Articles

Anxiety – is my fear rational?

In the past year there are many things that have and are still causing us sleepless nights. This includes but isn’t limited to financial worries, fear of illness, lack of support or feeling isolated and even worrying that your loved ones or even you may become ill with coronavirus.

The worries tend to mount and nothing you say or do can quiet the voice in your head that something terrible might happen or is going to happen.

I know how that’s feels, its like going down the rabbit hole, you follow one train of thought and it continues to run away while you chase it trying to gain some sort of control.

The fear of the unknown, the lack of control we feel doesn’t help matters, that is when we then spiral into the depth of anxiety where we are worried to do the simplest things which now is like a mountain to climb.

We can all suffer from anxiety time to time, majority of the time we can stop the way we may overthink or overcomplicate things within our mind. But the issue occurs when our thoughts start to hinder and affect our day to day life.

There are different types of anxiety that we can suffer from and that can then disrupt our daily lives.

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific Phobia
  • Separation Anxiety Disorder

Finding out what type of anxiety you have may not be enough did you know that there are also different levels of distress and impairment that you can experience?

Mild anxiety – This can impact you emotionally, socially as well as your professional functioning. The symptoms that can be experienced as social anxiety which is mistaken for shyness. 

Moderate anxiety – More frequent symptoms can include feeling on edge, worrying and not being able to control the thoughts, unable to relax sometimes or majority of the time, it’s not something that happens every day.

Severe anxiety – The symptoms of can coincide with major depression and can cause the feeling of being unable to lead a “normal life”. The symptoms are frequent and persistent and can cause increased heart rate, feelings of panic and social withdrawal. People can also turn to alcohol or drugs as a means to cope with their symptoms.

Panic Level Anxiety – Also known as panic disorder, can be frequent, recurring and be unexpected panic attacks. The symptoms can include heart palpitations, rapid breathing, nausea or dizziness, rapid onset of extreme fear and also fear that you may die. They last around 10 mins and can be caused by a certain trigger which vary from person to person and they can be something you recognise or unknown. 

Managing anxiety – Knowing where to turn to can be difficult especially when you are already feeling anxious, scared and confused.

There are ways in which anxiety can be managed depending on the severity. For someone who may suffer from mild to moderate anxiety it may be possible to manage it through exercise, meditation or therapy. For more severe cases a combination of both therapy and medication may be needed.

Most therapist offer free consultations and they can assess and talk to you about what approach they can take to help you within therapy. I have helped clients by exploring their feelings and thoughts that result in them feeling anxious. I also use a combination of mindfulness and CBT techniques can be used to help with symptoms that you may experience and through exploration anxiety can be reduced.

Reach out to a professional who can help, who can understand your situation and provide you with the support which you need.

mindfulness

When was the last time you scanned your Body?

We tend to notice things around, us such as the weather, the traffic, the environment we are in but we forget about the body we occupy. Have you ever noticed how when you are stressed your body feels all tight and wound up? That is because we carry our emotions within our body.

It can be difficult to just relax, sometimes it can even causes physical pain. I’ve had days when I have been so busy to even sit down. When the time does come to relax I find it physically painful.

The body scan or body sweep has helped me numerous times. It may be helpful if you have had a busy day and you need to relax, or even when you are trying to fall asleep but are restless. The benefits are endless of mindfulness but you have to choose what is right for you.

image from stock.adobe.com

I would suggest doing this in an environment where you feel safe to lie down, I prefer to do this before I go to sleep. Where ever you are, find a comfortable place and don’t forget to get a blanket incase you feel cold or drift off to sleep.

While lying down notice the contact your body makes with the floor or bed. Is it hard or soft? are you comfortable?

Closing your eyes, take a few deep breathes in and out letting your body relax slightly each time you exhale. This helps me because if I relax all my body all at once I do feel pain especially in my lower back.

Check in with yourself? how are you feeling? are you agitated, relaxed or even just sleepy? allow yourself to feel however you are. Did you have any expectations about this method? if so let them go as it will feel different each time.

