What is anxiety?
The thing about anxiety is that a person feels fear but has no idea why they are feeling panic. Your breathing increases and your heart rate goes up, you can go hot or cold and tremble. Something is happening to you right now, yet you are helpless to prevent it.
Anxiety is a debilitating condition that can leave you confused and upset.
Without suitable management, anxiety can lead to depression and isolation, a change in behaviour, a change in eating habits, nail-biting and in some cases, even an increase in alcohol consumptions or drug use.
People can feel that there is something inherently wrong with them. With anxiety, you can't always explain it away - not like a phobia or a more understood 'condition' - while some people can say its because of this or that, only when they come into an experience that is fearful for them, do they feel this anxiety.
The nameless fear known as anxiety that changes a person's state is not something you can make sense of. There is a part of you, however, that knows that there is nothing to fear, right now. It's just that when anxiety takes over, the other part of you cannot think rationally.
Now, the part of you that knows that everything is actually OK, will generally give the 'other you' a hard time, a critical time. This inner voice can make you feel even worse. The shame and guilt you inflict on yourself can make it impossible to think in a rational, calm manner.
This is because panic shuts down the frontal cortex in the brain (the thinking, conscious part) and so, you just 'react' instead (fight, flight or freeze).
My advice to anyone with anxiety is to first become kind to yourself. Speak to yourself as you would a very good friend. For example, you may say: "Hey it's OK. Don't worry, I'm here" (literally as if there are two of you).
Next, don't make yourself do things for a while. There is always a choice and if you really don't feel like doing something, then don't do it. Ask yourself what you would like to do instead (it's important here that this is a short-term approach, not a lifelong outlook).
By doing this, you are actually integrating parts of your brain while you focus attention with your mind and as a result, diminishing the anxiety.
Over time, as you do more things like going to the shops, speaking to someone new, helping someone out, make sure that you process these things and acknowledge your own strength. Recognise and celebrate your compassion, your courage - it may sound confusing, but it's simply talking to yourself in a nice way, as you would a friend.
Gradually, you can build your inner strength. You will begin to gain a clearer understanding of your own self and begin to do more with your life.
Hypnotherapy can be an effective technique for managing anxiety. By seeking the root cause of your anxiety, a therapist can work with you to understand your anxiety, recognise your triggers and teach you the steps you can take to manage these feelings.
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About Johanna Rogers
Jo Rogers is a hypnotherapist and psychotherapist based in Helston, Cornwall. A former teacher and nursery nurse she is skilled with the treatment of children's issues as well as adults behavioural, emotional and physical problems.