A Bit About Anxiety
Do you spend a lot of time worrying, feeling nervous and find it hard to relax and 'switch off', and experience unpleasant physical sensations such as 'butterflies', tension, dizziness or breathlessness?
If so, you’re probably experiencing anxiety.
The symptoms of anxiety are experienced as uncomfortable physical symptoms such as:
Increased heart rate
Feelings of breathlessness
But anxiety affects us mentally too
Anxiety has us worrying and ruminating for large periods of time. Very often we worry about lots of different things and our mind jumps around from worry to worry. This can feel extremely stressful yet it is very difficult, if not impossible, to stop.
Anxiety can also affect our behaviour
For instance, we tend to avoid doing the things that make us anxious. However, avoidance only gives us short term relief. The long term the effects of avoidance erodes our confidence and ultimately, increases our anxiety levels.
Anxiety stops us from doing many things and makes life feel very challenging.
So what causes anxiety?
Usually a combination of these factors influence our anxiety levels:
Life Events: Anxiety can develop following stressful life events. Especially, if we experience many different pressures all at once. Anxiety can result from feeling that we cannot cope with the demands of life.
Individual Thinking Manner: Anxious people have a tendency to expect the worst. They feel like they must be on guard in case something bad happens. They unconsciously believe that by thinking about all the things that could go wrong will make them better prepared to cope.
Evolutionary Reasons: Anxiety has developed to protect us and therefore has positive benefits. For example, when we are under threat or feel in danger, we automatically become anxious. As a result, our heart beats more quickly which supplies blood to our muscles (which helps us run away from or fight); we sweat (which cools us down during this process); and our breathing changes (which ensures oxygen is delivered to our muscles quickly again preparing us for a quick response).
Biological Reasons: It has also been shown that if someone in your immediate family is an anxious person there is an increased chance that you will have similar personality traits.
However, most of our anxiety is triggered by unconscious negative thoughts. This is why it is so difficult to reduce anxiety levels on our own.
The cycle of Anxiety
External stressors (triggers) produces unconscious negative thought processes which cause fear and stress and makes us worry about future perceived stressors. This cycle chips away at our confidence and reinforces our anxiety.
We become stuck in a vicious cycle of worry and anxiety.
If we want to break the cycle of anxiety we will need to:
★ Understand more about our anxiety.
★ Learn how to challenge our unhelpful thoughts.
★ Improve our problem solving skills.
★ Learn how to reduce the amount of time we spend worrying.
★ Learn how we can feel more relaxed both physically and mentally.
★ Learn how to stop avoiding the things that make us anxious.
Counselling can help you to control and reduce your anxiety by exploring and understanding the unconscious negative thoughts that have been triggering your anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is really useful to help you identify and then challenge these negative thought processes which are driving your worries and fears.
Research has shown that CBT is effective in the treatment of social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias. Counselling and CBT facilitates personal empowerment as you learn to break the cycle of anxiety.
It can also be a fantastic relief and very therapeutic to get things ‘out of your head’ and 'off your chest' as you share your worries and anxieties with a counsellor.
Talking to a counsellor can, in itself, unburden your emotional load and make your head feel a lot lighter!
suzy cohen 07496 736 879
Hi, I am a counsellor specialising in emotional difficulties including: social anxiety, panic, generalised anxiety disorder,depression and drug and alcohol addiction.