Posts tagged anxiety
Posts tagged anxiety
It is often possible to manage anxiety by actively replacing irrational thoughts with more balanced and reasonable thoughts like the following:
1. I’m going to be OK. Sometimes my feelings are irrational and false. I’m just going to relax and take things easy. Everything is going to be fine.
2. Anxiety may feel bad but it isn’t dangerous. There’s nothing wrong with me. Everything is going to be OK.
3. Feelings come and feelings go. Right now I feel bad but I know this is only temporary. I’ve done it before so I can do it again.
4. This image in my head isn’t reasonable or rational. I need to change my thinking and focus my attention on something that’s healthier, and generally helps me to feel good about myself. For example _____________.
5. I’ve managed to interrupt and change these thoughts before – so I know I can do it again. The more I practise this, the easier it will become. Anxiety is a habit – and it’s a habit that I can break!
6. So what if I anxious. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not going to kill me. I just need to take a few deep breaths and keep going.
7. Just take the next step. Just do the next thing.
8. Even if I have to put up with a period of anxiety, I’ll be glad that I did, and persevered, and succeeded.
9. I can feel anxious and still do a good job. The more I focus on the task at hand, the more my anxiety will ease, then disappear.
10. Anxiety doesn’t have a hold on me. It’s something I’m working on, and changing over time.
1. Prepare well in advance: Lack of preparation is the most commonly cited reason for exam anxiety. To deal with this, devise a study schedule that gets you working long before your exams start. That allows some time for any setbacks, roadblocks or unexpected obstacles. It also helps to combat the need to cram – which is known to add more stress during exams.
2. Develop good sleeping habits: This is one of the best ways to stay on top of stress. Develop a routine where you get sufficient sleep. This will help your brain to function at its optimum.
3. Keep caffeine and sugar at similar levels during pre-exam and exam times: Our bodies get used to certain chemical levels. If you suddenly decrease this, you may suffer withdrawal. In contrast, if you suddenly increase it, you might find it hard to focus.
4. Practise breathing techniques: These will help you to calm yourself if you start to feel anxious when you’re taking an exam. You’ll be able to apply them as soon as you feel stressed.
5. If possible, don’t study the night before: Or at least, only do the minimum amount, or briefly review the main concepts and themes. Then try to relax and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Expect to do your best: Your thoughts affect your feelings – and how anxious you are. If you keep repeating that you think you’re going to fail, it will undermine your confidence and faith in yourself. Also, it will make it hard to study and remember what you’re doing, as your thinking is consumed by “how bad it’s going to be”. In contrast, it you stay positive and believe in yourself, your mind will be free to focus on your work, and you’re likely to do better as you think you will succeed!
1. Recognise that panic attacks are a mind state and not a physical risk. A panic attack can be a very frightening and uncomfortable experience. However, it doesn’t indicate a real physical risk – even although it feels that way.
2. Try to grasp that you are not alone. Panic attacks are relatively common. They’re an anxiety disorder that many other people share.
3. Understand what panic is. Panic is excess adrenaline running through your body when it is confronted with a possible life-threatening situation. It can also be triggered by something that reminds you of a threatening event in your past. Feelings of panic can be very scary, but the feelings are related to your past – not to a threat in the present. Even although you feel terrified, you are not in any real danger.
4. Go and see a doctor or counsellor. Sometimes people find anti-anxiety medication helps them cope with panic attacks. However, identifying the psychological root – and then getting help in dealing with that – is the most effective treatment approach.
5. Let others close to you know that you suffer from panic attacks. People who have never experienced a panic attack may find it hard to understand what you are going through. However, you can help them with this by sharing your difficult experiences with them. In fact, many people want to help those they love – but they don’t know what to say or do. Thus, if you can be more open with them, then they can reach out and offer you support.
6. Don’t avoid those situations which have led to a panic attack in the past. Avoidance will only ‘reinforce’ the disorder … So the more you avoid the dreaded situation the more panic the avoided situation generates. Should a panic attack occur, don’t attempt to fight the feelings. Instead, allow the feelings to wash over you … and then drain away. Focus on staying in the present moment.
