Anxiety and stress are becoming huge problems within our lives. As life pressures increase,the cost of living rising and expectations from our work life forever growing, it is no surprise that more and more people are having to take time away from work. Anxiety is taking control of more and more people. At school we are taught Maths, English and Biology, but we are not taught how to take control over ourselves and how we respond to life’s challenges. In the following series of articles, I inform you about what anxiety is, why you are responding in this way and how you can take control of your life to live a calmer existence. This article looks at anxiety in general and then the following articles will be looking at the different things that make up anxiety, such as presenting, phobias, panic attacks etc.
What is Anxiety?
Have you ever walked into a room or been thinking about an upcoming event that makes your heart beat faster; you start sweating; your breathing is fast and high up in your chest; your mind goes blank and you have an urge to either run or freeze? Well you have experienced an anxious response. This is natural when something is important or unusual. You gain control over how you feel and carry on to complete the task that had made you nervous. However, it becomes a problem when you cannot control the response and it takes over. This is when anxiety kicks in.
We have all suffered from times of anxiety. Up coming exams; interview for the job you want; meeting your future in-laws for the first time. But these moments pass as the event passes by. Anxiety becomes a problem when those feelings occur regularly for 6 months or more. Or if there are specific triggers that happen regularly. Some common examples are anxiety about presenting to a group of people, making mistakes and fear of spiders.
Why do you react that way? It’s all down the the flight and fright response.
The irony is the anxious response is your body responding perfectly, but responding to the wrong thing. Evolutionary, we have this response to keep us from harm. When we were foraging for nuts and berries we would be relaxed. When relaxed our vision is peripheral, meaning a wide range of sight is possible. Breathing is deep and slow in stomach. Then something would be seen from the edge of our vision. Was it a threat? Adrenaline then kicks in giving tunnel vision. This allowed the hunter to look directly with focus at the possible threat. His breathing got faster allowing more oxygen to fill the body. Blood pumped to arms and legs creating heat. This meant they were ready to either fight or the flee the scene. They would attack the situation releasing the adrenaline and once the threat had gone (either been killed or escaped from) the adrenaline would all been used up and the relaxed feeling would return.
Phobias and Certain Triggers
Experiences and events in our past can leave us responding to a particular situation as though it is an attacking tiger. Our unconscious is always bouncing back to the past to events related to the experience. From attaching to a significant event in the past, it can then jump into the future making up an assumption of the result it will have. This can effect how you respond to any given event. This means that if you have had a bad experience in the past, the unconscious will respond to make you avoid anything similar to it.
An example of this can be when at school doing a presentation, the class started laughing at you. Being cruel and insecure 10 year olds they said some awful things. Feeling like a failure and very embarrassed you sat down. You tell yourself that everything they said was true and that you were terrible at presenting. And your unconscious holds onto that belief. Whenever you attempt to do a presentation you freeze, go bright red and stumble on your words. Every presentation confirms to you that you should not be doing presentations. If ever there was a presentation at school or a work position that meant carrying out presentations a huge fear would rise up. As the years follow you avoid presenting as every time your heart races, you sweat and freeze, forgetting your words. Once you have escaped the situation you feel better. Presenting has become the tiger! Of course there are many scenarios as no two people are the same .
Some common triggers are:-
- health issues
- fear of making mistake
- worrying about what the future will bring
Another cause of anxiety can be a build up of stress over time, resulting in a constant state of the body remaining in the fight and flight response. The problem we have in modern life is the stresses don’t get burned out like it did when the stress was caused by something that was sorted out and dealt with. Stresses now are ongoing; pressures at work; money worries; unhappy relationship. This means that the adrenaline doesn’t leave the body, building up causing the stress to build within. Often, the result of this build up eventually causes anxiety to increase. When the anxiety gets to a certain level you have an underlying feeling of anxiety to life in general, finding functioning in an everyday situation can be very hard. You might find anxiety attacks happen in the supermarket, on the bus or at work. This makes life very stressful and can have negative impacts on work, relationships and progressing in life.
How Can You Help Yourself?
The good news there is lots you can do! Hypnotherapy has been shown to make long lasting positive changes. This is because the initial event(s)that created the beginning of the anxious response can be worked with to reduce its impact. This means that the bouncing back to past events changes recreating the unconscious’ assumption of what will be in the future. You might be amazed at how quickly you can start regaining your confidence in being able to control feelings of anxiety. As you and your therapist work with how you naturally respond to your life, calmness becomes easier and natural.
Then any well trained hypnotherapist will work with you to teach you life skills and techniques to enable you to deal with any future challenges that might occur. Imagining yourself in the future, responding to life in a calm and controlled manner can help you change the anxious patterns that have built over time.
Useful Ways to Control Your Anxiety
Whenever you feel those feelings of anxiety arriving, sit comfortably in a chair. Focusing on your breath, breathe in slowly and deeply for a count of 7. Then exhale for a count of 11. (You might find there is a more suitable count for you. That’s fine. Just ensure the inhalation is shorter than the exhalation.) Continue until you feel relaxed.
Visualise yourself responding in a positive way to the scenario that you normally respond to with anxiety. How would you rather be? Calm? In control? Watch yourself being calm, noticing how you respond with control. Reprogramme your unconscious to respond in a way that helps you remain in control.
If you would like to find out more, or if you would like to make an appointment with anxiety specialist Giselle Monbiot please phone on 07847 386562 or contact me.
Next article looks at phobias.