Is dealing with anxiety a challenge for you? Wondering how to stop anxiety? Unsure of how to cope with anxiety?
Are you worried about the future? Do you live in fear of things going wrong? Are you constantly worried about situations that you can’t control? Is anxiety dominating your life?
Anxiety is possibly one of the most crippling emotions that you can experience. At times it can feel like you are fighting a loosing battle with a ghost as you are often worried about events that you fear might happen or things that you can not control. From the fear of people’s judgements to the possibility that your gas appliance might explode, to the fear of making that one mistake that you think might cost you your job, anxiety makes it hard to stay calm and make the most of life.
How to cope with anxiety
Coping with anxiety can be difficult for many people as it can be a very powerful and overwhelming emotion particularly if catches you unprepared.
Following are six steps to cope with anxiety if you are suddenly feeling anxious and need to calm down. They are more like a first aid Why six and not the usual 5 steps? Because 6 means, victory, achievement and success.
This step requires the use of your imagination and is based on the 1st psychological law (there are 10), which states that every image has a motor element. In other words, images can bring about changes in the mind/ psyche. This can be used to re-frame some of the anxiety symptoms that you might be experiencing. For example, if anxiety gives you butterflies in your tummie, imagine that you are a butterfly: where would it take you? what might you do? This can feel very freeing, relaxing and identify blocks which are linked to your anxiety. If you are on edge, picture yourself within safe distance of mountain edge. As you are looking around, notice what is surrounding you: green trees, blue skies, the fresh air. If the elements of nature could speak to you, what would they say to you? Let the tree or the wind speak to you about your anxiety and see what wisdom they hold?
Most of the time anxiety is caused by fears you may have about the future, which causes your mind to run riots. Shifting your focus to the present moment and your external reality is one of the best ways do get away from your mind. Grounding is perfect to achieve this. All you need to do is the following:
5 things you can touch
4 things you can see
3 things you can hear
2 thing you can taste
1 thing you can smell
Focus your attention on your breath, keep breathing in and out and aim to find a natural rhythm for your breath. This is an obvious one and works for most people but for some it will increase their anxiety further. Try and see how you get on. If your anxiety increases, don’t be alarmed. The reason for this is that breath can energise as well as calm our organism. Simply try a different way of relaxing.
Sit on a chair with legs unlocked and feet firmly on the ground. Now push your feet into the ground, as best and as safely as you can, and really become aware of the contact you are making with the floor. Imagine that your anxiety is being channelled through your body and into the floor. A variation of this exercise is to gently stamp your feet into the ground. As you do so imagine that your anxiety gets shaken off your legs and feet and absorbed into the ground. You can also place your hand on the table and press your fingertips into the surface.
If your anxiety escalates to the point that it is turning into a panic attack, start saying the alphabet in.. reverse! The concentration required to do this will help detract your attention from the surging panic. You can also recite your favourite poem in reverse line by line.
Humans can learn a great deal by observing the animal kingdom. Peter Levine, Psychologist and Biophysicist, derived his techniques to heal trauma from closely observing animal behaviour in the aftermath of traumatic events.
The following exercise is designed to help you step back from your anxiety. Sit down, place a pillow on your lap and close your eyes. Ground yourself by becoming aware of the chair supporting your body and the floor supporting your feet. Imagine you are on a farm and as you walk around you discover a variety of pets and animals. There is a male, female and baby for each type. Find the one that you feel more drawn to and imagine that this baby animal is just as anxious as you are. Visualise the baby animal coming onto your lap. Now hold the cushion as if it were your favourite pet or animal. Think of yourself as being the parent of this baby animal. What would they do to soothe the little one? Would they stroke them, hug them, lie next to them and make comforting noises? You can also ask the animal what it needs and then imagine that you are providing it for them.
The 6 steps above are strategies to help you contain and reduce your anxiety
Depending on your personality and preference some strategies will work better than others. There are also occasions when additional help might be needed. Talking to a professional in complete confidence can not only help you to soothe your anxiety but also understand the causes and build a stronger, more confident personality that can triumph over anxiety.
