Anxiety is something we all suffer from at times and it is a normal response to stressful situations. Anxiety becomes a problem, however, when we find it hard to switch it off and it begins to get in the way of everyday activities.
Does anxiety affect your relationships, wear you out or limit your life?
Sometimes, it can take a while to realise the impact anxiety is having and how much energy it uses. Perhaps it's only when it begins to take a physical toll -- affecting sleep, concentration levels or appetite -- that we really take notice. Or when a friend or family member points it out to us.
If you believe that anxiety is having a negative impact on your life, then it's important for you to know that you are not alone -- many others struggle with anxiety, too -- and that there are well-researched strategies you can use to begin tackling it straight away. These take patience and commitment and will be slightly different for every individual but they really can make a significant difference...
Neuroscience research in the last 20 years has revealed that there are actually two different pathways in the brain that can create anxiety, which is a new discovery, and it also means that there are two different approaches to managing anxiety. One involves recognising and tackling unhelpful thinking patterns -- a key part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) -- the other involves learning techniques to calm down the systems that produce 'fight-flight-freeze' reactions.
In my counselling, I work with clients to explore their unique experience of anxiety and identify which strategies will be most helpful to them. Building a relaxed, trusting relationship means we can pace the work so that it's customised and achievable.
If you require urgent help with your anxiety or would like to research more about the subject, the following websites may be useful:
Mind -- www.mind.org.uk
Anxiety UK -- www.anxietyuk.org.uk
No Panic -- www.nopanic.org.uk
Triumph Over Phobia (TOP UK) -- www.topuk.org
Many people suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Those with severe depression may need medication, available only through an NHS health practitioner, but counselling can be very effective for those with milder depression or those who are between bouts of depression but recognise signs of mood spiralling again.
For anyone who is experiencing low mood or depression, there are a number of self-help strategies that will always make a positive difference:
- Eating regularly and not skipping meals
- Tackling sleep problems
- Taking some form of exercise or just being a bit more active
- Identifying the everyday things that make you happy and making sure you do more of them
- Including more social activities in your week, so that you spend less time alone with your thoughts
- Keeping a mood diary so you can notice patterns
These activities, while they might seem simple and obvious, actually have a direct effect on the chemicals and pathways in the brain that cause depression -- so they are important! But the very nature of depression means you may find it too difficult to get motivated to look after yourself in this way.
If you come to me asking for help with depression, I will first assess whether your depression is mild, moderate or severe and whether counselling will be useful to you. After that, I will take time to get to know you as an individual and explore the pattern of your low mood and how it affects your life, sharing practical strategies to manage your mood.
If you have been experiencing severe or long-term depression, please don't hesitate to visit your GP, alongside any other help that you seek. If you feel very low and need to talk to someone urgently, do look up Samaritans -- www.samaritans.org or call their 24-hour helpline 116 123.
You can find more information on depression at:
NHS Choices -- www.nhs.uk or Mind -- www.mind.org.uk.