7. Focus on slowing your breathing down. This help to ensure that your brain is receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen. That will help reduce your anxiety levels, and the panic attack will dissipate and end.
1. Other peoples’ expectations of you. At the end of the day, it’s your life not their life - so just be yourself and set,and go for, your own goals.
2. What other people say and do. It’s not up to us to control other people, or to change how they act, or to make their decisions.
3. Expecting perfection. It’s unrealistic to aim for perfection. You’ll just be disappointed and discouraged all the time.
4. Getting it wrong. We all make mistakes in our journey through this life. That’s simply part of learning, and being normal and human.
6. Fitting in. Although social skills matter, and it’s good to think of others, you also need to be yourself - a special, unique individual. Beware - conformity can kill individuality.
7. Being right. This is highly over-rated and can cause a lot of stress. If you’re confident and real you don’t need to prove you’re right!
8. Life being out of control. At the end of the day, there’s not much we can control – except our own reactions and our attitudes to problems. So change what you can – and then relax and enjoy life.
1. Check your nutrition. Sometimes high levels of anxiety are caused by a magnesium or potassium deficiency.
2. Pay attention to your caffeine levels. Coffee, tea and chocolate all contain reasonable levels of caffeine. This can make you jittery, or increase your feelings of anxiety.
3. Try meditation and mindfulness. These help to keep you focused on the here and now, to slow your heartbeat and breathing down, as well as helping to relax your mind.
4. Work on maintain a healthy self-esteem. Many people who feel anxious, stressed or depressed are actually suffering from low self-esteem.
5. Find a trusted sounding board, and vent your feelings to them – but make sure it’s someone who understands and cares.
6. Exercise – This releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones, which help reduce our feelings of anxiety.
7. Distract yourself. Take your mind off your worries by doing other things that require concentration, and a focused state of mind.
8. Treat yourself. Give yourself a mood lifter by hanging out with friends, buying something that you love, or doing something that is fun.
1. Confront your fears: There’s often a fear of the unknown, and trying to define that fear can help you to overcome it. By facing whatever it is, you may find you know what to do about the situation. You can begin to think about how you might cope with it, what you can do, and who might help you, if necessary.
2. Talk it over: Discussing things with others can help to throw up a possible course of action or solution, which you wouldn’t have been able to formulate on your own.
3. Write a list: Try writing a list of what’s troubling you. Use statements, rather than questions. Instead of, ‘What will happen if I don’t get there on time?’ say, ‘I am worried that I won’t get there on time’. This focuses on precisely what the fear is. Another constructive way to put your fears into perspective is to try writing down the reasons why something bad might not happen. This may help you to see more realistically which situations are worthy of worry and which are not.
4. Take action: There is often something you can do about a situation you feel anxious about. Consider each preoccupying thought, one by one, and then decide whether there is something that could be done
5. Try to establish control: Confine your problems to a certain time and place. For this to work, it’s important to be strict, and not to let them intrude on your thoughts at other times. It might be helpful to visualise a box to place them in, which you may open at a later date or time. Some people set aside something like 30 minutes a day for worrying, taking the phrase ‘I’ll worry about it later’ literally.
6. Relaxation and visualisation: Relaxation exercises often focus on replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. This could involve imagining yourself in a pleasant setting, such as a beach, a nice room or a garden. You could visualise your worries as physical objects that can be discarded, such as stones or rocks you could heave into the distance.
7. Physical activity: Exercise is excellent because it can change the focus from your mind to your body. It relieves tension and uses up adrenalin.
8. Medication: If extreme worrying turns into a state of continuous anxiety, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or minor tranquillisers. These should only be used for the briefest possible time, because they may have side effects and can be addictive. They can do nothing to change the root cause of your problem, but they can tide you over the worst of a crisis until a different form of help, such as counselling or psychotherapy, can be put in place.
1. Force yourself to go out at least once or twice a week. To help you cope with your anxiety, ask a friend to do something with you, or go to an event where you know a few people. The idea is to gradually stretch yourself so that, eventually, you’ll be able to go to new things, and not feel terrified of meeting people you’ve never met before.