- In England women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety compared to men
- Common mental health problems such as anxiety disproportionately affect people of a poorer or disadvantaged background
- Anxiety, depression and stress are the major causes of work related sickness and cost the UK economy 70 million days of work each year
- In the 2013 UK wellbeing survey nearly 1 in 5 adults showed symptoms of anxiety and depression
- In 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety disorders
- In 2013 to 2014 work related stress, depression and anxiety accounted for 39% of all work related illnesses
- Unemployed people in the UK are 4 to 10 times more likely to develop anxiety and depression (2008 Health Work and Well-being Programme review)
- In 2011 one in seven gay and bisexual men were experiencing moderate to severe levels of mixed depression and anxiety (Stonewall survey)
- In 2012, a total of 202 General Practitioners in the United Kingdom reported that 84% of their consultations were attributed to issues with stress and anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety
The physical symptoms
- pain in your chest
- loss of appetite
- feeling faint
- lack of appetite
- increased use of toilet
- feeling sick
- pounding heartbeat
- faster breathing
- feeling tense
The psychological symptoms:
- feeling tearful
- needing constant reassurance from others
- feeling worried or unease
- struggling to sleep
- unable to concentrate
- feeling irritable
- being highly alert
- struggling to relax
- feeling on edge
What causes anxiety?
The causes of anxiety are several and they can vary from person to person
The present or the future
It is quite possible, that you have always felt confident and relaxed since the day you were born but are feeling increasingly anxious as a result of changes or uncertainty in your life. This might be because your job is at risk and with it the security of your home and family, for example.
Research has also shown that there might be a link between anxiety and disparity of income between men and women. A recent study conducted in the US shows that women who earn less than men are 2.5 time more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Whilst among women whose income equalled or exceeded that of their male counterparts, the odds of the same diagnosis were the same as those of men.
You may have reached the stage in life, where you are questioning the meaning and purpose of your existence and are taking stock of your life to date. As you are feeling unsure about the next part of your life, you may be feeling more anxious than you normally do.
If you were raised in a home where you witnessed or experienced violence and abuse, it is likely that you were constantly feeling anxious because as a result of having to be alert to potential danger. Even if you are an adult now, there may still be a part of you who feels just as anxious now as you did when you were a child or an adolescent. It could also be that your family functioned well overall but your parents were not sufficiently present when you were feeling anxious or that they simply did not know how to help you stay calm. Your parents may have raised you with the best intentions but may have lacked the ability to reassure you.
Clients can experience systemic anxiety. This happens if you were raised in a family with high levels of stress or conflict. Without realising, you may have absorbed the anxiety that your relatives were feeling and have been carrying this with you to this day.
Humans can experience existential anxiety. Differently from other creatures on the planet human beings have a high level of awareness. This enables us to question the meaning and purpose of our existence. The lack of clear cut answers to such a fundamental question or the fear of death can increase our anxiety. Calamities such as the Grenfell Tower fire, the terrorist attack at London Bridge and the Ariana Grande concert, can also cause our anxiety to rise. Atrocities such as these make us fear for our safety and the the mere thought that they might reoccur arouse our fight and flight response even after the event has passed and we are physically safe. As terrorism is designed to disrupt our way of life, we might feel that our values are threatened, which can give rise to collective anxiety.
Stress, exhaustion, drugs and alcohol, excessive sugar, caffeine, energy drinks as well as the side effects of some medications can cause you to feel extremely anxious. In 2014 a systematic review by O’Neil et al., found that a higher intake of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed food products can worsen mental health in children or adolescents, with a strong focus on depression and anxiety.
What’s the potential behind anxiety?
A natural high
It is completely normal to feel very anxious from time to time. You may be feeling anxious before a job interview, for instance. In this case, feeling a slight level of anxiety might push you to revise harder to avoid failing. Feeling a little anxious prior to an exam, can help you to stay more alert and focus your attention. It is like a natural high, which can carry you through the interview or test. However, if you are feeling extremely anxious, you will struggle to concentrate, come across as nervous and feel less confident.
What is trying to unfold?
As a Psychosynthesis therapist, I like to look at anxiousness in a positive way. I like to think of it as a signal that is prompting you to enter into a constructive dialogue with yourself to understand your needs. I am interested in what is trying to emerge from within you when you are feeling anxious. Yes, you are feeling anxious but that’s only part of you and there is so much more that you can be. Your imagination here can be really useful. Try to picture this anxiety as a shape, an object, an animal or a plant, observe them closely and journal about their characteristics and qualities. As you are doing so, how has your anxiety changed?
