How to deal with Anxiety?
One way of thinking about an anxiety disorder is to imagine your stress levels as being like a bucket of water. If you keep adding stressors to the bucket (even tiny ones like the angry response to something or getting stuck in traffic), over time it fills up until one day it overflows. This can be a good way of looking at an anxiety attack as it explains why sometimes it can seem to come out of the blue with no significant trigger. However, what has happened is that the trigger was just a very small stressor that tipped you over the edge and allowed your bucket to overflow. What you need is a leaky bucket with lots of holes to reduce your overall stress levels. Each one of these holes could be something positive that you do to manage your anxiety, such as moving your body through walking or exercise, distraction by reading or listening to music, spending quality time with friends and loved ones and taking action to find out how hypnotherapy can change the way you respond to the triggers.
So what is anxiety?
Dealing with an Anxiety disorder is a normal part of life which can affect all of. Anxiety can affect us in different ways and at different times. Stress on the other hand is something that will come and go as the external factor causing the stress comes and goes. Click here for more information on Stress. On the other hand, anxiety is something that can persist whether or not the cause of the anxiety is clear to the sufferer. An anxiety disorder can make a person imagine that things in their life are worse than they really are, and prevent them from confronting their fears. Often they will think they are going crazy or they have some psychological problem. What is important is the recognition that the anxiety disorder they are suffering from is normal and exists due to a set of bodily functions that have existed in us from our early days as cave-men called the “fight and flight” response. The world we lived in then was full of dangers but we were equipped with an internal alarm system designed to protect us from external dangers that came with the hunter lifestyle we led at that time. This system would make us hyper-alert by giving us a boost of adrenaline that would increase the heart rate and boost the amount of oxygen going to our limbs so we were better able to fight or run from danger. The “butterflies in the stomach” feeling that many associate with anxiety is the start of this mechanism kicking in, but instead of being used to avoid immediate danger as it used to be during the caveman days it is being often wrongly and inappropriately activated in a person during normal, everyday situations when stress has built up, mostly subconsciously. Some people have a very identifiable cause for their anxiety but many people don’t have any idea where their anxiety comes from and this can make the problem worse.
Types of Anxiety
There are many different kinds of anxiety, see below for the most common types:
Generalised anxiety disorder
Where there is excessive worry about a number of events or activities and the sufferer finds it difficult to control the worry. It is usually accompanied by some of the following for some months:
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Tension in the muscles;
- Getting tired rather easily;
- Restlessness, and
- Disturbed sleep.
Where any social activity, particularly if it includes performance of any sort, is feared and embarrassment is usually felt. The phobia interferes markedly with a person’s otherwise normal routine, activities and often work. One of the greatest difficulties with social phobia is that sufferers often leave their reaction to known upcoming situations open-ended, so for example the sufferer attempts to implement avoidance where the situation simply cannot be avoided.
Intestinal Bowel Syndrome
In which the sufferer has bowel pain, constipation and diarrhoea.
Health Anxiety, where the sufferer fixates on the “dangerous” and “life threatening” nature of any form of physiological disruption, be it a simple rash, a lump, heart palpitation or inner complaint.
Panic usually occurs when the effectiveness of a protective behaviour is restricted for some reason – eg: an inability to leave (avoid) an event or place as anxiety grows. It is normally accompanied by somatic symptoms (shortness of breathing, increased heart rate, sweating etc). Catastrophic mis-interpretation of the growing symptoms (“I am going to die!”) also contributes significantly to the severity of an attack and its maintenance.
Often quoted as the fear of open spaces/places. In fact it is the logical consequence of the action of the protective survival-oriented mind to lock the individual up to completely avoid the threats of the outside world.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The primary feature of OCD is the occurrence of obsessions or compulsions which recur continuously and are time-consuming.
Obsessions may be:
- Persistent thoughts/images/impulses, and
- They are intrusive and inappropriate.
- Repetitive behaviours such as checking, washing, ordering, aligning objects, counting covertly, repeating words covertly etc.