How to deal with anxiety

Anxiety is the body's way of telling us we have pushed ourselves too far to fast.  Our capacity to cope in life depends on how we deal with life's challenges, therefore it is often helpful to look at our coping strategies to see if they are up to the task.  Sometimes difficulties in our formative years means some of these have not developed properly or even that life in the present has had an overwhelming amount of challenges that have come at us too many and too quickly to be easily overcome.

Understanding where the problem lies and then developing new and relevant strategies to cope greatly reduces anxiety as anxiety is often triggered when we feel out of control.

With some, anxiety floods them due to trauma or traumas experienced in the past.  In such cases the undigested trauma leaves us unable to read our environment effectively.  Everything can be a possible danger.  This can happen with people who suffer Post Traumatic Syndrome.  The work here is to first create as much stabilisation in the present as we can before going in and facing the Trauma.  We do this because Traumatic memories are un-networked memories in the brain, they are misfiled or lost memories.  However they have the nasty habit of being unconsciously triggered in the present when situations similar to the traumatic memory are re-enacted.  We are suddenly flooded with anxiety and fear in the present without understanding where it has come from.  This is very disempowering.  Facing the Traumatic memories in the past integrates them into the rest of your memory network and helps you to reframe what has happen and the emotional impact of it.

Here are some helpful ways we can stabilise ourselves:

1. Grounding Techniques

Fear is triggered by events in the past or not coping in the future, this technique helps us to stay in the present.  You can:

Start noticing and listing everything around you.

Press your hand with your other hand and give yourself an affirmation such as:  "I can manage this".

Sit in your chair notice where your body is in the chair - remind yourself everything is okay

2. A Safe Place

This is a visualisation exercise where you remember a place that was safe for you or you create an imaginary one.  If you choose a place you remember a holiday or a bedroom make sure it feels completely safe.  If you cannot remember any safe place it is better to create one.  Some people find visualising themselves on an island where they are the ones that control entrance and exit from it helpful.  This technique needs practice.  You find a quiet place and relax your body and mind and create in your imagination your safe place.  Relate the place to feelings of comfort, safety and control.  Each time you go there increase this association between your visualisation and how it makes you feel.  Use this to switch off.

3) AWARE Technique

Accept Anxiety - go with experience rather than fight it.

Watch your Anxiety - observe it in a detached way noticing when it goes up or down.

Act with your Anxiety - keep behaving normally go on doing what you were doing if you run from your anxiety it will get worse.

Repeat the steps- Keep accepting your anxiety until it goes down.

Expect the best - What you fear most may never happen.


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