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Close-up detail





Managing Stress and Anxiety



Before I discuss how I work with people let us take a clear look at what anger, anxiety and resulting stress reactions are and how they operate in our day to day life. In fact, strange as it may sound, anxiety is a healthy condition by helping us to react quickly to potentially dangerous events. But when we experience this anxiety when no danger is present to trigger it - an angry person, a difficult test, demanding situations we experience different forms of anxiety.

Anxiety in the form of adrenaline surging around our body making our muscles and senses heightened and aware is a natural normal and healthy reaction. The 'fight (ANGER) or flight (ANXIETY) response' was designed to protect us by preparing us to flee or fight for our lives thousands of years ago and so it is now but for different reasons.

The human brain processes hundreds of small pieces of information per second and much of this is dealt with by our unconscious mind. What may be viewed as important will flash into our conscious mind so that we enter this heightened awareness. At this time hormones such as adrenaline increase which results in our heart beating faster so that blood reaches parts of our body faster to prepare the body to either run away from an attacker or fight the attacker. .

We breath faster to provide extra oxygen to release more energy and we sweat to prevent our body overheating. Often the mouth feels dry as the digestive system slows down to allow more blood to reach the arm and leg muscles and our senses become heightened as the brain becomes more alert to process all important information about both the situation we face and the environment around us.

Once this protection response against perceived danger drops down to a normal level as we see the danger has passed other hormones are released in our body to relax us down but the tense prepared muscles may cause us to shake a little as the muscles begin to relax.

Such tension and heightened awareness my result as we prepare to sit an important exam, prepare for an interview of begin a new job or career.

This is Anticipatory anxiety as we mentally prepare can affect our sleep, our appetite and ability to concentrate. However, once we begin the exam, attend the interview or begin our new job then such natural anxiety will disappear.


Your First Steps

Naturally many many people are attracted to what we call 'self medication' in the form of alcohol. However attempt to limit how much you drink given for many people in large measure this affects the way we process information around us and can actually aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.

Sleep (you can learn more about this by clicking on this link to my dedicated page here on the website) is important and so make sure that when stressed you give your body additional sleep and rest.

As I work with my clients one of our primary goals is helping to accept that you cannot control everything and so put your stress in perspective - step back for a few moments and examine if it is really as bad as you think?

Severe Anxiety

This results when anxiety levels have stayed operating in our mind and body for a long period of time which creates a circle which I shall discuss later which results in anxiety distorting how we see our world. The outcome is difficulty in dealing with every day life given the feelings of anxiety have been around for so long that you feel powerless, out of control and sometimes are left feeling that you are so out of control that you are going mad. Sometimes if these feelings reach a point where you are in state of thinking you are overwhelmed by them then this may result in a panic attack. . . .

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack happens when your body over reacts to your body's normal response to either fear, to stress or to excitement. The normal levels of anticipatory anxiety have built up over time to a level where an extreme reaction can result in a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, excessive sweating, nausea, sometimes chest pains along with discomfort in the normal breathing pattern along with a sense of losing control and often shaking limbs and a feeling that our legs are turning to jelly.

Once again in my career working with people with severe anxiety the person often reports thoughts such as they are going mad or that they are going to black out or are having a heart attack. Naturally such powerful threatening thoughts add to the anxiety.

Panic attacks often happen very quickly with symptoms I have outlined above peaking within about ten minutes Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. Some people I have worked with experienced one or two of such panic attacks and then never experienced another whereas some people had such attacks once a month or several times a week with many people reporting how these panic attacks appeared often to happen without warning.

In a small number of cases such panic attacks happened whilst the person was a sleep. These nighttime attacks are a result when your brain is on high alert due to long term anxiety and even though you are sleeping a part of your brain detects tension changes which is seen as danger resulting in suddenly waking in your sleep. Such an attack can be frightening as suddenly waking from a dream state leaves you both confused and feeling very exposed. . . .

Why are you feeling so anxious?

Often this anxiety may relate to either

- your personality, your current life circumstances,

- your current or past childhood experiences

or, as my clinical experience over the last 35 years has shown me a combination of these factors.

Now lets look at some of these KEYS which may create such a reaction.

Your Past Experiences

If an event or series of events which created anxiety in your past where you were unable to deal with the associated emotions related to such anxiety then it is natural for you to feel anxious in terms of facing similar situations in the future in case they link and create the same feelings as before of distress.

One example for a client of mine, Mary, was how feeling anxious was a powerful part of her early life because her parents always saw and related to the world as a hostile and therefore dangerous place to live in. Naturally, Mary has spent her life thinking and feeling the same as her mother and father.

Some theories from psychology suggest that Mary effectively inherited a tendency to be more anxious and that during her early informatative development period in her this powerful element from her childhood became a part of her personality.

As Mary and I worked together and she grew to feel more comfortable and accepting of me and the ideas we were exploring she consciously and then emotionally began to see how her anxiety related to the 'small child' within her and so embraced the fact that she was now a grown adult who had power of her life and the decisions she could make.

Physical Everyday Habits

From coffee, poor diet, physical and / or mental exhaustion to self medication using alcohol or drugs or having a stress based lifestyle then all of these habits both mimic and trigger symptoms of anxiety. We look at these factors in our work together and here is more detail which you can read about here on my website.

Your Fear of Losing Control in Your Life

Many people, and this is a growing number in our current society, are worrying about the future. In my professional experience when people do not feel in control of important aspects of their life such as money, relationships, career then this anxiety shifts and becomes a form of free floating anxiety naturally leading the person to start worrying about events which are beyond their control such as global warming, of being attacked, developing cancer or having a heart attack or losing their job.

Obviously after a while we start to fear the symptoms of anxiety themselves especially because the anxiety leaves us feeling out of control and so this results in a powerful vicious circle. Such a circle starts with feeling anxious because we dread feeling the symptoms of anxiety and the impact it has on our day to day life and ability to function which immediately results in actually experiencing these powerful and unwanted symptoms of anxiety which began by having anxious thoughts.

As a result of my clinical experience I focus on the related areas which result from stress in our lives and below you can see a clear diagramme of the issues which can be worked on in one to one sessions.






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