Are you thinking about anxiety counselling? If so, the following questions might have occurred to you:
- What is a normal level of anxiety and what isn’t?
- Am I worrying too much about something I can’t do anything about?
- Can I stop or am I “just a worrier?”
- How do I stop?
It’s important to understand that anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations. Anxiety can sometimes feel like a life sentence – some people do actually say “I’ve always been a worrier” but although managing anxiety requires some work, it is possible to free yourself of chronic worry which can lower your mood and make life miserable.
What characterises worrying and anxious thoughts?
A useful definition is “repetitive thoughts about the future that are pessimistic.” Many of our worries take the form of “what if?” statements. Do any of the following sound familiar to you?
- What if I never find the partner of my dreams?
- What if my relationship breaks up?
- What if I end up alone?
- What if I or someone I love gets an incurable illness?
- What if I lose my job or my money runs out?
- What if I make a mistake or make a fool of myself?
- What if I make the wrong decision?
- What if I never get a good night’s sleep?
- What if……
Unlike an annoying thought which pops up and then is easily dismissed, worrying or anxious thoughts get stuck like a broken record – they are repeated over and over and you feel like you HAVE TO work out an answer to them immediately. The endless tape of worries about possible negative outcomes are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea and fatigue.
How can anxiety counselling help me?
Other people are quick to advise us to simply “STOP WORRYING”, perhaps telling us to think positively and believe in ourselves – but if it was that simple, we would have done something about already! Freeing yourself from worry involves work on your part – unfortunately there is no magic bullet. When you come for anxiety counselling, you will have the chance to talk over your most common worry or worries with your counsellor.
He or she will then take you through some or all of the following steps:
1. Becoming aware
You need to be aware of your worries if you are going to do anything about them. This involves doing a bit of detective work and teasing them out, one by one. First of all, you might keep a written record of your worries – the most common negative thoughts about the future that are bothering you. Feel free to add to the list whenever you want to. Now see if you can categorise them into a few categories. You will probably find that your worries are are all about a few things – this means you will be able to narrow the target to aim at!
2. What triggers your anxiety?
Sometimes our anxieties are triggered by particular situations. For example, you might begin to worry about money when you spend more money than you want or when a bill comes through your letterbox. You might worry about your appearance more before you go to a party or work event. For example you might be lying in bed and start thinking “I’ll never get to sleep. I won’t be able to concentrate tomorrow. I’ll look exhausted. I wont be able to cope at work / with the children. “ Or when you receive a bill “I am running out of money. Soon my account will be empty and I wont be able to pay my rent/mortgage. I’ll be homeless. And if I lose my job, then what?
3. How is worry related to your emotions?
As you begin to notice specific worries and their triggers for your anxiety, start to also notice how you feel when you are worrying. Emotions connected with anxiety include: irritability, fear, sadness, anger, helplessness, hopelessness. For example: I have to give a presentation at work tomorrow. I’ll make a mess of it and my boss will be angry. I feel hopeless and sad.
4. How is worry related to how your body is feeling?
At the same time as you tune into your thoughts and feelings, see if there is any change in your breathing – is it more shallow, more rapid, more laboured? Check out how your neck and shoulders are feeling – are you feeling more tense? Are your muscles tightening? Is it difficult to relax? Notice where your worry is “felt” in your body. For example: I’ll never get to sleep: My body is tense, my breathing is shallow and my chest feels tight. I feel anxious and irritated.
Powerful strategies and techniques to combat anxiety
Now you are armed with your own personal list of worries, triggers and symptoms, anxiety counselling can show you powerful ways to manage your anxiety. For more information on useful techniques and strategies, go to the following article.
See also my Stress, Anxiety and Panic Attacks page
See also my Anxiety Counselling Cork page.
Need some more advice and support?
If you are interested in learning more about anxiety counselling, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!