Managing Anxiety

Anxiety

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Experiencing stress and anxiety is something that we all have from time to time, but it’s when feelings of anxiety stop you from doing things in your life and begin to feel overwhelming that it’s worth exploring ways of managing the feelings differently.

There are a number of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that people can experience when they feel anxious, and Anxiety UK details some of these:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased muscle tension
  • “Jelly legs”
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (over breathing)
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tight band across the chest area
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Choking sensations
  • Palpitations

Some of the most common thoughts that people can have when they are experiencing anxiety are:

  • Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
  • Thinking that you might die
  • Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint
  • Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
  • Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
  • Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
  • Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
  • Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you

Sometimes it may be possible to identify a particular event or incident that has caused your anxiety, e.g. relationship problems; bereavement; job interview; moving house. Other times, it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what may have triggered the anxious or stressful feelings. There might also be a build up over time of different stresses.

Anxiety can put us into “fight or flight” mode, with our brain thinking that it needs to protect us from a threatening situation, even though there may not  be any real current threat. This is often a result of an outdated response linked to an event or experience in the past which may still be having an impact, and getting triggered in the present. E.g. a childhood experience of feeling embarrassed or humiliated at school when speaking out in class being linked to a fear of speaking out in a team meeting at work or delivering a presentation.

Counselling and hypnotherapy can be helpful in dealing with both the underlying causes of anxiety and in developing strategies for managing situations and feelings, so that they do not begin to overwhelm you.

Here are some of my top tips for reducing anxiety at difficult times:

  1. Focus on your breathing; slowly and deeply. Breathe in for the count of 4 and out for the count of 8
  2. Distract and occupy yourself with something else, e.g. make a cup of tea; take a bath;
  3. Take some gentle exercise, e.g. walk, yoga
  4. Talk to someone
  5. Visualise a calm peaceful place, perhaps somewhere you have been or would like to go, e.g. a beach, a lake, and imagine a bridge that you can cross in your mind that takes you there
  6. Use grounding techniques to distract yourself, such as using all your senses, e.g. noticing what is around you and saying to yourself, “The walls are white; there are four grey chairs; there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…”
  7. Describe objects, sounds, textures, colours, smells, shapes, numbers, and the temperature. This is something you can do anywhere.
  8. Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centred in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself you are connected to the ground.
  9. Remember the words to an inspiring song, quote or poem.
  10. Play a categories game with yourself, e.g. think of types of animals, names of countries that begin with the letter ‘A’ etc. This form of mental grounding can help distract you from any overwhelming feeling.

If the feelings of anxiety or stress continue, or you have been experiencing these feelings for some time and are finding it difficult to manage them, a combination of self-help using the above top tips, and seeing a professional counsellor and/or hypnotherapist can help. By having a space to talk about and explore your feelings, you will be able to gain an understanding for yourself about what the underlying causes and issues may be, and develop lasting strategies for overcoming these.

If you would like further help in resolving and managing anxiety, please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk for an initial discussion or telephone Sharon on 07936 556314

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/

(Anxiety Graphic by Adele Palmquist)

 

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Managing Emotions

power of the mind 

Managing Emotions using the Power of your Mind

There are times when it can feel as if the thoughts and feelings that we experience are overwhelming in their intensity. In my counselling and hypnotherapy work, I have found that guiding people towards changing the modality of the thought or feeling in conjunction with exploring the underlying issues, can have the effect of helping them lessen the intensity of it.

We all represent our thoughts using different senses or modalities (e.g. visually, auditory, by feeling). By creating a mental image in our mind of the thought or feeling, such as giving it a shape, a colour, a size, we can mentally adjust these modalities and change the effect that the image has, and hence change the strength of the thought or feeling.

Next time you are experiencing anxiety, anger, or any other strong emotion try this technique.  It can also be used to help with pain, such as a headache.

  1. With your eyes closed, allow yourself to become aware of the area of your body where you are experiencing the emotion (e.g. stomach, chest) or pain (e.g. head) and visualise it as an image in your mind.
  2. As you focus on the image, visualise giving it a shape.
  3. As you continue to visualise it, give the shape a colour.
  4. Now visualise the background to the shape, and give that a colour as well.
  5. Then make the shape the same colour as the background and at the same time visualise making the shape smaller and smaller. Make it so small so it’s at the point just before it disappears.
  6. Then continue to make it smaller still….so when you look all over the background and try and find the shape, you see that it’s gone.
  7. Now imagine giving healing a colour. What colour would you give it? Visualise that healing colour flowing into the background….all over….until it flows into everywhere it needs to flow for the emotion or pain to disappear.
  8. You can also visualise changing the dimensional aspect of the shape, making it a still image if it is moving, and even visualise moving it around and out of your body.

Practise this as often as you can, when you are in a relaxed state and it will become easier to do.  Please contact sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk if you would like an initial consultation at Pace Counselling & Hypnotherapy or call  07936 556314

Grounding Techniques

There are occasions when emotional pain can feel so overwhelming that it may be helpful to be able to detach from your feelings and stay safe.  In particular, if you have suffered trauma either in the past or recently, you may find yourself struggling with intrusive and disturbing memories of what happened, either feeling overwhelmed with emotions, or perhaps feeling numb and disconnected.  There are certain techniques called ‘Grounding’ which can help you regain a sense of safety and help you tolerate the emotions.  The strategies work by distracting your attention to what is going on externally around you, focussing you on the here and now.  The techniques can be a useful support alongside seeking professional counselling and/or hypnotherapy to help you deal with the underlying issues.

Grounding can be done anywhere at any time and it helps you stay in touch with the present, and not focus on the past or the future.  It is an active strategy and can help with extreme negative feelings.  Here are some grounding strategies which may be of help:

  • Look around your surroundings and focus on the detail around you. For example, observe to yourself, “The walls are cream; there are 4 green chairs etc….” “I am on the train; I am looking out of the windows and I can see gardens; I am on the Bakerloo line and the next station is……”
  • Find something around you that you can see and which appeals to you. Ask yourself what you like about it; what texture it is; what size it is; what shape it is; what colour it is.
  • Say a safety statement such as:  “My name is ………….; I am safe now.  I am in the present, not the past.  The date today is….. and I am standing in the supermarket/office/street etc………”
  • Focus on your breathing. Imagine as you breathe in a balloon inflating in your stomach, and as you breathe out, imagine the balloon deflating.
  • Play a categories game with yourself. For example, try to think of songs, animals, tv shows, countries that begin with A, B, C etc.
  • Eat something and describe the flavours to yourself in detail
  • Describe an everyday activity in detail to yourself. For example, a meal that you cook (“First I peel the onion and then slice it; then I peel some garlic; I fry the onion and garlic and then….etc”)
  • Dig your heels into the ground and feel yourself connected to the ground, or stamp your feet and notice the power in your legs as you do.

One or more of the techniques may suit you better than others and it is important to go with what works for you.  It can be useful to practise the technique(s) regularly, and you do not need to wait until you are feeling in crisis to do this.  The more frequently you can use the strategy when you are not in crisis, the more familiar you will be with it for the times when you feel overwhelmed.

If you are struggling with emotional difficulties and wish to explore the possibility of counselling and/or hypnotherapy, please e-mail sharonc@pacecounselling.co.uk or telephone 07936 556314 to arrange an initial session.

Useful Contacts:

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/