The Tyranny of Anxiety

Don’t Believe Everything You Think….

We all have the ability to become anxious from time to time– it’s a natural human response and is part of our survival mechanism. Without the ability to feel anxious we wouldn’t be able to sense potential threats and take the actions to keep us safe. You’ve probably heard of the fight or flight response.  Anxiety also acts as an inbuilt safety mechanism that prevents us from taking unnecessary risks.

As with any of our negative feelings or emotions they are uncomfortable on purpose because they are designed to make you want to take action so that the emotions can reset back to normal settings and you can feel better. If you were in danger and your body sent you a sensation of bliss or contentment, you wouldn’t feel the urgency to change the situation. Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling intended to make you want it to go away, therefore it arouses a spontaneous action, like running away, hiding or fighting. So, anxiety is useful when faced with a real external threat.

Unfortunately it becomes less useful and even disabling when the threat is less real and is happening internally; in other words, when the anxiety is being generated within as a result of the way that a person is using their imaginative attention and their internal dialogue. This is a situation that creates genuine suffering and perceptual distortions that only serve to increase the anxiety. This type of psychological anxiety may well have started as a response to something really happening in the person’s life, like bullying, rejection or abuse. However anxiety can quickly become emotionally habitual through no fault of the sufferer. This is because the emotional brain is always on guard for danger.

Now, you may think that if the person is generating the feelings themselves, they should be able to switch them off. Those of you who have ever experienced ongoing high anxiety will know just how difficult this is. Here’s why – anxiety is part of your survival response so it has to have power over you so that you can instantaneously launch your survival response without having to think about it. Nature wouldn’t risk the possibility of you being able to over-ride this emotional warning bell. Even though your intelligent brain is tell you that there is no danger, the emotion of anxiety is far more convincing and captivating. Anxiety holds its victims in a trance.

Now, if that’s not bad enough, here’s where it can get worse. Anyone who is experiencing ongoing anxiety will be doing all that they can to stop it. Since it is not easy to do that without knowing how, the feelings persist despite all efforts and the person begins to feel helpless. The more they feel helpless, the more they become helpless.

If left untreated, anxiety has a cumulative effect over time as the stress hormones in the body remain constant. This undermines physical health and can lead to more debilitating conditions such as OCD or Panic Attacks. When someone is experiencing anxiety in an intrusive or inappropriate way, it is time to seek help.

The problem with ongoing anxiety or depression is that the person who is suffering can become less likely to seek help. The very thought of speaking to someone will raise anxiety. People with anxiety find that they are living with a constant sense of unease and uncertainty and these feelings result in an inability to live life to the full because they only feel safe when they stay with what they know. The danger is that when anxiety is what they know, they become caught in a trap.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from anxiety there are many ways to get relief without using pharmaceuticals.

Deep breathing. The reason this helps is that the body only breathes in this way when it is safe. Take a deep breath through the nose and release the breath slowly for as long as you can. Each time you breathe out, relax a part of your body (shoulders, arms, tummy etc.) Do this at various intervals during the day, even when you are feeling calm. It will help to maintain lower levels of stress hormones.

Go out, even if you don’t feel like it. It’s better to take 5 minutes just walking round the block than to stay inside. When you are outside, practice turning your attention to the environment. Many anxious people find that even when they do go out they don’t remember much about it. This is because they are stuck inside their minds – just like when they are at home. Make a conscious attempt to notice what is going on around you.

Don’t own the anxiety! “I am anxious” “I have anxiety”. You are not that anxiety, it is passing through your experience. Be prepared to let it go.

Do whatever you can to switch off the voice of anxiety by occupying yourself in whatever way you can. Anxiety is helpless, feels like a victim, thinks it’s not fair, can’t see the point, feels like this ‘is typical of me’, beats up on the victim by telling them bad things about themselves (even though most of them are not true) and takes things very personally.

Don’t neglect nutrition. You don’t have to be a super-chef, just do what you can to eat real fresh food. Just as importantly, avoid the stuff that triggers the adrenal response (making anxiety worse), like sugar and caffeine.

Drink water.

Spend time with people.

Try to avoid too much TV or Facebook. These things are good in small doses but they are trance-inducing, which is the perfect environment for anxiety.

If you’ve been doing these things and nothing seems to be reducing the anxiety, or if you feel that the above list is pointless or too overwhelming, seek professional help.

The good news is that you don’t have to live with anxiety any longer. Hypnotherapy can make a difference to your symptoms straight away, by safely and comfortably reducing the anxious feelings and by teaching you strategies to achieve lasting change.

Imagine how it would be to get your life back; to be calmer or more relaxed. What difference will it make to your life when that anxiety is a thing of the past?

You can call and talk to me about how therapy can help you to overcome anxiety before you make an appointment, I will be happy to tell you more about what to expect – 01273 500136