Is anxiety blighting your life?
Anxiety is, for many people, a common problem. Whether it's anxiety about new situations, meeting people, exams or speaking in public, anxiety can have crippling effects upon our lives. A number of individuals experience anxious feelings when there appears to be little or no evident reason for it. Although many people experience similar anxiety, related symptoms, factors such as personal circumstances, the level of support available and their environment will also affect the individual’s experience of anxiety and how they are able to deal with it.
Many of the symptoms of anxiety feel like fear. We all have a fear response built into us to keep us safe. Often referred to as the 'fight or flight' response, physically our body is prepared to either run away from danger or face and attack it. We need this response, however; it becomes a problem when we experience the fearful feelings and there is no actual danger.
Common symptoms of anxiety
- heart palpitations
- dry mouth
- muscle tension
- rapid or erratic breathing
- feeling light-headed
- frequently needing the toilet
- nausea, stomach fluttering/churning
- panic attacks (a sudden intense attack of anxiety - either in a situation that is likely to make you feel anxious or, seemingly, for no reason at all)
Anxiety help and support
Talking about one's anxiety can be difficult. Sadly, many people, particularly males, believe it is a sign of weakness and are embarrassed to admit they are suffering. The response we get from others too, even those we are close to, can influence whether we are open about it or not. They may not understand, especially if they themselves have never suffered from anxiety. Being told to ‘snap out of it’ can be one of the worst responses to someone who is feeling anxious. Such attitudes can lead to people hiding how they feel and not asking for the support they need and deserve.
If anxiety is blighting your life, the first thing to do is to acknowledge it and seek help. Speak with your GP or another health professional who can offer advice and support. Speak with family and friends and ask for their support too.
There are things you can do to help yourself manage your anxiety. If the root of your anxiety is a particularly traumatic experience, then addressing and working through this with a professional may be something you could consider doing. Clearing past trauma can be very cathartic for many people.
In addition to medical advice/intervention, there are a number of different therapeutic options available. We are all individuals, and so what is right for one person may not be right for another. Make enquiries about what is available, and consider what might be appropriate for you. Ask around to ascertain what has helped others.
Hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) have been used successfully to help alleviate anxiety and stop panic attacks for many people. A good therapist will be happy to offer you a no-obligation consultation to discuss the situation with you in the first instance. You will then be in a better position to consider if that particular therapy is right for you.
Things you can do to help yourself
- Make some time to get outdoors in the fresh air. Being in a peaceful natural environment helps to calm the body and the mind.
- Exercise! Moving your body will help you to remain supple. Exercise can take your mind off the things that are making you feel anxious, as well as giving your mood a lift. If you are agoraphobic and going outdoors isn’t an option for you, then do some type of exercise indoors. Any movement is good and will help to boost the ‘feel good’ hormones in your brain.
- Regulate your breathing. Very often when we are anxious our breathing is fast and shallow. Breathing deeply enough (not too deep) will help.
- Listen to music that either calms you or that lifts your heart. The right type of music can be an excellent way of calming your mind and your body.
When you’re feeling anxious or low, look around you and notice things in your environment that you are fortunate to have in your life right now.
Start to engender an ‘attitude of gratitude’ by beginning each day saying ‘thank you’ for at least three things. Before you go to sleep at night, think back through your day and say ‘thank you’ for anything positive or something that you have appreciated during the day.
Try to get a good night’s sleep. Resting your mind and body is a crucial factor in how you feel. Put your phone and laptop away at least an hour before going to bed so that your mind is not over-stimulated. No heavy meals for at least two hours before going to bed too.
If you suffer from panic attacks, one of the initial symptoms is a dry mouth. So, make sure you have moisture in your mouth at all times. Caffeinated drinks are known as ‘liquid stress’, so it needs to be water or weak juice. If you don’t have any water to hand, imagine you are biting into a chunk of a bright yellow, freshly-cut lemon. Your saliva glands should soon ensure you have a moist mouth after that!
Finally, just knowing that you are doing something about your anxiety can in itself help you to feel better.
I wish you well.
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