Now scanning the body begins from your toes. Bring your attention to them, what do you feel? hot, cold or tension? Notice it and let it go.

Then shift your attention to your feet. Are you feeling any sensations? Just be aware of them and let it go.

Continue to ask yourself what are you feeling, as you scan up your body slowly, your ankles, lower legs, knees, thighs and continue. You’re noticing any sensation you may have and then letting it go.

I imagine a knot that is tied and when I see myself letting go, the knot unfolds. Each time you exhale imagine tugging on the knot to open it. Up to your lower back, Belly. Your chest, shoulders, upper back. Scanning all till you reach your head.

The idea is that you are seeing how each part of your body feels, not trying to change it, but recognising it and the image of the knot just unfold.

Its normal for our thoughts to drift away if they do just bring it back to your body.

As you finish scanning just notice you’re breathing, as you inhale how your body moves, in and out with each breath. Take a moment and enjoy the silence.

I found it difficult at first to get into the mindset of trying to do this alone. So I enlisted the help of an app called Calm. There are many sleepcasts that guide you through this process and the ones I used were for free.

Once it became part of my routine I then started doing it without the help of the app.

In the book by Kim Davies called Pause, there is a section where you can journal how you felt doing this exercise. The method of journaling can help you gain a more better insight into your experience and reflect on a deeper level.

Mindfulness is a conscious effort to recognise what is going on within you. Life is busy as it is, so don’t put pressure on yourself and its okay to recognise that now might not be the right time for you. But when it is, take a moment and try to reconnect with yourself, your body and your feelings.

Let me know how you got on, did it work? Did you fall asleep or did it not work for you? Leave a comment below.

mindfulness

Mindfulness – How to Shine a light

I have always tried to include an element of mindfulness into my therapy practice. It is a useful tool when working with clients who suffer from anxiety, which can include but not limited to; worrying thoughts, feel overwhelmed and pressured to do things outside of their comfort zone. 

You may have heard about mindfulness but what does it actually mean?

Mindfulness is making the conscious effort to include techniques such as pausing and a form of meditation that helps to build your awareness to yourself, your body and your environment. It involves an attempt to be truly present by stripping away all the noise that covers up your core. 

Kim Davies Pause 50 instant exercises to promote balance and focus every day

Within the book there are 10 ways pausing can help you, but for me what stood out was wanting to achieve a feeling of being calm, less reactive and stressed. 

Your reasons may be different or a combination of the 10 Reasons Kim Davies has highlighted in her book.

01 How to Shine a light

This technique is similar to what is used within counselling to help someone who may be anxious, is feeling panicked, overwhelmed and finding it difficult to be calm.

It knows as the 5,4,3,2,1 method for grounding. It helps you to distract from the thousands of rushing thoughts in your mind.

Taking a deep breath in and out at all times during this method.

I will now go through the method:

5 – What are the five things you can see? You can say them out loud or in your mind. 

I can see a candle burning, my fireplace, TV, Flooring, a Wall Clock.

4 – What are the four things you can hear?

I can hear Two people talking, muffled sounds of possible radio, cars driving by and a Clock ticking.

3 – What are Three things you can feel? You can move or reach for different objects.

The sofa I am sat on has soft upholstery, the pillow I am leaning on has rough pattern on it, my own hands are cold.

2 – Notice two things you can smell. 

This might be harder; I can smell the scent of my candle that is burning. It has a sweet undertone to it but not overpowering and another oil base in the candle and I can smell blueberry. 

1 – Notice one thing you can taste. 

I just ate dinner so I can taste sewai aka seviyaan which is a sweet dish, made of vermicelli, sugar and milk. If you can’t taste anything you can take a sip of cold water and just bring your attention to it. 

image from clipart.com

By engaging my 5 senses I am able to become present in the moment. It helped me by clearing my mind of the inner chatter. It is something that I will attempt to do more often as I found that it just brought my attention to where I am within the room.

If you are struggling with some of the tasks such as smell or touch maybe move about the room don’t limit yourself to one spot. 

How do you feel about including this technique into your daily life? Leave a comment below to let me know how you got on.