Learn to reduce full-on anxiety 

If you have ever experienced anxiety, you will know how debilitating it can feel. You might have even thought you escaped anxiety, but it returned with a vengeance, causing restlessness, inability to carry out normal tasks, and sleepless nights. The problem with anxiety is that until you understand how it functions, it can keep you in the grips of its fear with panic attacks and many other issues. My clients have suffered the full range of physical and mental symptoms this disorder can present.


The critical voice does not help you. The voice of self-doubt that will try to convince you that you are not good enough, so you spend hours overcompensating to attempt perfectionism. Do you feel others are constantly judging you or what you do? 

Neurodivergent people can find themselves struggling even more with anxiety. Neurodivergent conditions often involve challenges with social interactions, sensory sensitivities, and atypical cognitive processing, which can contribute to heightened anxiety.

However, anxiety does not meet the criteria of a neurodivergent disorder. Research states that about 50% of autistic individuals and 80% of those with ADHD experience a mood or anxiety disorder. While this research provides valuable insights, it's important to note that further studies are needed to fully understand the relationship between anxiety and neurodivergence. It is only since the 1990s that neurodiversity has gained any understanding with the early contributions of Judy Singer.

Anxiety disorders

Generalised anxiety disorder 

If you have been worried for over six months, you may develop generalised anxiety disorder. If you have struggled most days and cannot remember when you last felt genuinely relaxed, it may be time to seek help. Symptoms include having mood swings and not getting a good night's sleep. When anxiety takes over your life, it is essential to learn how it functions to reclaim a measure of control over your thoughts. 

Anxiety hijacks your limbic system and causes fear. When you feel anxious, face your fear with a sense of curiosity. Sharing your feelings about anxiety will free the anxiety from being internal into expressed feelings that become much easier to discuss. In counselling, you learn how to build new relationships with old thought patterns and eradicate limiting beliefs. CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy, provides skills you can use to become empowered over anxiety with problem-solving skills. 

Social anxiety 

Have you ever feared social gatherings? You may have social anxiety if you are preoccupied with meeting new people or knowing what to say in a conversation.

People with social anxiety fear being criticised and have low self-esteem regarding self-worth. Feeling watched and judged at social gatherings is not unusual, so it is not easy to do anything when others are watching. The critical voice plays a significant role in those who suffer from social anxiety. However, the symptoms are common for many and can be overcome.

Panic attacks 

Panic attacks can be overwhelming until we learn how to address a constant flow of negative thoughts. During a panic attack, the amygdala sends the thinking brain offline. You cannot think your way out of a panic attack. The only way to escape a panic attack is to feel safe. Having a script written when you feel relaxed is always a good idea. These are self-affirmations to calm yourself. Focussing on your breathing is a beneficial way to calm yourself down. The way you breathe will affect how you feel. Once you can learn to breathe slowly, you diminish the fear element.

When experiencing a panic attack, it is natural to breathe rapidly, transmitting a signal to your body that you are in danger. Develop the habit of taking a slow, deep breath through the nose and exhaling by the mouth. If you place your hand on your belly, it should move as you begin inhaling and fall back as you release your breath. Distraction can be another great way of keeping anxiety in check: phone someone and chat or listen to your favourite music. 

The skills you develop will help you cope with anxiety

As an experienced trauma and anxiety counsellor, I believe one of the most effective ways I can empower my clients is psycho-education. It can be frightening for clients when things happen that they have never experienced before.

In understanding what is happening in the body, we begin eradicating some of the fear and develop tactics to work with what happens rather than struggle against the process. Life does become a lot easier knowing how to react.

Everyone is different, so first I learn about my client's unique journey in forming a working relationship. Together, we explore the presenting problems and develop a plan of action to move forward. Using CBT, we will look at thought patterns and reflect upon what comes up in the sessions. Often, the client will discover what has been holding them back or triggering them. When a negative thought or trigger emerges, time can be spent on learning how to cope with the feeling. 

Developing a new relationship with self

Once a client has understood the process involved in trauma and anxiety and begins to feel release from fear it can begin a transformational journey for them. Any thought present has to have an origin. Often, we are conditioned from childhood. Something has been said that has stuck at some point, or our developmental background has been traumatic, and we experienced moments we find hard to shift.

With professional guidance, we can learn that we do not have to act out our thoughts in a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can make a stand to become the change we want to see.

Feeling in control of life

Anxiety is worry over a potential threat causing great discomfort. The way to calm anxiety is by accepting it. When we allow anxiety to run its course without trying to fight back or panic you can prevent triggering yourself.

Learn to realise how to treat anxiety and just remind yourself my levels of anxiety are rising because I am overthinking. This is causing my nervous system to kick into high alert. When you accept this is a normal response within your body you will prevent the amygdala from being on high alert and gain more control than ever before. By learning to live with anxiety you can perform the tasks you need to complete in your daily life.

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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London W6 & E14
Written by David Pender, MBACP, Integrative Psychotherapy | Anxiety Specialist
London W6 & E14

David Pender is a mental health advocate/ writer and qualified integrative counsellor registered as a member with the BACP. David has extensive knowledge of anxiety, depression, and trauma. As a coach, David has a range of tools to keep you engaged with promoting your best life. Unsure try a free discovery call from this site.

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