Anxiety

An anxiety cartoon showing a cup of tea making comments such as what if I'm too hot...

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. It's a normal healthy response to situations we find threatening, such as going into hospital, taking an exam, starting a new job or facing a change in circumstances. Anxiety in such situations is normal. It helps us perform well and prepares us to deal with an emergency. However, not all anxiety is helpful or productive. Some people find themselves getting highly anxious in everyday situations, excessively worrying even when there is no real reason to.

Anxiety is very common; Around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem such as anxiety each year.

What does it feel like?

The symptoms of anxiety can be worrying too, particularly if they are not recognised as such. Some of the physical signs of anxiety include:

  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Weakened/tense muscles
  • Sweating
  • Churning stomach
  • Need to urinate
  • Loose bowels
  • Dizziness / feeling faint
  • Dry mouth

Anxiety causes psychological effects too, for example

  • Worrying all the time
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling snappy or irritable
  • Feeling depressed
  • Loss of self-confidence

In such situations people can worry, there is something seriously wrong with them. This increases their level of anxiety. As they become more anxious, the severity and frequency of their symptoms can increase. This, in turn, makes them even more anxious: a vicious circle!

If a person lives with anxiety for a long time it can leave them permanently on edge, unable to do the things they want to do in life. It can be extremely debilitating.

What can you do about it?

“A person cannot just simply decide not to be anxious anymore”
(Anxiety Care UK).

Snapping out of it just doesn't work. Often when people try to "just stop worrying", and fail at it, they feel even worse about themselves and worry they will never get better. This just adds to their woes.

Okay, while you can't just "snap out of it", there are some things you can do to help yourself. These include:

  • Talking through your worries with a trusted friend
  • Facing the things you’re afraid of, overcoming the fear
  • Identifying your anxiety and the things that trigger it so you can develop effective ways to overcome your fears
  • Use breathing exercise, relaxations and meditations to help you relax
  • Reviewing your lifestyle, particularly diet, exercise and alcohol consumption as all of these can have a have an effect on how you feel.

There are some excellent self-help materials on the Internet and elsewhere. See our Resources page for some ideas of where to look.

Beyond Self-Help

While mild to moderate, short term, anxiety can often be managed through self-help, persistent, recurrent or more severe bouts of anxiety may need professional help and even mild to moderate anxiety can be helped by talking things through with a trained professional. Counselling can reduce the problems associated with anxiety by helping you:

  • Understand what anxiety is and begin to address some of the underlying issues
  • Recognise, manage and reduce the physical symptoms
  • Challenge and reframe some of the unhelpful thinking that feeds your anxiety
  • Change behaviours relating to the anxiety.

If you'd like to talk with someone, in confidence, about your anxiety, why not call us on 0151 601 2145


Special thanks to Gemma Correll for permission to use the Anxietea graphic

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