Anxiety - begin to take control
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Alison Hopkins MBACP
14th January, 20140 Comments
One minute you are more or less happily bobbing along, living your life and the next, terrified and distraught. This is how some people describe anxiety, seemingly coming from nowhere.
Anxiety is a generic term for disorders that cause nervousness, fear and worry.
We all experience some kind of anxiety. It can occur in people from all sorts of backgrounds, occupations and at any time of life. Most of us can handle mild anxiety but if it becomes severe, it can be extremely debilitating and have a serious impact on everyday life.
Examples of stressors that can trigger anxiety:
life changes such as moving house, getting married, new baby
pressure of work
General worry or fear before taking an exam or going for a job interview is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. However, persistent uncontrollable concern, over say your health, the safety of loved ones or social situations, when you overestimate the danger of a particular situation and experience uncomfortable physical symptoms can be very unpleasant and will interfere with your quality of life.
So it is not the events themselves that make a person anxious, it is the interpretation and the expectations that the person attaches to those events.
In my experience, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be very effective in alleviating or eliminating anxiety disorders. The concept behind CBT is that our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel (emotionally and physically) and consequently how we behave in that situation. So while we cannot control every aspect of the world around us, CBT can help us to develop other ways of looking at things.
Once the anxiety trigger has been identified, I encourage my clients to question their negative automatic thoughts, such as:
I cannot cope and I should be able to
Something awful will happen
It's all my fault
They'll blame me.
And then questions they might ask themselves in order to identify their thinking errors which in turn causes anxiety:
am I focussing on the negative and ignoring the positive?
am I jumping to conclusions about what other people think about me?
are there some facts that support my anxious thoughts?
are there some facts that don't support my anxious thoughts?
I offer my clients practical strategies to help them to take control, including mindfulness meditation which can give them a welcome break from the thoughts and worries that cause anxiety.
Make your morning shower a mini-meditation session with mindfulness. Listen to the sound of the water and the sensation of the water on your skin. Let your anxious thoughts float away and concentrate just on what you can feel, see and hear.
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