While anxiety is a common human reaction to stressful situations, when it begins to have an impact on how we live our lives to the point where we avoid people, places, and situations that seem to trigger it, it is time to do something about it.
Anxiety is when we go over things again and again in our mind in a way that does not actually help resolve the perceived problem. This, in turn, affects our emotions. Typically an anxious person will do any or all of the following:
- worry about something that happened in the past or something that might happen in the future
- avoid situations that trigger the anxiety
- become over-dependent on others to look after them or provide answers
- put on a brave face for fear of being judged
- use caffeine, drugs, cigarettes or alcohol to cope
Common symptoms of anxiety are:
- tense muscles causing headaches
- a dry mouth
- dizziness caused by shallow breathing
- indigestion, butterflies in the stomach, constipation, and diarrhea caused by the adrenaline taking blood away from the heart and muscles
- fast heartbeat
- panic attacks caused by the flight/fight/freeze adrenalin response
- difficulty concentrating and remembering
- feeling overly emotional, thinking negatively
- difficulty sleeping
Over time these symptoms can feed fears, phobias, hopelessness and lead to depression.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety is caused by the way we react to stressful situations in our lives. Whether it is losing a job, moving house, having trouble with a relationship, experiencing an illness, a bereavement, childbirth or simply having too many commitments, major upheavals are common triggers.
What is important to remember however is that it is not the event that causes the anxiety but the way you perceive and respond to it. Often we become set in a way of looking at the world that confirms our worst fears and feeds our anxieties so if we are to combat anxiety we have to be ready to test our assumptions and have a good look at our ‘map’ of the world to see if it’s making things worse.
Caffeine and energy drinks also contribute to anxiety, as well as cocaine and amphetamines so if you are a user and you suffer form anxiety you would be better off drastically reducing the amount you take.
Tips to Overcome Anxiety
At first, it may be that even tackling anxiety could make you anxious. This will decrease with time so be patient with yourself. While there is no magic cure for anxiety there are ways you can help yourself:
- Concentrate on the here and now. Focus on the present. Anxiety cannot exist in the present so stay clear of ‘what ifs” and tell yourself you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it
- Avoid becoming too dependent on others and asking them to solve your problems for you.
- If there are situations that trigger you work towards overcoming them in time: set easily achievable targets, make a step by step plan and go at your own pace (never rush!)
- Learn relaxation techniques such as self-hypnosis and meditation (especially mindfulness practices)
- Give yourself time off. Do something you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while.
- Take a step back and have a good look at your life: what is more important? shed the rest
- If someone is making too many demands on you work out a way to talk to them without laying blame
- Exercise! Even if it’s just walking, exercise helps relieve tension
- Stop smoking, reduce caffeine and alcohol
- Become aware of your negative thinking patterns: identify and challenge exaggerated worries and pessimistic thoughts
- Talk to a trusted friend about how you feel or see a professional such as a counselor/psychotherapist/hypnotherapist
- Start working on your anxiety now by asking yourself the following questions
Am I looking at the entire picture? Are there any more useful ways I could look at the situation?
Do I apply the same standards to myself as I do to others?
What would I say to a friend / a loved one who said the same things I say?
Would I talk to others the same way I talk to myself?
If I wasn’t feeling like this what would I say about the situation?
Am I interpreting the situation this way because of my feelings about it rather than the bare facts?
What would I say about this looking back six months from now?
Is what I am telling myself helping me feel better? If not, what would?
The above techniques are very effective in learning how to cope with your anxiety. The more you practice them the more results you will get. If you need extra help and support implementing these changes feel free to contact me for a no-obligation consultation now. Call 075 44247800 or email me to book an appointment.
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