Posts tagged anxiety
Posts tagged anxiety
1. Realize that you’re not the only one. The reality is that most of us worry about the same kinds of things – such as whether others like us, are bored by others, or the kind of impression we’re making.
2. Try to uncover the roots of your anxiety. There may be a variety of reasons for feeling self-conscious, such as having had a bad experience in the past, feeling that you’re with people who are very different from you, or feeling you’re with people who don’t understand you. Also, it may simply be that you’re more introverted so social situations are more stressful for you.
3. Acknowledge the feelings as soon as they arise. That will enable you to start targeting them through positive self talk. For example, remind yourself that: “I always feel like this in these kinds of situations. I’m going to be okay. I usually cope – and I will this time, too.”
4. Fake looking and acting calm, relaxed, and self confident. In time, you’ll find your feelings will change to match the way you appear on the outside.
5. Also, acting warm and friendly helps put others at ease, and encourages them to feel more relaxed around you.
6. Try not to worry about what other people think. In reality, other people will often feel as nervous as you do. It’s just that they’ve learned how to cover it up. Also, some people think negatively about everyone. You’re never going to change this kind of person – and you don’t need their approval anyway!
7. Be kind to yourself. Praise, affirm and reward yourself for deciding to do something that’s difficult for you.
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority.
Put another way, social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem.
A specific social anxiety would be the fear of speaking in front of groups, whereas generalized social phobia indicates that the person is anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable in almost all social situations.
People with social anxiety disorder usually experience significant emotional distress in the following types of situations:
· Being introduced to other people
· Being teased or criticized
· Being the center of attention
· Being watched while doing something
· Meeting people in authority (“important people”)
· Most social encounters, especially with strangers
· Going around the room (or table) in a circle and having to say something
The physiological manifestations that accompany social anxiety may include intense fear, racing heart, turning red or blushing, excessive sweating, dry throat and mouth, trembling, swallowing with difficulty, and muscle twitches.
Constant, intense anxiety that does not go away is the most common feature.
People with social anxiety disorder know that their anxiety is irrational and does not make “head” sense. Nevertheless, “knowing” something is never the same thing as “believing” and “feeling” something. Thus, in people with social anxiety, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and show no signs of going away despite the fact that socially-anxious people “face their fears” every day of their lives.
Source: http://www.social-anxiety-network.com/define.html (abridged)
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, it is sometimes called “situational depression.” 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
Adjustment disorder can have a wide variety of symptoms, which may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Frequent crying
- Stomach aches
- Heart palpitations
- 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
Adjustment disorder can occur in anyone, and at any age.
In terms of treatment, counseling or psychotherapy are the most common approaches. 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.
Most people with adjustment disorder recover completely. In fact, a person who is treated for adjustment disorder may learn new skills that actually allow him or her to function better than before the symptoms began.
We all have an automatic stream of thought – an unconscious commentary of what is going on, and how we are performing compared to other people. This commentary’s often harsh and negative. For example, we criticise ourselves for not being good enough, or saying something stupid, or doing something dumb. This increases our stress levels, and lowers self esteem. Thus, we need to try and notice and interrupt these ANTS – so we break the harmful patterns that are ruining our lives. Below are some steps that can help you with this:
1. First, try to get into the habit of noticing all the different thoughts that are passing through your mind. Some of these will be neutral or positive but many will be negative and damaging. These are the thoughts that you’re going to address.
2. Next, objectively look at how you are assessing yourself, and the situation. Try and identify your internal commentary or monologue. Notice the personal attacks, negative judgments and harsh criticisms.
3. Some specific questions you could ask yourself here include: What does this stressful situation mean to me? What does it say about me as a person? What does it say about my self-esteem? What is the message it is sending about my future? What negative images or tapes are playing in my head? What am I assuming, in terms of consequences?
4. Instead of ruminating on these negative thoughts, decide to interrupt the flow by saying “STOP” out loud, or by visualising a red stop sign. Use that as a trigger to put a stop to the self criticisms.
5. At this point, you need to make a conscious effort to find something distracting to do to keep your mind off your negative thoughts. This should be something you find interesting, or something that engages your full attention. Work on finding something that’s effective for you. The crucial thing is: you need to deliberately get your mind off the patterned negative thinking track.
