is to look at whether a person worries about a particular situation or whether they tend to worry about a variety of situations. If their pattern of worry persists no matter what is happening to them, this is one sign of GAD. Do you tend to worry about almost everything?

Two common features of Generalised Anxiety Disorder:

1)People with GAD worry about the same things that everyone else worries about but the difference is that their worries are often on minor issues (eg. which toaster to buy or which book to read).

2) People with GAD tend to worry about unlikely or remote future events more than other anxious individuals (eg. dying in a plane crash).

People with GAD tend to report a poorer quality of life as they ‘live in their heads’ and worry about the future a lot. They have great difficulty living in the present moment. Even when doing something pleasant, they often don’t fully enjoy the experience as they are worrying about some future event. In fact, many clients with GAD report that they find it hard to enjoy themselves as they are constantly thinking about what might happen next.

Individuals with generalised anxiety disorder spend a lot of time on “What if…?” possibilities.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is particularly well suited to people with GAD. If you think that you may be someone who suffers with excessive worry, have a chat with a CBT therapist to find out more information.

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¬†situations. 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