The issue I find I’m dealing with most often during LifeHeal Coaching sessions at The Retreat, is anxiety – while I’ve had many different situations that have come up, anxiety seems to be a recurring theme. Many people talk of feeling like they are drowning and or out of control when they start to feel anxiousness building up.
In this post I want to talk about what anxiety is, and how to know if you’re affected by it, and finally, how you can work on resolving it. Firstly, as with any condition, everyone’s experience is different so this is a post that will generalise on how most people experience it.
Anxiety usually arises during/after a two stage process, and it goes something like this;
1. You judge a situation to be a threat
2. You weigh up and calculate your ability to cope successfully with the threat
Here are a couple of examples.
You get caught in the snow. You deem this to be a threat as you don’t consider yourself a confident driver (1.), you start to panic as you consider whether you have the practical skills to get yourself home (2.)
Your friend hasn’t called again, even though she said she would (1.). You start to worry you have done something wrong and whether you need to speak to her about it, you begin to fear that you are being rejected (2.)
Anxiety arises because of an ‘over-sensitive alarm system’. In both of these situations nothing has happened yet, but the client is already playing out all the negative scenarios that might happen as a result of the initial incident (and ignoring the possibility of an innocent explanation, or positive outcome).
When people are experiencing anxiety, they are over-estimating the degree of the threat, and underestimating their ability to cope, this can spiral into a ‘thought storm’ of negativity that looks something like this – I’m not able to cope with anything, I’m such a failure, I don’t know why I bother even trying, everyone hates me, I have no money, I’m a terrible mother…..and on it goes.
If this process is allowed to manifest itself further it can turn into depression – the negative thoughts continue and feel very real, this realisation of the ‘truth’ (even though factually false) is depressing and you find yourself feeling more and more hopeless about your situation. Soon you become unable to cope with work or basic household tasks, and so you experience an episode of depression.
Some of the physical symptoms of anxiety include: a racing heart, nausea, sweating, crying, poor concentration, poor memory.
Emotional symptoms can be panic, a feeling of helplessness, overwhelm, fear, loss of control, and a feeling of being trapped.
Can I cure my anxiety? Yes I think you can (and at the very least you can reduce the symptoms)
If you look at what anxiety is, it’s a set of symptoms resulting out of your own thinking. You are creating the reality here, therefore the good news is that you can change it.
If you change your thinking, anxiety can be reduced, and that over-active alarm system can be turned down, back to a normal level.
There are many reasons people experience anxiety including: recent or prolonged exposure to stressful situations, childhood trauma or an illness – all of these can contribute to a heightened sense of threat, along with a lack of self esteem and self confidence making you feel like you can’t cope.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques are an effective treatment for anxiety as it allows the client to ‘unpack’ past experiences, to reassess them with fresh perspective, often relieving them of some of the esteem and confidence issues as well as excess emotional baggage, which means they are always in a state of low level anxiety which will rear up quickly as soon as a threat presents itself.
CBT techniques also help the client to become aware of their thinking in the moment, this awareness can help them downgrade any threat as rational thoughts enter the equation and threats are assessed from a place of calm confidence.
If you’re experiencing anxiety, LifeHeal Coaching Discovery Sessions (new clients only) are just £25 at The Retreat, this is an opportunity for you to experience the process and find out if it’s something that might work for you.