Anxiety – back to basics
Anxiety is a strong survival system that has its place in keeping us safe. It can create the necessary state in our bodies that lets us respond to emergencies. This helps if we are attacked or our house catches fire. It also warns us whenever there is a threat. Yet this means we feel anxious in the dentist surgery, before an exam or when speaking in public.
Anxiety can strike any of us at any age in our lives. What happens when we become overwhelmed by anxious feelings and see threat in almost all of our daily actions? It can feel overwhelming when you go to sleep concerned and anxious and wake up with anxious thoughts the next day. Indeed we can begin to be fear our anxiety.
Many people feel very alone in their anxiety, yet around 1 in 8 of us suffers at any time. It can be a very isolating experience. People feel helpless and feel there is nothing they can do but surrender to their emotions hoping it gets better. Yet there are some things that you can do. It will start to make a difference. It’s always good to know the basics of dealing with anxious feelings.
Understand how anxiety works.
Anxiety as mentioned above is about keeping us safe, so why is it so harmful. When you have a threat you can fight it or run away (fight or flight). Yet modern life can overwhelm us and we feel we can’t get away from the threats, what if I lose my job, have no money etc. The system is permanently set to threat, with all of the physical and mental changes that makes in your body. It can be helpful to notice if there are particular things (triggers) that start or make your feelings worse.
Challenge your thoughts
Often in anxiety we make assumptions, we indulge in fortune telling (something will happen even though we have no evidence) or very black and white thinking. It is useful to take time to give yourself another perspective. Notice how you are feeling about the situation. What is the anxious thought? Are there facts that make that thought true? Where are the facts that mean that thought can’t be true? Now is there a different way of looking at the situation? How do you feel about that?
Look after yourself
It seems counter intuitive to slow down, do things for yourself with so much to be done, so many things that could fail. Yet meditation or relaxation will help you to control your thought process and put you back in charge. It can be important to get out, go for a walk take a step back from the anxiety and do something for yourself.
Talk to someone
Talking therapies are effective with anxiety and you could think about talking to someone: a trusted friend, a helpline, your GP or a counsellor, all can help and listen. It can really help as you move forward and challenge your anxiety in order that you get back to feeling more normal.