Anxiety - Find better ways to cope

Anxiety is a range of feelings, physical sensations and thoughts we have when we are worried, tense and afraid. Some anxiety is useful, it motivates and helps us prepare for situations; travel, interviews, tests and all kinds of situations that are new and out of our comfort zone. We have evolved to feel anxious when in a threatening situation by releasing hormones that prepare us for action. After the threat is over our body hormones change and we can physically shake with the fight, flight or freeze response.

Anxiety can cause both emotional and physical symptoms such as feeling sick, headaches and a tightness in the chest. Everyone can worry and we all have worries about different things. Some people become fearful and anxious about their health, others worry about going out to new places and meeting new people and many feel anxious much of the time in a general way. Not all anxiety fits neatly into a category but it may have become a problem to you if;

  • It is very strong and lasts a long time

  • It is out of proportion to the situation

  • The worries are very distressing and you stop doing things you enjoy

  • The anxiety is becoming more frequent and you have panic attacks

Worry is one of the main symptoms of anxiety. It can start to become a problem when we spend too much time doing this.  We often worry to make sure  we will have done our best to make everything or everyone safe or fully prepared ourselves for every possibility that might happen. But there is a huge price to pay. It doesn’t really work and the time we spend worrying makes our daily lives a misery. Frequent worrying can stop us eating and sleeping properly or even make us restrict our activities. You might try and rely on other people to keep you safe and help you with everything but this can be unhelpful to maintain positive relationships.

Some people do have a tendency to be more anxious just as some of us tend to have more regular feelings of low mood. The anxiety didn’t just develop over night and it will take effort and practice to begin to overcome it. The good news is that many people do overcome the way anxiety dominates their life. There are many self help resources online and books that give lots of useful ideas and strategies. You need to experiment and try different ones that might work for you. By looking at these you might realise that there are many things you already do manage to do to control anxiety. 

You can try to limit the amount you worry and challenge the negative thinking. You can discuss anxiety with friends or family who often have ways that they manage. Relaxation and meditation techniques help you tolerate and lower the anxiety you are feeling.

But for some people, the anxiety has become overwhelming and they need some more specialist support alongside the methods they are already trying. What might prevent you from doing this is worrying that it won’t work or that nothing can help you. But many people do find they improve with  medication or therapeutic support. 

Specialist Support

Most NHS areas offer a range of provision for anxiety and depression (they often go hand in hand) called the IAPT (Improving access for Psychological Therapies). There is probably a waiting list, but it is free and the therapists are highly trained. 

Some people prefer to find private therap, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)  offer a Find a Therapist service to locate accredited therapists/Counsellors local to you. 

Useful organisations and websites include MIND, No Panic and Anxiety UK.

@Susan Thurlow 2019