Anxiety: The Ultimate Control Freak

Anxiety can be debilitating, it can be consuming, it can even make us feel like we are going mad. Many people come to me with anxiety and cannot understand why it is having such an affect on their lives. It grabs onto us, takes hold and just won’t let go. It feeds on our energy which is when we find we don’t have enough.

So if we take a deeper look into anxiety we can see just how complex it really is. When a client comes to me they feel like they are just rambling through the entire session and are convinced they are making absolutely no sense at all, but that’s not true. I can piece bits together and know where is best to start, so to me my clients are making perfect sense.

I know how anxiety works, I know because I do suffer from anxiety, I won’t bore you with the details but when my anxiety switch gets flipped I’m a hot mess. Panic ensues, heart races, irrational thoughts, fear that is totally illogical but in that moment it’s hard to sort it into the rational/logical box. I have pulled my anxiety apart bit by bit and found exactly what works for me.

With my clients one of the first things I do is explain a bit more about anxiety, how it looks, how it feels, how it can affect our body physically, emotionally and mentally. This really does help the client to make sense of it and understand that what is happening is out of their control, well for the moment anyway. I ask my clients about their eating, sleeping, exercise pattern. Quite often I’m told that they don’t feel like eating or they just don’t have the time. They may struggle at night getting to sleep and or staying asleep. This often happens and can have a snowball effect. Anxiety feeds on your body so it is important to eat regularly and have a healthy sleep pattern, this gives you more energy to deal with the anxiety. Of course I should point out that it’s not just as simple as saying ‘ok I will eat 3 meals a day and make sure I get 7-8 hours sleep every night’. It’s all a work in progress and hopefully putting a few things in place and adapting over time it will help clients to move forward towards that goal. I should also state that not everything works for everyone so it’s a good idea to try things and if they don’t feel right or feel like they are not working then to try something else. Its important to find the right combination for you.

So here It helps to bring in some coping mechanisms, these maybe simple breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation techniques, it all depends on the client and what works for them, but this is where I would start. We can then work on what the triggers are and recognise when these triggers are about to happen, that way we are ready with the coping mechanisms. This sounds simple but unfortunately its not, there’s no quick fix, this can take numerous sessions but in the meantime we are working on exploration, practicing and adapting coping mechanisms and moving towards regaining control.

Anxiety preys on your fears, your weaknesses, it wants to be in control, it wants you to panic. When you are faced with the fight or flight response it wants you to choose flight, an easy choice in the moment. This is where we kick anxiety’s backside and choose to fight. It doesn’t happen overnight but it will happen, through counselling and motivation it can be beaten, it will be beaten.

This is just a bit about anxiety, if I wrote everything I know it would be more like a book than a blog. Remember nobody is immune to it. Take care of yourself!



Can Stress be a positive thing?

Stress happens when we find ourselves in a situation that we struggle to cope with, the pressure of these situations causes our bodies to react mentally and physical. These changes to our bodies trigger our fight or flight response. A survival response that releases hormones in the body that are crucial for us to survive. Stress can present itself mentally and physically. The body can suffer from shortness of breath leading to anxiety or panic attacks. Other symptom's could appear in the form of headaches, stomach upset, tension in the muscles, sleep disturbances, sweating and loss of appetite. Normally once the situation that raised our stress levels has passed our hormone levels will return to normal and we will continue with life as normal. However if we find ourselves constantly under stress then our hormone levels will remain high and our bodies will continue to show signs of stress. This is when we need to take control as it begins to become unhealthy stress.

If a person is able to recognise the triggers of stress they would be able to learn how best to manage it. This is in all cases even when experiencing positive stress we still need to be able to manage it. Stress management training would be beneficial in giving a deeper insight into what stress is, what causes it, the triggers, the signs and symptoms of stress and how to deal with them. Learning techniques such as breathing and relaxation exercises and practising them regularly will help to bring stress levels down. They can be used any time, in the morning, on a lunch break, at night and before, during and after any stressful events a person may encounter.