6. Try and come up with as many distractions as you can, so you’ve different options for resisting these ANTS. Some possibilities include: listening to music, humming along to music (or music in your head), exercising (going for a jog, cycle ride or swim), reading, surfing the internet, phoning a positive and upbeat friend, watching a funny video, playing with a pet, and so on.
Although it’s normal to feel some anxiety when you’re preparing for, or taking, a test - too much can hamper you from doing well. Below are some tips to help you to cope with this:
1. Learn and apply proven studying techniques so you feel you really know the test material. This should help to improve your confidence and reduce excessive anxiety.
2. Work on staying positive while you’re studying. Think about doing really well, not always struggling, or even failing.
3. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before a test.
4. Don’t forget to eat right before a test either. You need protein to have enough energy to concentrate fully for the length of the test. Avoid junk food as that tends to lead to a high and then a low.
5. Try to calm and relax yourself as you enter the test room. Take a few slow, deep breaths. In your head repeat positive self-statements like “I am well prepared. I’m going to do a good job on this test.”
6. Don’t start to panic if the questions seem too hard. Just skip over the ones you can’t do, and keep reading until you find something you CAN do.
7. Ignore the fact that other students seem to be finishing before you. Take all the time you need and focus on doing your best.
8. Once the test is over, try and forget about it. There’s nothing you can do until your mark is returned to you … and maybe you’ve aced it, or done really well!
1. Remind yourself that worrying doesn’t stop things happening. Things will happen – or not happen –anyway.
2. Recognise that “What ifs” don’t usually help with problem solving. It’s better to use logic, and brain storm for solutions. Take control of your emotions by using rational thinking.
3. Motivate yourself by something other than worrying. Take a break and do something fun, and then go back to your work again. That positive approach will reap more benefits.
4. Face your fears – and do the things that you worry about. The thought is often much worse than the actual thing you fear.
5. Ask yourself “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Then, “What are the chances that it will happen? Then “Will you survive it, if it happens, in the end?” Usually, that helps to move us from an extreme and irrational way of thinking to a more realistic, and reasonable way if thinking.
6. Teach yourself a range of relaxation strategies – and then concentrate on them instead of on your different fears. Or, adopt a mindful approach – and keep your focus on “right now”.
This is very similar to generalized social phobia. Those with the disorder think of themselves as being inadequate, unlikeable and socially inept. They fear being rejected, criticised or ridiculed and would rather avoid most social situations. The reasons can differ may be related to emotional neglect and peer group rejection in childhood and/ or adolescence. Symptoms may include the following:
- Hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism
- Self-imposed social isolation
- Extreme shyness or anxiety in social situations. (However, the person still has a strong desire for close and meaningful relationships)
- May avoid physical contact with others (because it is associated with emotional or physical pain)
- Painful feelings of inadequacy
- Poor self-esteem
- Intense feelings of self consciousness
- Self hatred or self-loathing
- Mistrust of others
- Emotional distancing/ fear of intimacy
- Highly critical of their ability to relate naturally and appropriately to others
- Do not feel they can connect with others (although others may view them as easy to relate to)
- Intense feelings of inferiority.
- In more extreme cases, may suffer from agoraphobia.
Treatment approaches include social skills training, cognitive therapy, gradually increasing exposure to social situations, group therapy and, occasionally, drug therapy. Gaining and keeping the client’s trust is essential for progress to be made.
1. Recogize that panic attacks are transitory, and will pass eventually. Although they feel terrifying at the time, they are not dangerous. Also, they are not a sign that you are going crazy, or are about to die.
2. Try and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in suffering from this. There are many, many people who are also struggling with panic disorder.
3. Educate yourself onwhat panic attacks are. Essentially, the intense feelings of panic are caused by an excess of adrenaline in what feels like a traumatic or life-threatening situation. That is, it is a physiological response, triggered by an event that reminds you of something threatening from your past. Thus, your feelings are telling your body to escape from it views as a potentially dangerous situation.
4. People who don’t have panic attacks may not understand what is going on. However, people who genuinely care about you will want to understand what you’re going through – and you may be surprised at how supportive they can be.