2. Pay attention to your appearance. When we feel good (or at least comfortable) with the way we look, we feel less anxious and more confident.
3. Find out what other people are talking about (such as baseball, hockey, popular films and TV shows) and read up on them. For example, you could google for the latest scores, headlines news and gossip on the stars.
4. When you are at social events watch to see how other people behave. You can learn a lot from closely observing, listening to, and then copying others.
5. Think about working with a counselor to address the underlying fears that are behind your social anxiety.
1. Instead of burying and avoiding your fears, find the courage to face and examine them. Often fears are rooted in uncertainty and insecurity. If we admit this, we can master them.
2. Try and figure out what is behind the fear. Is it a bad experience from the past – something that happened to you or to someone else? Is it related to something someone has said, or threatened?
3. Try and be rational about the situation. Usually things work out better than we expect – and our fears are often blown out of proportion. Do you need help in acquiring skills (such as social skills)? If so, how can you get the help you need? What steps can you take to help to lessen your fear?
4. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” … Then ask yourself, “How likely is it that that will happen?” In all likelihood the chances are small. Also, ask yourself, “What would I do if the worst possible thing happened? Would I be able to survive it?” The chances are it would be bad – but not the end of the world.
5. Move your focus from the past to the present and the future. Instead of getting bogged down in failures and regrets, see the present as an opportunity to take a small step to build a better, brighter future.
1. Try and determine where the drive for perfectionism came from. Was it from demanding teachers? Or parents who it was impossible to please? Then remind yourself that there is no law anywhere that says you must be perfect. Because you’re human you’re bound to make mistakes – and that’s OK.
2. Examine the logic behind your belief – then remind yourself of “reality”. Often we have higher standards for ourselves than we have for other people. Remind yourself that learning is a process and no-one, NO-ONE is perfect on this earth.
3. Look at what the benefits and costs are from having such a high, and unreachable, standard. On balance, is it good for you or bad for you? What do you gain and what do you lose?
4. Make a list of your perfectionist thoughts and then challenge them on paper. For example, “I should have done better on that test” could be replaced by “I would like to have done better – but that’s just life” – and usually your intense emotions will subside.
5. Remind yourself that it’s your best that matters – and life is a journey, and not a race.
According to Dr T.A. Richards, we can stop thoughts that lead to anxiety by consciously replacing them by more rational thoughts like the following:
When Anxiety is Near:
1. I’m going to be all right. My feelings are not always rational. I’m just going to relax, calm down, and everything will be all right.
2. Anxiety is not dangerous — it’s just uncomfortable. I am fine; I’ll just continue with what I’m doing or find something more active to do.
3. Right now I have some feelings I don’t like. They are really just phantoms, however, because they are disappearing. I will be fine.
4. Right now I have feelings I don’t like. They will be over with soon and I’ll be fine. For now, I am going to focus on doing something else around me.
5. That picture (image) in my head is not a healthy or rational picture. Instead, I’m going to focus on something healthy like _________________________.
6. I’ve stopped my negative thoughts before and I’m going to do it again now. I am becoming better and better at deflecting these automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and that makes me happy.
7. So I feel a little anxiety now, SO WHAT? It’s not like it’s the first time. I am going to take some nice deep breaths and keep on going. This will help me continue to get better.”
When Preparing for a Stressful Situation
1. I’ve done this before so I know I can do it again.
2. When this is over, I’ll be glad that I did it.
3. The feeling I have about this trip doesn’t make much sense. This anxiety is like a mirage in the desert. I’ll just continue to “walk” forward until I pass right through it.
4. This may seem hard now, but it will become easier and easier over time.
5. I think I have more control over these thoughts and feelings than I once imagined. I am very gently going to turn away from my old feelings and move in a new, betterdirection.
When feeling overwhelmed
1. I can be anxious and still focus on the task at hand. As I focus on the task, my anxiety will go down.
2. Anxiety is a old habit pattern that my body responds to. I am going to calmly and nicely change this old habit. I feel a little bit of peace, despite my anxiety, and this peace is going to grow and grow. As my peace and security grow, then anxiety and panic will have to shrink.
