'Worry gives a small thing a big shadow' - Swedish proverb
Anxiety is a fear of what might happen, rather than an actual theat, because something is perceived to be a threat. It can be rational or irrational based on previous experience but can become so powerful that it overwhelms and prevents the sufferer from living a healthy life, maintaining commited personal relationships, working effectively in a job, or functioning well in everyday life. It manifests itself with emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms and if left, unmanaged for weeks or more, can form a habit which has a negative impact on a person's life.
Symptoms of anxiety are similar to that of stress (pressure caused by actual current threats) and include:
- Poor sleep
- Digestive and appetite problems
- Panic attacks
- Inability to retain information, learn and perform at work
- Low self-esteem
- Anger or tearfulness
- Nervousness and fidgeting
- Impatience and irritability
- An inability to relax
The 4 main responses to threats and how they manifest in behaviour
Fight - Attacking, anger, insults, blame and mistreatment of others
Flight - Denial, hiding, avoidance, withdrawal and refusal to engage
Freeze - Compliance, martyrdom, excusing the perpetrator, shutting down and numbing of feelings
Face - Connecting and engaging with the threat, self-preservation without withdrawal, defending without confrontation, resolution
We can learn to change how we respond to a perceived threat using a range of therapies which either focus on reframing a situation to change the perception from a threat to either normality or an opportunity, or techniques to change the emotional and behavioural responses to a theat by controlling the physical responses. For example, breathing techniques will reduce the production of adrenaline and change the hormonal balances in the body, which allow us to control emotions and behaviours more easily. Talking therapies such as counselling can be very effective in managing anxiety.
How does counselling work?
When faced with a threat, the brain looks to previous experience to see how to react. If a previous similar threat cause trauma and reacted in a negative way, the brain defaults to a similar reaction when faced with a similar threat. Therapies such as counselling can reprogramme the brain to respond differently when faced with this similar threat. Our brains have plasticity, which means they can change and adapt as a result of new experiences. As humans, we are designed to learn, grow, adapt, recover, remember and change.
As part of the counselling process, a therapist will encourage an anxiety sufferer to take proactive steps to build their resilience to threats, as well as giving them coping strategies to manage their responses.
A personalised toolbox of measures to help an anxiety sufferer will be established during the counselling process, but may include:
- Increasing social interaction and establishing a support network
- Embracing new experiences to help the brain to grow and maintain its plasticity
- Physical exercise, fresh air and sunlight to ensure a healthy heartrate and hormonal balance
- Mindful practice and reflection of nature
- Helping others, which can flood the system with endorphins and lift the mood
- Eating a healthy diet of foods rich in things which calm or lift mood and avoiding those which cause a flat feeling, including alcohol!
- Relaxation and meditation which help to control breathing
Good quality sleep for 6-8 hours each night, which can help to control emotions and reactions and build resilience
Learning to see the bigger picture, to step back and view situations objectively]
If you are suffering from anxiety or panic attacks regularly or for a prolongued period of time (a few weeks), seek help.
Call CCC's nearest reception or complete the online form to book a session.
Peterborough 01733 553166 Hunts and Cambs 01223 233047