More and more people are seeking help from their GPs for anxiety and being put on medication. Whilst medication can be very useful in reducing the symptoms to get on with daily life, it doesn’t address the root of the anxiety.
What is anxiety?
It is a feeling of dread, worry or fear which can become the normal response to a range of different situations. Anxiety sufferers can feel debilitated and crippled by their fears affecting their mental health and quality of life. What exacerbates it is that many people don’t know the root of their anxiety, which causes even more fears that they may be stuck with it for the rest of their life.
What causes anxiety?
The root of anxiety is a response to fight or flight response of the nervous system. This is a useful and automatic response in times of danger when we need to escape or fight the “enemy”. The body releases hormones such as adrenaline which makes us more alert to the danger so we can take action. Once the danger has passed, the body releases other hormones to calm the body. However, when a person becomes stuck in a chronic state of fight or flight, they perceive normal experiences as threatening and their body is flooded with a constant supply of stress hormones without the calming phase. During these times, our problem-solving ability is diminished which contributes the even more anxiety building up.
What does anxiety feel like?
Different people have different physical signs for anxiety. These can be butterflies in their belly, increased heart rate, sleeplessness, hyperventilating, muscular tension, fear of going out, headaches and dizziness and even diarrhoea. These are due to the fight or flight hormones released. Whilst these symptoms can be normal stress reactions, they start causing problems if they become chronic and interfere with your day-to-day life.
How to overcome anxiety
It’s important to understand what is causing your anxiety so you can take steps to address it. If there are true anxiety provoking events happening in your life then you will need to learn ways of being with what is here now until they change (see Mindfulness below).
Unhelpful thoughts can become stuck in your head creating a sense of fear and catastrophe. Finding ways of breaking this pattern of thinking through counselling will be helpful.
Breathing exercises can help to regulate your breaths physically, which can have an impact on relaxing your mind as well.
Mindfulness techniques such as being in the here and now and meditation, can also have a positive impact for some people in becoming present with their thoughts and emotions and finding a way to manage them.
How counselling can help with anxiety
Counselling allows a space where you can explore the root of events that produce anxiety, understand them and learn more helpful ways of dealings with situations. Some events in your life can be very stress and cause real anxiety whilst others may be brought on by projecting an unhelpful picture into the future causing fear to arise in the form of anxiety. The acronym FEAR is worth remembering – False Evidence Appearing Real.
Having a non-judgemental space to speak your mind freely and challenge unhelpful thoughts can be very empowering. As you gain better understanding of your situation, you may notice you become less anxious and be able to solve your problems. Part of the issue that anxious clients face is wanting to get rid of their symptoms in an attempt to feel better, thus creating a conflict between what is present with wanting to feel different.
If you are in a situation that cannot be changed, then talking about it and being seen and heard by your counsellor, may allow your anxiety to transform to a feeling of acceptance. By working with the bodily symptoms through tools such as mindfulness and slow breathing, you can become more grounded in your body allowing space for your feelings. This sense of acceptance will in turn allow the body to relax, slowing down the stress responses.
There are many ways of working with your anxiety. You don’t have to live with your debilitating symptoms. Why not arrange a FREE, NO OBLIGATION call to talk about how counselling can help.