Anxiety is an individual mental health experience that makes the sufferer feel alone, but not unique as we all go through some form of anxiety at some time, but for some, this could be a major challenge. It could be a minor issue that causes some discomfort, or it might be a major mental health problem that causes great distress and anxiety. Anxiety disorder is usually concern about the future because the present does not look as promising or is full of doom and gloom.
It’s also self-sustaining. The symptoms of anxiety cause physical and emotional problems that lead to more anxiety disorder, which creates a snowball effect that can get out of control unless help is sought or new solutions found.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety can manifest as panic attacks or disorders, which cause bouts of palpitations, sweating, chest pain, and irregular heartbeats. It can emerge as phobias— with intense fears of certain objects or situations—or it can look like social anxiety disorder, which makes being around other people and places nearly unbearable, especially if encountering for the first time. The symptoms of anxiety are too many to list but may involve muscle tension, panic attacks, stomach upsets, constant and unnecessary worry and fretfulness, and insomnia to name but a few. If we allow these panic disorders or symptoms to persist then we can be vulnerable to a wide range of diseases, which translates to not being at ease.
Seven steps to help
- Learn to live in the present moment – The present is all that is in one’s control at each moment – This means accepting that one cannot control circumstances but one can control responses to situations and to focus on proactive strategies that one can put in place to help adapt throughout any period of uncomfortable change. This requires patience and understanding, and it is not about expecting to get better in a certain amount of time. It is most helpful to have a listening ear with someone who is not judgemental. Someone available as much as possible, even just over the phone—simply knowing that they can get in touch with another human being can be a big comfort for someone who is attempting to control their anxiety.
- Validation – simply affirming the truth of experience. It is helpful for one to know that others believe what they are going through and not playing it down or trying to look for distractions. This means allowing for feelings of sadness, anxiety, and frustration to express themselves. We all respond differently to situations and there is no right or wrong way to deal with things. Being compassionate and understanding that one is doing one’s best under the circumstances and being more mindful about things does help to overcome anxiety. Positive reinforcement instead of criticism will associate good feelings with better actions to remain positive.
- Being vigilant, but not excessively compulsive with news/information from media. It is easy to get caught up in the streams of information we are bombarded with daily as we try to learn more about what is going on around us. However, learning to distance oneself and keeping things in perspective, instead of over-indulging would help, otherwise, things could get out of control and cause more anxiety.
- Self-care – Although circumstances may not be ideal, we must learn to seize the opportunity to slow down and take a break from the fast-paced chaos that is often modern-day life. Social media may drive one insane about what one can do and encourage competitiveness. However, if one is not up to it, disappointments could follow. There is no need to put pressure like this on ourselves – Instead, it is better to do the things one enjoys, such as reading, learning a new skill/language or cooking something different, or even taking a walk through nature or cycling. It is very important that you continue to look after your physical and emotional wellbeing. This would mean looking after one’s body and mind and getting rid of tension in the system, whilst making active choices on one’s way of living.
- Letting go of thoughts – Writing is helpful – This could mean making a list of things one is grateful for and journaling any concerns helps one recognize that thoughts are just part of one’s mind and do not define oneself. One would also be able to identify negative thoughts and worries which could be seen as challenges that need to be faced, rather than threats to the living. These would include letting go of unresolved memories which would reoccur in more thoughts around the issue and discovering ways of thinking that promote calmness, which could mean listening to inspirational music or playing a musical instrument or any other involvement with creative arts, such as painting, sculpting or even pottery.
- Making Connections – There can be so much frustration and upset that comes with being unable to spend time with friends and loved ones. But where there are health and safety issues, these are small sacrifices we have to make right now to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being are paramount. Reminding oneself that by adhering to government guidelines, one is demonstrating great compassion and respect for the well-being of others. We’re all in this together as we belong to one great human family. Social distancing is not about social disconnection. With technology, one can be in contact even more than ever and almost instantly with one touch of a button. Getting in touch with others also helps retain perspective and keeps one connected.
- Maintaining a daily routine – This gives a sense of normality in a situation where there is uncertainty and unprecedented events are taking place. Setting an alarm, getting up/ showered/ dressed, and going about one’s day in a normal way keeps one focused on living in the moment. If one is working from home, it is necessary to schedule regular breaks and eating meals regularly with some snacks (and not being so hard on oneself). What’s important is that one identifies and tries to follow through on those things that give one a sense of purpose and lets one experience deep relaxation, physically and mentally by having a more balanced life, with less chance for anxiety and more scope for well-being.
Anxiety Counselling & Therapy
Get in touch with Online Therapy 247 to speak to a life coach, counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist specialising in anxiety who can provide support and advice.