Coping with anxiety

I'm sure you may be aware that many of us suffer from anxiety at some point in our lives; anxiety which is serious enough to prevent us from carrying on with our normal, everyday life. I can share with you that I have personal experience of having debilitating stress-related anxiety on two separate occasions in my life as a result of the loss of my mother and going through a divorce.


During these times I derived significant benefit from practising the skill of physical and mental relaxation.

By training, qualifying, and practising as a relaxation counsellor, I was able to use this experience in my counselling role, giving support to many individuals who had encountered severe anxiety resulting in them feeling helpless and depressed, not knowing what to do. A lot of these clients felt that they were at the 'end of the road', thinking there was not much hope for them.

However, by learning the skill of physical and mental relaxation, they have felt that they have been able to reduce their anxiety to an acceptable level and begin to enjoy a happier quality of life. Prolonged anxiety is very debilitating and can result in tension headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, a lack of confidence, and low self-esteem.

Experiencing the symptoms of anxiety can be very frightening and worrying for clients, particularly if they experience a 'panic attack' which can present many forms of discomfort. Not understanding the nature of a panic attack can often present a client with thoughts of "what is happening to me?", imagining that they are dying, for instance. This is when talking through one's fears with a therapist can provide immeasurable comfort, help, and support.

It is my belief that learning these skills and sharing one's difficulties has enabled many of my clients to pick up on their lives and return to a sense of normality. This self-help technique is, I believe, an important tool to combat the 'ills' of stress-related anxiety.

Here is an example of how a client was helped and supported by learning the skill of physical and mental relaxation. Whilst this client initially had reservations about how learning this skill was going to help with her anxiety, she was open-minded and was prepared to give it a go.

Following the sudden death of her father, my client found this extremely devastating and stressful as she was the one to find him lying on the floor when she visited. She thought at that time that he had fainted, however, when the ambulance arrived, she was told that her father was dead. This stressful shock was made worse by the fact that she was late visiting her father (who lived alone) because she then felt that if she had been there earlier, she might have been able to 'save' him. She said she was left with strong feelings of guilt because of this.

It was through several sessions of counselling, including learning the skill of physical and mental relation, that this client was able to reflect and put her guilty feelings about being late to see her father into perspective and accept that he had a heart condition which meant that this could have happened at any time.

This client felt that her anxiety relating to her father's death was considerably reduced by learning the skill of relaxation, which enabled her to experience a 'switching off' from her guilty feelings and, in turn, helped her to come to terms with the loss of her father.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Llantwit Major, South Glamorgan, CF61
Written by Risha Stapleton, MBACP,Dip Counselling/Social Work,Msc Econ
Llantwit Major, South Glamorgan, CF61

I am a practising Counsellor/therapist and have been offering counselling support and the teaching of relaxation methods for many years

My qualifications consist of :-
Diploma in Agency Counselling
Certificate in the Teaching of Relaxation and Stress Management
BACP Certificate of Proficiency
Diploma Social Work
Msc. Econ. & Social Studies

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