Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. The signs can be hidden behind other words too - concern, apprehension, uneasiness, disquiet, agitation, angst and trepidation to name but a few. In general, the stronger our desire to do something, for something to happen or not to happen, the greater our anxious feelings can be. Anxiety expresses itself through both our emotional and the physical sensations and although we can find it disagreeable, it stems from our normal biological reaction to feeling threatened.
It is an everyday experience and can be triggered by thoughts of a stressful event or a decision to be made, especially one that will greatly influence your life. Examples include sitting an exam, going into hospital or facing an illness, a job interview or starting a new job, having a baby or deciding to get married or divorced. It is understandable to worry about these situations and for a short time it may be difficult to function normally. Eating, sleeping or concentration can be affected as well as the body becoming tense and heart beating quickly. Normally, when the perceived threat has passed, the body returns to normal functioning. However, if your feelings of anxiety are very strong or persist, they can become overwhelming for you and may lead to panic attacks or other more severe symptoms.
The roots of anxiety can be buried in your past and so there isn't necessarily a magic instant cure, however you can learn how to better manage it through some of the following actions.
- Centered breathing - slowly breathe in (count of eight), hold (count of four) and slowly breathe out (count of eight).
- Relaxation - pamper yourself with a hot bath, a walk in the park, a massage or take a quiet moment.
- Aerobic exercise - make it easy and fun, ie: light jogging, fast walking, dog walking, gardening.
- Find your triggers - learn what triggers your anxiety and how to keep your negative thoughts at bay.
- Talk to someone friendly - choose good people you can trust and who will be supportive.
- Feel good vibrations - listen to your favourite music or music that helps you feel how you would like to feel.
- Get up and go wild - find a safe place to be alone and then go wild in a fun way (jump, bounce).
- Live for now - embrace your anxiety, live the best and most fulfilling life that you can with it.
Some of these techniques you may find more appealing than others. Use the ones that fit best with you and your lifestyle and remember that frequent practise will be most helpful to counter your anxiety.
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About Michael Burnell
Michael is an experienced counsellor working with normal people, supporting them through a wide range of life and mental health issues. He encourages a balanced life-view however large clients' challenges may seem to them. A BACP member, he provides short and long term, single and couples, counselling in the Yeovil / Taunton area of Somerset.