How many of us want to feel restless, tense, unable to stop worrying, having an impending sense of danger?
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand lead to frequent/regular episodes of intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about common, everyday situations. At times, these feelings can escalate so quickly into extreme intensive episodes that can peak within minutes and lead to Panic attacks.
Even though to the rest of the world no apparent danger is present to the person experiencing a panic attack, the danger is present and real; the world is terrifying in that moment.
These feelings of worry, anxiety and panic impede and stop daily activities; they are extremely difficult to control and take most of focus of the person experiencing them. They are disproportionate to the real level of presented danger (the opposite of how they are experienced by the person going through the generalised anxiety disorder) and last for long periods of time.
Most of the time, we are anxious about being anxious-and can spend most of our time creating scenarios in our mind about all the things that might happen.
The initial trigger that made us anxious to begin with becomes a “passenger” on our wild ride through anxiety disorders, and the new worry about being anxious takes its driving seat.
Working our way through managing anxiety is no easy matter. Being told by those around us to stop will often lead to an increase in anxiety and a reservation to talk about how we feel-as we fear we will be dismissed with a simple “You’ll get over it”
Some of the coping skills that we can use to help with our anxiety include:
- Recognising the trigger
What event triggers our anxious feelings? This takes quite a bit of time and practice-use a pen and paper or make notes in your phone every time anxiety rises. Think about the moment just before you felt it-what happened?
Write it down-as often as you can and go through your notes once per week-is there a common factor? Do you notice a pattern?
In time, recognising the trigger will lead to an ability to stop the feelings of anxiety from escalating.
- Deep breathing
This is a simple but extremely effective technique that is great for managing emotions and should provide help with anxiety.
Sit comfortably and place one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in through your nose-enough so that you feel the hand you placed on your abdomen rising.
Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the air for 4 seconds and breathe out slowly, through your mouth (putting your lips together as if you are blowing through a straw) for 6 seconds.
Ideally, try this for 3-5 minutes, though when you start this time will feel like an eternity-so even trying it for one minute will be ok to begin with.
Build it up as you practice.
- Changing your focus
Quick changes in focus can be very helpful. When you notice that you start to feel anxious-do something different: make a drink, open a window, listen to a song, etc. Try and real focus on the activity that you are doing; this will be the building blocks for working with mindfulness when you are ready.
- Accept that this will not change overnight
Allow yourself time and space to process the changes and learn to work in a different way. Change is not easy-but with time, practice and support-you will be able to work with your anxiety. Once you start to notice those early flickers of change, lean into them and build them up slowly.
The anxiety help tips provided above will hopefully provide some comfort. If you need any further support why not book a free initial consultation.