Stress is often thought of as negative but it is important to remember that stress can also be a good thing. There are a number of factors where stress can be positive. Positive stress (eustress) can increase our motivation, it is only short term, it is within our ability to cope, it can improve and enhance our performance and although we may feel nervous it can also make us feel extremely excited about something (Mills, Reiss, Dombeck, 2008). A prime example is studying for an exam, some people start studying early, the stress motivates them to get an early start and try to learn as much as possible before the exam. Others wait until the last minute and then cram as some people work better under pressure. However in both cases stress is a key motivator as long as this is kept under control and does not develop into unhealthy stress. If it begins to become unhealthy it is important to recognise this and manage this in a healthy way. Stress can also be a positive factor in physical performance (Knowlton, 2015) . The release of adrenaline speeds up the heart rate and metabolism, because of this release of adrenaline our reactions and reflexes will increase (fight or flight). In situations such as sporting events this release of adrenaline can be used to increase speed and fight tiredness. Although as stated before positive stress should be short term and if it continues could cause long lasting affects on the body. There is a long list of things that we consider to be stressful; moving house, getting married, having a child, changing jobs, but once done these things are considered as exciting positive life changes. All these things are stressful at the time but it is not unhealthy stress and is normally well within our ability to cope.

So if a person can recognise the triggers that cause stress and have the correct knowledge then they can learn how to manage stress on a day to day basis reducing negative stress and increasing positive stress. Stress is more often that not seen as a negative thing however stress in some circumstances can be a positive thing and if recognised can help people to achieve goals, increase their motivation and manage certain situations more successfully.



Hypnotherapy explained

It seems that many people have a misconception about hypnotherapy, they think they may no longer be in control and will in fact be extremely vulnerable.  I want to tell you that this is not the case.  Hypnotherapy puts you into a relaxed state similar to that of a daydream or the state you experience whilst trying to get to sleep at night.  The state between being awake and asleep.  Both of which are easy to 'snap' out of, that is if you want to of course.  Hypnotherapy puts you into a relaxed state where your unconscious mind is open to suggestions.  This whole time you are still in complete control because your conscious mind is always there in the background ready to protect you from anything you do not want to do.  

You will probably know about hypnotherapy from watching TV programmes where a Hypnotherapists asks the audience to come up onto the stage are and hypnotised into doing something silly.  I can assure you that this is not how hypnosis works.  I work with my clients to find out what the issue is and how hypnotherapy can help.  Hypnosis is based on suggestions implanted into the unconscious mind.  These suggestions are the clients, not mine.  I cannot implant anything in your unconscious mind that you do not want there as your conscious mind will jump in and warn you.  So don't worry I cannot uncover your deepest secret (unless that's why you have come for hypnosis) or your bank details and I most certainly cannot make you run around clucking like a chicken.




Reasons why people decide not to have counselling

There are a number of reasons why people decide against having counselling. Counselling is becoming more and more acceptable in modern society but only a few years ago there was a stigma attached to it. Now that the stigma is fading there are other reasons why people decide not to seek help in times of distress.

One of the main reasons is the cost! Some people understand the cost but do not understand the value. What is the value of not being distressed, in pain, unhappy. We pay money to service our cars every year because we need to look after them to keep them running well. Our health and well being is just as important, so why don't we do something about it?. Counselling can help you to manage stress, change negative thoughts and give you a positive outlook overall giving life long lasting benefits.

We also consider that asking for help is a sign of weakness, that we are a failure and that is what other people will think of us. We ignore the problem hoping it will go away and avoid asking for help because its embarrassing and humiliating. Just because we feel these things does not mean that they are true. Counselling can help you to refocus, change the irrational self defeating beliefs you are feeling into positive ones. You may have been able to cope before but if those coping mechanisms no longer work counselling can help you to find new ones.

There is also the question 'how can counselling possibly help me?' Counselling can help bring about positive change, increase your well being and give you the tools and techniques to use now and further on down the line. It is a difficult decision to put yourself into someone else's hands and trust them with the one or many things that is causing you the most distress at that time. This is why Counsellors are non-judgmental, warm, kind and professional and will provide you with a safe environment. It is very empowering for a person to be able to talk freely and openly about their thoughts and feelings and not be judged. It is a good idea to look around for the right Counsellor for you.