It is also unrealistic to think that we can be rid of all anxiety if we want to survive dangerous situations and thrive – achieving great things.
It’s a catch 22, that our brains intelligently plans and organises our lives but also hypothesises fearful situations and anticipates negative outcomes.
Anxiety is a problem when it is a constant barrier in enjoying your life and when it invades many aspects of your life. With full blown anxiety, the brain and mind is locked into worrisome thoughts and dread scenarios, that are seen as real threats that need to be attended to immediately. The worries hang around for months and months causing real pain and suffering.
Learning about anxiety signs helps you recognise it early.
Feeling irritable or uneasy
Constantly worrying about things
Developing elaborate plans to avoid certain places, situations or objects
Having difficulty relaxing, concentrating or sleeping
Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, muscle spasm, sweating, shortness of breath, headaches and nauseas with no physical cause.
Types of Anxiety.
Not all anxiety is exactly alike. Anxiety can take the forms of panic attacks that occur out of the blue, uncontrollable concerns and worry about everything or anything and repeating behaviours to reduce anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
“I feel anxious all the time, about everything.”
“I worry about anything and everything.”
“I try to avoid talking to people if I can. I just feel so embarrassed.”
“I’m worried that people are talking about me, I just try to stay on my own”
Specific Phobias: “I really want to travel overseas but I’m too scared to go on a plane.”
“All of a sudden It’s like I’m having a heart attack. Panic just comes out of nowhere.”
“I’ve stopped driving, because panic attack comes out of nowhere.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
“I can’t leave the house without checking and checking if everything has been switched off. I’ve just stopped going out.”
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:
“Since the accident, I can’t sleep, I can’t think. I’m having dreams of what happened.”
Anxiety constantly pulls and distracts to worrisome thoughts and feelings. With practice, you can enrich your attentional skills and strengthen the mind using Mindfulness. Tune into your senses and re-orient to the here and now with this grounding technique.
5 things you can see.
4 things you can feel.
3 sounds that you can hear.
2 things you can smell.
1 thing you can taste.
We often don’t know where people are at in their story with anxiety. Fixing your friend or loved one’s problem is not often what is needed.
Most people find it helpful to have someone to really listen to them. This is showing empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of the person you love and care about. Empathy is a skill that strengthens with practice and takes strength and courage.
Strengthen the mind using Mindfulness. Tune into your senses and re-orient to the here and now with this grounding technique.
“Well it could be worse…let’s turn this into a positive” or “I’ve been there, why don’t you try this?” Sometimes it seems easier to be the rescuer and problem solve. It can also be uncomfortable for us to watch someone’s suffering especially when we love them so we dismiss the feeling. Empathy is putting your own stuff aside and sitting with them in their feelings despite your own discomfort.
Is it worry, fear, embarrassment? Naming the feeling tames the “fight or flight” reactive brain and can help your partner or loved one think more clearly.
Communicate your understanding of that person’s feeling and be curious. Try - "It sounds like you are in a hard place now. Tell me more about it.”
To understand another person’s feelings we also need to practice being in tune with our own. It can be tough on the relationship when someone is struggling with anxiety. It can also be exhausting supporting someone. You need to recharge your own batteries to be able to support someone else.
Moments when you’re in the car, when they’re having a snack or even when they’ve walked into the door.
When I was in undergraduate psychology, I found an ad for an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) therapist for young children and infants with autism.
In the past few years, in the company of teens in my work and in my personal life, I have found myself suddenly struck by euphemisms like “vintage” and “retro,” as if some-how I have entered into this age bracket of urban slang that suddenly fits me.