COUNSELLING BLOG

Posts tagged anxiety

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How to Stop Worrying

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”.

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Avoidant (or Anxious) Personality Disorder

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.

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Some Information on the Highly Sensitive Person

Roughly 20% of the population struggle with high sensitivity. Typical traits include the following:

1. As students, they work differently from other people. They often pick up on subtleties and may think deeply about a subject before sharing in a discussion or contributing in a classroom setting. (This does not necessarily mean they don’t understand the material, or are too shy to speak in public. It has more to do with the way the person processes information.)

2. They tend to be highly conscientious in their work. They notice and pay attention to details, and they think things through very carefully. Also, often being highly sensitive is equated with higher levels of intelligence, being highly intuitive and having a vivid imagination. Highly sensitive individuals work and learn best in quiet and calm environments.

3. Highly sensitive students and employees generally underperform when they are being evaluated. They are highly conscious of being watched, and this inhibits their ability to function at their peak.

4. Although some individuals who are born with this trait may seem to be more introverted by nature, being introverted and highly sensitive do not always go together. Instead, environmental factors have a greater influence on how the individual feels and reacts.

5. People with high sensitivity are more sensitive to both negative and positive experiences. Thus, they are more affected by rough treatment, pain, heartaches and insensitivity from others … but also seem to benefit more from being treated with kindness, care and thoughtfulness.

6. Other common characteristics of the highly sensitive person being easily over-stimulated (hence the need for quiet and calm), being more emotionally reactive than others, and having higher levels of empathy.   

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Anxiey Attacks

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
  • Hyperventilation
  • 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.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/anxiety_types_symptoms_treatment.htm

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How to Cope with Public Speaking Nerves

1. Remember that people can’t real see how you feel. Act as if you’re feeling calm and no-one will know how nervous you really feel inside.

2. Before speaking, visualise yourself giving a great talk and capturing the audience’s full attention. Often we create what we imagine in life.

3. Use positive self-talk. You need to be there for yourself at this time, and to affirm that “you can do it”, and that you’re going to do well. Don’t undermine your confidence or be self-critical.  

4. Recognize that a degree of anxiety in normal, and is experienced by all the best speakers, actors and performers. In fact, that extra dose of adrenalin can actually enable you to do your very best.

5.  “To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.” Make sure “you know your stuff” and have prepared well in advance. Rehearse and practice well as that will give you confidence.

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Overcoming Social Phobia

1. Start off small. Force yourself to take one tiny step and be around people who appear to be relaxed, confident and at ease with themselves. Limit the amount of time you spend with them at first so it doesn’t feel too threatening or overwhelming.

2. Realise that most people are not judging you. Most people are concerned about themselves, and the kind of impression they are making.

3. Find people who share your interests – perhaps think about joining a team, group or club. That tends to make conversation easier as you start off sharing some common ground.

4. Motivate and push yourself. Tell yourself that “you can do it”, then visualise yourself succeeding and having fun.

5. Understand that social phobia is something we can overcome with practice and a positive attitude. Feeling at ease around others is a learned skill. The more we do it, the easier it becomes, and the more confident we feel.

6. When making conversation, talk about things that other people are interested in. Often it’s easiest to begin with safe topics like music, movies, sports, school, fashion …. Once you know the people better you can talk about topics they mention frequently.

7. If you’re in a large group, just hang back and relax. Notice what others are saying and doing, and what tends to “work” with those particular people – then slowly try saying and doing the same kinds of things.

8. Don’t worry if conversation is hard for you, just focus on being someone who is warm and kind.

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Coping Statements for 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.

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Tips for Reducing Exam Anxiety

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!

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How to cope with panic attacks

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.

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8 Things to Stop Worrying About

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. 

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Some Tips for Coping with Anxiety

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.   

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