Changes you can make to tackle your anxiety
They say that knowing your enemy is the key to defeating it. What can we say about anxiety, and how do we use that to our advantage to win through?
We live busy lives with many competing demands; family, work, home, friends and so forth. It is not surprising to see that we all feel some anxiety in our lives at different times as events unfold. This becomes a problem if the anxiety prevents you living your life as fully as you would like. Perhaps you avoid situations, find it difficult to stop worrying or think that your worries are unrealistic.
The first thing to know about anxiety and depression is they are the most common mental health conditions in the UK today. Often the stigma of mental health stops people asking for help, yet there are a range of things that we know work well individually or in combination to aid recovery. The hardest step is often saying 'I need help', by talking to friends, family, your GP or a counsellor.
One of the hardest symptoms of anxiety that people find to manage is the unhelpful, unwanted thoughts that seem to circle in your head. Anxiety can skew our perception of simple events and remarks and we can spend hours, even days, re-living it. By learning to challenge these thoughts, what makes that thought true and what makes it not true, you can replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.
Physical exercise makes a big difference. Studies have shown that exercising has a lasting effect on your anxiety. There is also evidence to show that physically active people have a lower instance of anxiety and depression than those with less active lifestyles, so taking a little aerobic exercise, or even a brisk walk, can make a big difference.
When we feel anxious or start to panic, our breathing pattern changes, and we will take short, shallow breaths. By taking control of your breathing you can reverse the symptoms of anxiety. You do this by taking slow, deep breaths in, filling your whole chest. Hold for a count of three then exhale slowly, relaxing your mouth, face, shoulders and jaw. Try this a few times and you should start to feel the anxiety symptoms recede.
If you find that the breathing techniques make a difference for you, it may be worthwhile checking out meditation and mindfulness as both of these daily practices have excellent records when it comes to reducing and controlling anxiety.
Knowing what you do when anxiety strikes can make the uncertain nature of the condition much easier to live with. You give yourself back some control as to what you will do in case of an attack. It can help to talk to someone about what you feel your triggers are for your anxiety, and how you might control the feelings around those triggers. Building a toolkit to cope gives you the leavers that put you in control and help you defeat your enemy.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author, living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice, he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.