Recent findings by French researchers show that feeling anxious could be good for you if you are faced with a crisis. Until now, it was believed that feeling highly anxious might impair the brain’s ability to process threats. However, the above research has shown that levels of non clinical anxiety cause the brain to processes threats via its motor circuits responsible for action instead of the sensory circuit (linked to recognition). Levels of non-clinical anxiety might therefore enable you to take action more readily if you are in a crisis. It remains to be seen whether the same applies to clinical levels.
The work needed to overcome anxiety can broadly be summed up in three steps
1. Become aware of the symptoms
Working with an anxiety therapist can help you become aware of when you are feeling anxious and what that is like for you. This can be done by getting you to understand the symptoms and help you spot when and where they occur. By observing when and where you are feeling anxious and how that feels, you are taking a step back. In doing so, you are starting to open the door to change.
2. Become aware of what causes anxiety
A therapist can help you understand, explore and overcome the causes of anxiety. The causes vary from person to person and can depend on
- your upbringing and childhood (often linked to separation anxiety)
- relationship problems
- your family
- work problems
- pressure from society and social media
- your lifestyle
- use of drugs and medication
- living conditions
3. Make changes
Awareness alone is usually not enough to change your behaviour. Based on the new understanding of yourself, counselling can help you make changes in your life so you can find ways of beating anxiety, feel calmer, more confident and assertive in relationships. The changes needed will vary from person to person.
What are the benefits of having counselling and psychotherapy for anxiety?
As well as helping you feel more relaxed, counselling and psychotherapy can help you increase your confidence in relationships, at work and enable you to feel more at ease when socialising. Feeling less anxious means that it is easier to make the right decisions and to assert yourself. You will also learn about the following tools and approaches, which you can take away with you.
- Gain greater awareness of what causes you to feel anxious
- Use your increased awareness to develop your way of overcoming anxiety
- Develop acceptance and compassion towards yourself
- Identify safe anchors within yourself so you can stay grounded
- Discover and apply healthy and natural ways of reducing and beating anxiety
- Overcome critical thoughts and negative inner dialogues and develop positive thoughts and supportive inner dialogues.
How does anxiety counselling work?
Conscious, unconscious, past and present
For anxiety counselling to work, it is important to address all levels of the psyche. As well as listening and empathising with you, I will address your problems at both conscious and unconscious level. Together we will also look at how the past is impacting your present.
Working consciously means using strategies to help you manage the symptoms you are experiencing. Strategies may include breathing exercises, affirmations, changing your internal dialogue and stress management strategies, to name a few.
Working at an unconscious level means working with aspects of yourself that fall outside of your immediate awareness. The easiest way to do this is by using imagery, symbols and dreams. Working at an unconscious level, can help you overcome anxiety without necessarily needing to find the root causes. This way of working is easier than it sounds. I provide clear guidance and give clients a choice about how we work together.
Clients sometimes assume that working at an unconscious levels means to systematically explore the past and particularly childhood. However the unconscious is much more than just the early years of you life. When it is necessary to look at your childhood, I use fractional analysis meaning that you only need to explore aspects of your past that are related to your current problems.
Anxiety Counselling West London
Have you been wondering: “Can anxiety be cured?” Are you looking for a therapist who offers treatment without medication?
Treatment without medication is about increasing awareness, understanding and overcoming the causes and promoting changes in behaviour. This natural treatment can be combined with a range of natural remedies.
As a private therapist I offer counselling and psychotherapy to help you deal with the symptoms as well as the causes so that you can feel more relaxed and confident. Private counselling and psychotherapy sessions are held in West London near the following locations: Shepherds’ Bush (W12), Holland Park (W8), Hammersmith (W6), Notting Hill (W11), North Kensington (W10), Ladbroke Grove, Chiswick (W4), East Acton (W3) and Willesden Junction (NW10).
Online Anxiety Help
Online Counseling and psychotherapy sessions are also available via skype and whatsapp. You can also get therapy over the telephone.
me today to book an initial session and take the first step towards reducing your anxiety and living a worry free life. My phone number is +44 (0) 7413 465 168 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org .