Coping with Anxiety
There are ways to beat anxiety – one session of hypnotherapy is usually enough – but there are some simple quick fixes you can accomplish yourself.
Women are nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety than men, but although anxiety and stress are two different conditions – stress is experienced as a response to a threat whereas anxiety is a reaction to stress – the symptoms are usually the same.
People who experience frequent anxiety will recognise the symptoms. These include feeling nervous over the slightest thing or struggling to deal with certain situations.
The physical manifestations of anxiety are clammy palms, pounding heart or feelings of dizziness, chest tightening, indigestion, dry mouth, fatigue, sweating and headache. Most of these physical feelings are the same as those of fight and flight.
Anxiety is most often characterised by impatience, poor concentration, a feeling of helplessness, irritability, tension and restlessness, but here are things you can do about it!
So let’s employ a little mindfulness to the problem.
First, try to identify exactly what it is that’s causing the anxiety. Next, form a mental picture of the cause and mentally separate it from everything else that’s happening in your life. This only takes a minute, but it will help if you can find a quiet corner where you can close your eyes and use your imagination.
Focus on all the positive things that are happening and imagine a big red ring around the source of your anxiety. Once you’ve done that, remind yourself that you can deal with the cause of the anxiety later, in other words, you’ll face it again only when it’s appropriate to do so.
Finally, send the source away into the distance – you are literally going to store it out of the way until the time is right. You’ll be surprised how easy this is to do and the more you practice it, the easier it will get.
There are also other very simple things you can do that will help in the long term.
One important step would be to cut out the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that prompts your body to release stress hormones – and that makes you feel even more stressed and on edge than you were before! Caffeine is also addictive – both tea and coffee act like a drug. As the caffeine effect wears off, your brain starts to crave more. No one wants to end up on this kind of roller coaster of highs and lows.
Because caffeine is a drug, it could be a mistake to stop suddenly and go cold turkey because some people experience quite dramatic withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, tiredness or even muscle cramps or depression. It would be better to cut down your caffeine and sugar intake over a few weeks, perhaps slowly substituting other drinks, such as herbal teas or grain coffees.
Another step in the right direction would be to cut out sugar, especially if you want to start controlling the highs and lows, because an essential part of combatting anxiety is to balance your blood sugar levels.
Sugar crashes, which can happen during periods without food – or more to the point, the right food – cause the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to be released into the bloodstream. Again, it might be a good idea to do this over a period of time. There is a price to pay for being able to run away from the lion that’s about to eat you! You can feel more jittery and irritable when blood sugar plummets.
As your blood sugar levels steady, so will your mood swings – reduced adrenaline levels will automatically make you feel happier and calmer inside and feel less stressed and anxious.
Empowering yourself to just say no is actually easier than you think! This is a step that a lot of people find difficult, but it doesn’t have to be! Believe it or not, being assertive is surprisingly empowering. You will be amazed how much better you feel if you look after number 1 first, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that!
Finally, you should try to get a good nights’ sleep and make sure you do this regularly. Sleep, stress and anxiety are all related. Without enough sleep it can be harder to adapt to challenging situations, and when we can’t cope efficiently with stress it can be harder to have a good nights rest. Many of us experience feelings of pressure, tension, and nervousness, especially after a busy and stressful day and these feelings can appear more prominent at bedtime. But this doesn’t have to be a vicious circle – there’s truth in the old adage that things always look better after a good night’s sleep!
Sleep represents a significant contribution to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s important to get your fair share – you are entitled to it you know!