5. Understand that avoiding situations which create anxiety will only reinforce your panicky feelings. That is, the more you avoid them, the worse they will get. Instead, when you first start to panic, don’t try to fight the feelings. Allow them to build - and then you’ll find they will subside. At the same time, try and focus on the way that you are breathing – and try and breathe as slowly, and deeply, as you can.
6. Make sure you get plenty of quality sleep, exercise regularly, and build margin in your life. (That will help to prevent you from getting over-stressed.)
There are some easy tools that anyone can use to cope with their feelings of anxiety. They include:
1. Learning more about anxiety: This will help you to understand what is happen when you start to feel increasingly anxious. First, remember that we all feel anxious at times. It can help us to prepare for and cope with hard tasks – such as sitting an exam or teaching a class. However, it leads to problems when the danger isn’t real yet our body is signalling a high state of alert.
2. Learning strategies that help us relax: The two most common strategies for relaxing and unwinding are calming down our breathing and muscle relaxation. The former involves taking slow, gentle breaths (breathing in through the nose, pausing for a few seconds, then breathing out slowly through the mouth, again). The latter involves learning how to tense and relax the different muscles - and then repeating this until our stress levels fall.
3. Actively challenging our anxious thoughts: When we’re anxious and tense we often see the world as a threatening and hostile place. This usually reflects faulty, negative thinking where we jump to conclusions or expect the worse to happen. This is out of proportion, exaggerated thinking which is unrealistic – and makes us feel uptight. A strategy for helping is replacing faulty thinking with a more realistic and accurate approach. This necessitates us challenging our automatic thinking so we see things in a clearer, less distressing way. Of course, it takes practise and effort to shift our change anxious thinking – but it’s worth the effort in the end
4. Facing our fears: One of the best ways of dealing with our fears is exposing ourselves to what makes us feel afraid. For example, if you avoid being with people as this leaves you feeling anxious then the best way forward is to simply face your fear. You could make a list that goes from “least to most scary” - and then reward yourself each time you move a level up the list.
The person who suffers from OCD, is continually plagued by anxieties. And though their fears are often rooted in reality they are usually extreme and irrational. They also interfere with the person’s daily life, are highly disruptive and strain relationships.
OCD has five categories of obsession. These are:
· Washers (people who are terrified of contamination)
· Checkers (people who are afraid that something terrible could happen – because they forgot to take some action)
· Doubters and sinners (people who are afraid of being less than perfect – and are “waiting” to be caught and punished for their errors)
· Counters and arrangers (people who have an obsession with order and symmetry. They are often very superstitious, too)
· Hoarders (people who can’t throw anything away). Thus, they compulsively store items that they’ll never use. Examples of the kinds of things they hoard include old newspapers, receipts or medicine bottles.
Other common thought obsessions include sexually explicit or violent thoughts, or the fear of harming yourself or other people. Other common compulsive behaviours include repeatedly checking on people you love to make sure they are alive and safe; or counting, tapping or doing senseless things to try and relieve their anxiety.
With respect to possible causes:
· Research indicates that close relatives of an OCD suffer are up to 50% more likely to develop OCD than someone with no family history.
· There is also a link between OCD and insufficient levels of serotonin. Furthermore, brain imaging techniques have shown that people with OCD have unusually high levels of activity in 3 areas of the brain …
(i) The caudate nucleus – which acts as a filter for thoughts coming from different areas of the brain. This is also the area which manages habitual and repetitive behaviours.
(ii) The prefrontal orbital cortex - Damage or low activity here is linked to feeling uninhibited, having poor judgment, and feeling intense guilt.
(iii) The cingulate gyrus - This area of the brain is believed to stimulate the emotional response to obsessive thinking. It also instructs us to perform compulsions – as a means of relieving anxiety.
In terms of psychological causes, behaviour theory proposes that OCD sufferers associate certain objects or situations with fear. Thus, they learn to avoid those fear-invoking stimuli by perform certain rituals. Cognitive therapists argue that whereas the majority of people can simply shrug off worries that pop into their mind, OCD sufferers cannot do not this. Instead, they ruminate on their fears.
