Anxiety: Meet Anxiety Girl

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I was so happy to see so many people embrace her when I posted her on my Facebook page. I was happy because people were willing for their name to be seen with her when I asked who could relate to the picture, and willing for their friends to see that they had liked her and had some kind of an affiliation with her; and why not – WE ALL HAVE ANXIETY!

Absolutely everyone has anxiety but some feel the effects of anxiety more frequently and acutely; they may react to distressing but not dangerous feelings that many others would ignore – this is when anxiety can become a problem.

For many, you will already be familiar with what I put in this blog, as often when we consistently experience something, we search it on the internet and become very familiar with anything that fits our experience; but please read on as breaking the pattern of anxiety is about up-dating our experiences, our thoughts and our feelings with each day and successes.

Depression and anxiety are often experienced together; both of these either keep you in the past or the future, but what about right now? Anxiety can strangle all the positive things a day can hold from your experience – if you take a moment, what things can you think of that you could embrace more fully, each and every day, which are sometimes lost due to worry and panic?

o   The smell of your fresh coffee in the morning

o   The smell of the damp air

o   The smile you receive from your child for just being you

o   The snuggle with your pet

o   The goose bumps you feel when you recognise your favourite song

o   The embrace from someone who loves and respects you

I’d love to hear what it is that you've come up with!!

Sometimes anxiety can be experienced due to having a busy life, with many plates to spin. Managing multiple aspects of your life, or spinning plates, means you can never take your eye from the task as it would be likely that one, if not more of the plates, will come crashing down. With so many things to keep track of, with so many daily tests that are perceived as success or failure, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed.

How do you manage?

With many tasks can come a chaotic internal world where thoughts, doubts and lists buzz around your head and with chaos comes stress; so what can you do to clear your mind? This strategy works for me and so I would like to share it with you and it’s a concept you've probably used already, in a different context. I put everything on paper in a mind map – sounds simple right but what does it solve? Well for me, it allows me to see what I have to do instead of having to constantly go through the list in my mind, because when I do that I will undoubtedly forget something and then kick myself later. I am very visual anyway, I passed my degree with mind maps so we have a very close affiliation, but they also allow me to prioritise which means I can compromise on my list and decide what needs to be done today and in what order, and what can be left until tomorrow or even the weekend – how freeing does that sound?! As well as making my head space a much more quiet and nice place to be, by mind mapping my tasks, I can break down the overwhelming tasks into mini, more manageable tasks; it works wonders.

"What ever the present moment contains, embrace it as if you had chosen it"

 - Eckhart Tolle

For some people, anxiety isn't about work load or stress but a significant part of their lives with varying triggers – for you, a plan is essential. If you experience generalised anxiety you're likely to be conditioned by fear – many things will have ‘what if’ attached to them and you will feel as though you don’t have options; or each option has a fear aspect attached. Even if you are in therapy, there is 1 hour in your week with your therapist – the rest of your waking hours are with you to manage best you can. A plan means knowing what works for you, what helps you manage and overcome your anxiety so that you can experience space, success and progress. Contracting with yourself that your time and energy in your plan is well spent and essential will set you in good stead. It’s likely that anxiety will bite you on your butt at times, especially when life has picked up its pace or there’s been an incident or extra responsibility for you BUT – remember that progress can’t be undone!! Experiencing a set-back in your progress doesn't mean that the re-set button has been pressed – you will need to ground yourself, reflect, plan and continue so that eventually; symptoms will abate.

Useful things to remember:

  • Feelings are not facts!

  • Whilst feelings and sensations can’t be directly controlled, by controlling thoughts and impulses, feelings and sensations will be positively impacted

  • Progress can’t be undone!!

  •  ‘Why me?’ is a sign that you are living in the past – take each situation on its own merit, recognise the changes you’ve made, the control you have and try to find at least one positive.

  • Managing anxiety can be tiring but with persistence and endorsing your efforts – symptoms will abate.

On a final note, if anxiety seems to be a permanent and significant part of your life, since you can remember; whilst managing your anxiety is paramount to give you a standard of living you deserve, the main therapeutic purpose would be to look at where the development of the anxiety began. Together with a therapist you could map out your experiences and you may uncover things that will change how you view and experience your anxiety - making management easier and life happier.