Feeling overwhelmed by the demands of your life ? – Exhausted because that anxious brain won’t switch off at night?
Unable to really relax? – Feeling anxious because that there is always more to do, never really being good enough, waiting to be found-out, feeling like a fraud?
That anxious brain can exhaust and overwhelm us at any time. Not wanting to go to the supermarket for fear of seeing someone we know. Hating the idea of standing in the queue at the Post Office feeling that everyone is staring.
The feeling of ‘not good enough’ frequently makes us feel ‘why bother, I’m no good, what’s the point, I can’t do it’. Constantly reinforcing those feelings makes it difficult to think any other way. This can stop us applying for a promotion at work, make sitting an exam a huge ordeal or even make us feel sick as we walk into a meeting at work, that churning, tight feeling in the pit of the stomach.
The problem becomes the problem, working against us to reinforce the negative thinking. The thinking that intends to protect us from danger, from the enemy. But often the anxious brain is protecting us from a perceived threat not a real one, which means that we are constantly on alert.
This heightened state of alert can cause us to imagine that almost everything in our world is a possible threat to our survival. As such, we tend to see everyone and everything as a potential enemy. We may overreact to the slightest comment or situation. Our fear is exaggerated. Our thinking distorted. We see everything through the filter of possible danger. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world.
I experienced this when I was out with a friend recently, she heard a screech of delight from another friend, but instantly panicked and assumed that something dreadful had happened. She was shaking and breathing very fast, very close to tears, until she managed to regain control again because she eventually realised that all was ok.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are lots of different ways that we can start to minimise these feelings. With the example of my friend above, once she understood and recognised those feelings, she could start to make a difference. My four top tips are listed below:
No 1 – Take time out
It’s impossible to think clearly when we’re flooded with fear or anxiety. The first thing to do is take time out so we can physically calm down. I know it can be difficult to do this but a distraction can really make a difference – distraction from the worry for 15 minutes can help to manage the anxiety. This could be just taking a walk outside, sometimes a change of environment can really help. Other ideas are making a cup of tea or having a bath and while doing this really think about the good things – the taste of the tea, the lovely smell of the bubbles in the bath.
No 2 – Breathe through the panic
When we are anxious we start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it. If we can just stop, stay where we area and simply feel the panic without trying to distract away or fight it. Place the palm of one hand on your stomach and breathe slowly and deeply. It is really useful to make the in breath shorter than the out breath. This will trigger changes in the brain and tell it that everything is ok. The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away. It does take practice but I have seen clients physically change in front of my eyes when they work on this.
No 3 – Visualise a happy place
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm. It could be a picture of walking on a beautiful beach, or snuggled up in bed with the cat, or a happy memory from childhood. Let the positive feelings soothe you until feelings change to being more relaxed. My happy place is a beautiful beach on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. I picture myself sitting on a rock there and remember the warmth of the sun, the feel of the breeze and the sound of the sea. It always helps me.
No 4 – Talk about it
Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. If talking to a partner, friend or family member is difficult, there are lots of other people available to talk to. It is great to see the Princes William and Harry talking about how they struggled with the death of their mother. They are proving that it is good to talk, and particularly good for men to talk. Did you know that men are far more likely to bottle up these feelings? I’ve worked with a number of men who have found it so useful to have someone to talk to about how they are feeling.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful and sometimes just a bit of practice is needed – If it doesn’t help first time, try again, it will get easier. It really is worth talking to someone about your worries, there are lots of people out there who are trained to help. It’s also helpful to find the underlying reasons for the anxious brain responses, and those trained people can help you with this.
Change is possible today
If you would like to talk more about anxiety and how it can change, contactme either through my e mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 023 8073 2973 or 07890 141889.