Anxiety is, perhaps not surprisingly, a common condition in our age. So, if you struggle with it know that you are not alone. Whether it’s caused by energy bills and the cost of living crisis or bereavement and coping on your own, anxiety can overcome any of us at any time and there’s no shame in admitting it.
“Anxiety can come in the form of social anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder or general anxiety, that hangs around like an unwelcome guest,” explains Lee Pycroft, Human Givens Psychotherapist and Goldster presenter. “Some people will be more aware of some symptoms than others but what defines anxiety is a feeling of dread and fear and catastrophic imaginings.”
So what can be done? Well apart from going to see the GP for advice there are strategies that work to mitigate anxiety.
Lee says “Get specific on what the trigger is. Writing down exactly what the activating agent is will help break down the challenge and how you can overcome it. Anxiety, can feel overwhelming, so we need to implement coping skills to calm the nervous system down in anxiety provoking situations and have a plan in place.
”Focus on your breath and diaphragm – when you inhale the diaphragm moves down, the heart gets a little bigger and heart rate increases. When you breathe out the diaphragm moves up, the heart gets a little smaller and heart rate decreases. Use the body to calm the mind” continues Lee.
Another way to calm down is to go for a soothing stroll – preferably in nature – but even round the block - can help. Whilst you are walking, breathe in rhythm with your steps – in to a count of five, and out to a count of seven, the out breath needs to be two counts longer than the in breath. “Counting will help you focus your mind onto something helpful and sends another signal that things can’t be that threatening or you wouldn’t be counting!” says Lee.
According to Lee the symptoms of anxiety present in three ways:
- Physical Symptoms – namely heart rate, tension, cold sweaty palms, nausea, dry mouth, sleep, shallow breathing.
- Psychological – worry, difficulty concentrating, mind going blank, dread, racing thoughts.
- Behavioural – nervousness, avoidance inhibition.
And the more severe the anxiety the more numerous the symptoms will be.
Is there a Thinking style that fuels anxiety?
“The way in which we can explain negative events to ourselves and others have a bearing on whether we are likely to struggle with excessive anxiety. High emotion leads to extreme, catastrophic all or nothing thinking, but there is also a thinking style that can be jet fuel for anxiety and that is the three P’s.” advises Lee
How personally do you take events? “Many anxious people can be overly self-blaming so we need to be aware if we are doing this.
How pervasive do you think the effects will be? If one area of your life is challenging, we need to focus on areas that are still working.
How permanent do you think the effects will be? Nothing in life stays the same so we need to have the emotional flexibility to see change as a possibility.” Advises Lee.
Finally, don’t suffer anxiety quietly and alone, talk to someone. Goldster can help you mitigate the symptoms of anxiety and help you find the tools to a calmer life.
Written by Bethan Cole