Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.
Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t go away – when they’re ongoing and happen without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard to cope with daily life. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings aren’t easily controlled. The symptoms of anxiety conditions are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop slowly over time and, given we all experience some anxiety at various points in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is too much.
Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview. The type of anxiety experienced by people with an anxiety condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning. While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:
Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life.
Suffering from Complex PTSD, PTSD or other Trauma related disorder you most likely suffer from an anxiety related condition and chances are it is very debilitating and in many cases crippling preventing you from leading a normal life.
I suffer from Panic Attacks as a result of my anxiety. They often don’t even need a trigger. They just come out of the blue and hit me over the head like a sledge hammer with all the symptoms listed above. Determined not to keep letting anxiety rule my life I set about tackling the issue with my Psychotherapist.
The first and obvious tactic is to tackle the trauma causing the anxiety and this we were doing using a therapy called EMDR and were making progress. My suicidality was reducing and my self-harm episodes were reducing. My Dissociative Identity Disorder was under control and my Alters were co-operating most of the time. A break through after years of battling my mother alter causing havoc.
So we came up with a definite plan to tackle my anxiety. Here it is:
Identify the source of your anxiety. Whether you have a panic attack or a sudden bout of worry and fear, it is important to determine what is causing your anxiety. Is something in your environment the primary source? Is a possible mishap the origin? Is an impending activity, meeting, or event the cause? You can handle a fear much easier when you are clear about what it is.
Determine if your worry is solvable. If you know what your fear is, the next step is to determine if it is something you can deal with, or something that only time (or your imagination) can manage. If your fear is largely imagination or can’t be dealt with now, then make the conscious effort to put it out of your mind. If your worry is something that needs to be dealt with, then take steps to create a course of action.
What can you do to lessen this fear or worry?
Is this a long term or a short term fix?
What can I do to prevent this worry or fear from recurring?
Consider the worst. If your fear is mind-consuming, take a moment to think about the honest and absolute worse thing that could happen as a result of it. Perhaps you’re getting ready to do a huge presentation, and you begin to panic. Stop and think “what is the worst that could happen?” No matter how creative your response may be, thinking critically will lead to finding that should it occur, there are few endings that can’t be dealt with in a reasonable manner.
Accept uncertainty. It can be tough to stop worrying when you’re never quite sure how a scenario will play out. At this point, it is important to simply accept the ever-present fact of uncertainty. We can’t know how something will go, or what the ending may be; worrying about the unknown is an unnecessary source of fear that can be avoided with the simple acceptance of chance.
Consider the use of your worry. You are worried for a reason – anxiety is a fear response to a real or imagined scenario. Problems arise when we begin worrying about things that don’t actually cause us danger. So, think about the purpose of your worry. Is it helpful? If you’re afraid of a legitimately dangerous situation, then your worry is being put to good use. If however, you are anxious without a purpose, then your worry has the best of you. Remembering that can help to bring you down off of an anxiety high
.Focus on both the positive and the negative When you are anxious about something, it can be incredibly easy to see only the negative aspects of it. As with all things though, there must be a positive facet to your fear-filled situation as well. Don’t focus on a single negative event while completely ignoring other related positives ones at the same time.
Avoid thinking in terms of “all or nothing.” No matter what situation is about to go down, it’s unlikely that the outcome is completely black or white. Don’t allow yourself to ignore gray areas and over dramatise something. For example, assuming that if you don’t get accepted to a particular college, you’re a total failure and nobody will want you. This type of thinking is common with anxiety but is also totally irrational.
Don’t make it into a catastrophe. If your fear is of something non-dangerous and possibly even imagined, one of the surefire ways to make it worse is to turn it into a catastrophe. If you’re anxious about flying on a plane, and at the first sign of turbulence turn it into a crash, you are making your anxiety worse. See every situation as it really is, rather than what it could be
Try not to jump to conclusions. If you lack facts and have yet to experience your worry or fear, then jumping to conclusions about what might happen will do you no good. If an uncertainty lays before you, you can reduce your anxiety by realizing (and admitting) that you don’t know what may happen. Consider all possible outcomes, rather than jumping to the most morbid or unlikely.
Don’t let your emotions control your reasoning. When you’re scared and anxious, it is easy to let emotions get in the way of logic. Your emotions will do just that though, and they will fool you into thinking you are in more danger than you really are. Don’t let your fear convince you are in danger, unless you really are. The same goes with all negative anxiety-based emotions, including stress, guilt, and embarrassment.
Avoid making everything personal. When anxiety strikes, don’t allow it to force you to take blame for a situation outside of your control. If you’re anxious and scared because your house was broken into, it may be easy to take it personally and blame yourself for the break-in. This type of thinking is illogical though, and will make you feel worse. Unless you invited thieves knowingly into your home, you can’t be held accountable for the robbing they did. If you were abused as a child the adult was responsible. You were just a child. They groomed you. You WERE NOT to blame. Repeat.
We stuck to this plan for six months religiously and it WORKED. It massively reduced my panic attacks. I made palm cards and summarised the key points and kept them with me for review and was thrilled when I started to get results. You can get on top of ANXIETY. It can be BEATEN. It doesn’t have to CONTROL you. GET STARTED TODAY.