Treatment does not usually focus on medications – although sometimes antidepressants will be combined with counselling. CBT is believed to be the most effective form of treatment. Srategies include helping the client to anticipate obsessive and compulsive urges – and then to take concrete steps to bring them under control. For example, if a client’s compulsive behaviour takes the form of repeatedly checking to see that their doors are locked, they could be encouraged to remove the keys after locking the door, and then put them in their pocket (where they’re easy to find).
1. Although researchers don’t know exactly why some people experience anxiety disorders, they do know that there are various factors involved.
2. For example, how we think and react to certain situations can affect anxiety. Some people may perceive certain situations to be more dangerous than they actually are (e.g., fear of flying). Others may have had a bad experience and they fear this will happen again (e.g., a dog bite).
3. Also, some psychologists believe that childhood experiences may contribute to anxiety.
4. Researchers know that problems with brain chemistry can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. Certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain involved in anxiety include serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
4. Many anxiety disorders run in families and are likely have genetic origins.
5. Certain medical conditions, such as anemia and thyroid problems, can also cause symptoms of anxiety.
6. Other chemical influences include caffeine, alcohol, and certain medications.
7. Finally, traumatic life events such as the death of a family member, witnessing a death, being in a war, or experiencing natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes may trigger anxiety disorders.
Although we all have to deal with external stressors (like going for interviews or sitting exams) much of our stress is internal stress. For example, how we interpret things – a conversation, comment or even a look – can determine whether something becomes a stressor. Also, negative self-talk, where we focus our attention on putting ourselves down and being self-critical, can often be a major source of stress.
So how can we reduce our level of stress?
1. Learn relaxation techniques: Practicing meditation and good breathing habits can improve your psychological and physical well-being.
2. Set realistic goals: Learning to say no is essential for some people. Assess your schedule and identify tasks or activities that you can or should let go. Don’t automatically volunteer to do something until you’ve considered whether it is feasible and healthy for you to do so.
3. Exercise: You don’t have to train for a marathon, but regular, moderate exercise helps ease tension, improves sleep and self-esteem.
4. Enjoy yourself: Taking the time for a favourite hobby is a great way of connecting with and nurturing your creative self.
5. Visualization: Athletes achieve results by picturing themselves crossing the finish line first. Use the same technique to practice “seeing” yourself succeed in whatever situation is uppermost in your mind.
6. Talk about it: Sharing your troubles with a friend may help you to put things in perspective and to feel that you’re not alone.
Source: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/take-control-of-stress/#.UQ3w0_Wt2dk (adapted)
1. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best. In reality, few of our worries actually become a reality. However, if you prepare in advance for things going wrong, you’ll have strategies available to cope and survive.
2. Write a list of everything you think you need to do, and then tick them off as you work through the list. That will help you feel more organised, and much more in control.
3. Do something to distract yourself – so your anxious thoughts don’t grow bigger in your mind.
4. Share your feelings with someone who understands and cares. They’ll offer you support – and you’ll gain perspective, too.
5. Confront the problem head often. It’s often the uncertainty that worries us the most – so face up to your worries – and take the steps you can.
6. Choose to do something that help you to calm you – like listening to your ipod or chilling with a friend.
7. Choose to be thankful. There are so many things to be grateful for. Compose a list of those, and you’ll find your worries fade.
1. Try to keep things in proportion. Don’t keep reviewing, and reflecting, on your worries.
2. Try to be balanced and reasonable. Recognise that we all feel bad at times, and have to cope with a whole range of emotions.
3. Think of ways to distract yourself so you don’t keep returning to ingrained, and negative, thought patterns
4. Do things that help you to unwind and relax (like reading, exercising or talking to a friend.)
5. Be aware of your own rhythms and patterns. There are certain times (such as when we’re tired or hungry) when we tend to slip over into negativity. Just recognising this can help us gain perspective.
6. Know your personal triggers, and avoid them if you can.
7. Try and get some exercise as it helps lower your stress chemicals levels and helps you to cope with an onslaught of bad feelings.
8. Let go of the past, and forgive yourself and others. If you keep on looking back it will rob you of the present.
9. Don’t be self-critical, or put yourself down. This is the time to be kind and understanding.
10. Remember that tomorrow is another day – and hang on to the hope that you can have a happy life.