Steps to beat anxiety
Anxiety, we all suffer from it sometimes. Perhaps it’s an exam, or the dentist, social situations, talking to strangers or your boss; we all seem to have triggers that set off that anxiety. Of course this is hardly surprising as anxiety can be a good thing, part of our normal natural defences that keep us safe. Yet if you find that anxiety is interfering with your ability to enjoy life then perhaps the time has come to take steps to tackle your anxiety and put you firmly back in the driving seat.
Anxiety making a difference
Perhaps the first step is to realise that you are not alone and that anxiety that is causing difficulties in people’s lives is surprisingly common. Anxiety can be thought of as a helpful thing; it gets us ready if we sense danger so that the body is ready to protect itself by fighting or running away (fight or flight).
Unfortunately if we become too anxious we can experience any discomfort as danger, so although there is little or no threat our minds and bodies act as though there was.
Steps to beat anxiety
Fortunately there are many practical ways that you can tackle this and gain control again.
One of the simplest steps is to think about your breathing. When we are anxious or panicked we tend to breathe quickly and take shallow breaths. If you feel yourself starting to get anxious one of the simplest things that you can do is to slow your breathing down and breathe in, taking air in to completely fill your lungs. As an example: You might think of breathing in for a count of three, holding for a count of two and breathing out for a count of four, but you should adjust to your own circumstances.
If you suffer for anxiety, then spending time on self-care is importance. Find the things that relax you and allow you to unwind. Perhaps it's reading or exercise. Maybe it’s a warm bath that soothes away the anxiety. The ‘what’ is not important, the practice of caring for yourself and your needs is. Sometimes we feel that we need to put others first, but it is important to remember that you have to be well to be able to help others.
Learn to challenge your thought processes. Often anxious thoughts will be very negative or will lead to a catastrophic conclusion. Challenge the thought: what is the evidence for that is that the way I am feeling? Or, do I have facts that support that conclusion? What can I do to change things? Perhaps ask yourself what would it be like if everything went absolutely to plan? Push your thoughts to be positive and beat the anxiety.
Finally you might want to consider speaking to a counsellor. Counsellors can help you to uncover the triggers that are behind your anxiety. The therapist can also work with you and your anxiety process and help you make changes that make you feel better. That support is often useful as you challenge old thought processes and move to new, more helpful patterns.
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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.