3. At first, my anxiety was powerful and scary, but as time goes by it doesn’t have the hold on me that I once thought it had. I am moving forward gently and nicely all the time.
4. I don’t need to fight my feelings. I realize that these feelings won’t be allowed to stay around very much longer. I just accept my new feelings of peace, contentment, security, and confidence.
5. All these things that are happening to me seem overwhelming. But I’ve caught myself this time and I refuse to focus on these things. Instead, I’m going to talk slowly to myself, focus away from my problem, and continue with what I have to do. In this way, my anxiety will have to shrink away and disappear.
Adjustment disorder is a short-term condition that occurs when a person is unable to cope with, or adjust to, a particular source of stress, such as a major life change, loss, or event. Because people with adjustment disorders often have symptoms of depression, such as tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness, and loss of interest in work or activities, adjustment disorder is sometimes called “situational depression.” Unlike major depression, however, an adjustment disorder is triggered by an outside stress and generally goes away once the person has adapted to the situation. The type of stress that can trigger adjustment disorder varies depending on the person, but can include:
· Ending of a relationship or marriage.
· Losing or changing job.
· Death of a loved one
· Developing a serious illness (yourself or a loved one).
· Being a victim of a crime.
· Having an accident.
· Undergoing a major life change (such as getting married, having a baby, or retiring from a job).
· Living through a disaster, such as a fire, flood, or hurricane.
A person with adjustment disorder develops emotional and/or behavioral symptoms as a reaction to a stressful event. These symptoms generally begin within three months of the event and rarely last for longer than six months after the event or situation. In an adjustment disorder, the reaction to the stressor is greater than what is typical or expected for the situation or event. In addition, the symptoms may cause problems with a person’s ability to function; for example, the person may be unable to sleep, work, or study.
Symptoms may include:
· Feeling of hopelessness.
· Frequent crying.
· Anxiety (nervousness).
· Headaches or stomachaches.
· Palpitations (an unpleasant sensation of irregular or forceful beating of the heart).
· Withdrawal or isolation from people and social activities.
· Absence from work or school.
· Dangerous or destructive behavior, such as fighting, reckless driving, and vandalism.
· Changes in appetite, either loss of appetite, or overeating.
· Problems sleeping.
· Feeling tired or without energy.
· Increase in the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is the most common treatment for adjustment disorder. Therapy helps the person understand how the stressor has affected his or her life. It also helps the person develop better coping skills. Support groups can also be helpful by allowing the person to discuss his or her concerns and feelings with people who are coping with the same stress. In some cases, medication may be used to help control anxiety symptoms or sleeping problems.
Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. Anxiety attacks usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger— getting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to give—but in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.
Anxiety attacks usually peak within ten minutes, and they rarely last more than thirty minutes. But during that short time, the terror can be so severe that you feel as if you’re about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are themselves so frightening that many people believe they’re having a heart attack.
Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:
· Surge of overwhelming panic
· Feeling of losing control or going crazy
· Heart palpitations or chest pain
· Feeling like you’re going to pass out
· Trouble breathing or choking sensation
· Hot flashes or chills
· Trembling or shaking
· Nausea or stomach cramps
· Feeling detached or unreal
Self-help for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders #1: Challenge negative thoughts
· Write down your worries. Keep a pad and pencil on you, or type on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. When you experience anxiety, write down your worries. Writing down is harder work than simply thinking them, so your negative thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.
· Create an anxiety worry period. Choose one or two 10 minute “worry periods” each day, time you can devote to anxiety. During your worry period, focus only on negative, anxious thoughts without trying to correct them. The rest of the day, however, is to be designated free of anxiety. When anxious thoughts come into your head during the day, write them down and “postpone” them to your worry period.
· Accept uncertainty. Unfortunately, worrying about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable—it only keeps you from enjoying the good things happening in the present. Learn to accept uncertainty and not require immediate solutions to life’s problems.
Self-help for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders #2: Take care of yourself
· Practice relaxation techniques. When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
· Adopt healthy eating habits. Start the day right with breakfast, and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel more anxious.
· Reduce alcohol and nicotine. They lead to more anxiety, not less.
· Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
· Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.