During our lives we all deal with levels of anxiety, these natural low levels of anxiety are there to help us cope with particular situations, gearing us up to deal with workloads, family life and so on its almost like a tap on the shoulder reminding us that something needs to be done or perhaps needs a little bit of our attention.
However when Anxiety reaches high levels of fear, worry or dread which are out of proportion and interfere with our daily functionality this is the time to seek help and make a change in how you deal with things.
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What Is Anxiety?
I very often have people ask me “What is Anxiety?”
I often tell clients and people who ask, that my definition as a therapist of anxiety is an over thinking or over reaction to a situation causing unnecessary feelings of worry. When we fear a future event and start to guess how that event is going to pan out we can quickly increase our levels of anxiety from normal to out of proportion and unmanageable. For example have you ever thought about a party you’re attending in the future and tried to guess how your night will go?
You may start to guess that one person you don’t particularly get on with will be there and how they might behave towards you, maybe they will be rude to you or try to ruin your night, and these thoughts can then spiral out of control causing levels of anxiety about said future event. In severe cases of anxiety this may even cause you to cancel and not attend the party due to the negative self-talk going on inside of you.
How Do I Know If I’ve Got Anxiety?
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, we all have a certain level of anxiety within us. It’s a natural element of being a human being. However there are certain indicators that you could look out for to decide whether you need further help.
Common symptoms of anxiety:
- Persistent worrying/excessive fear
- Difficulty concentrating
- Easily distracted
- Avoidance of a feared situation
- Social isolation
- Being withdrawn
- Excessive shyness
- Inability to relax
- Inability to sleep
What Causes Anxiety
There are many external factors that have an impact on our anxiety levels such as the below:
- Our own negative self-talk
- Trauma from the death of a loved one
- Stress in personal relationships
- Stress at the workplace
- Stress In school
- Stress surrounding finances
- Stress from a natural disaster
Thankfully these are all things that can be dealt with or changed to help overcome the excess feelings of anxiety.
What Can Be Done To Change
Firstly let me say that Anxiety can be dealt with I have seen many people who suffer and they have managed to completely change their lives around.
What you firstly need to think about is stop trying to predict the future! How many times has your worrying over a future event come true?
I have known people to try to play an event out In their head even to the extent of planning how a conversation is going to go, we are not mind readers and most certainly not fortune tellers we need to learn to deal with what presents and not what may present so as you can’t guess the future but perhaps we are wired to try to, why not try to change how you think about it, guess it positively instead rather than on the negative side, this will naturally set you up for success and instil positive feelings rather than negative anxious ones.
A technique I use during therapy sessions is perceptual positions, this technique helps you to see how irrational your thoughts and feelings are and helps you to see the situation in a different light.
There are three perceptual positions that I discuss during therapy and below is a brief breakdown of each:
Position 1 –
Your own position you as yourself, feeling what you’re experiencing at that time. This is a fully associated position you are living it right now.
The position of you watching yourself. I ask clients to imagine taking a step out of their own body at the time of anxiety and watch themselves, look at how they are coping what they’re saying to their self? What would you think if you saw somebody walking down the street acting in this way, saying these things to themselves, do you think your response is OK? Would you allow a friend to say these negative things to you?
The perceptual position of another person maybe somebody you respect, love who you think highly of, “walking in another man’s shoes” what I ask clients to do is imagine being that other person at the time of anxiety, and how they would deal with it, what would they be thinking, saying to themselves. Would they think that your response was irrational?
This technique has helped all of my clients to re-frame how they see particular problems and helps them to create a coping strategy for the next time a case of anxiety arises.
Why not give it a go?
Find a place where you can shut off any distractions and give this technique a go for a few minutes, just notice how different you feel after seeing your response from a different perception and each time you practice it you will find it easier and easier to think more positive.