We can all suffer from anxiety at some time in our lives – perhaps at exam time or before a job interview, when having to make a presentation at work or making that important wedding speech. Anxiety can be crippling and may stop us doing what we want to do but it can also give us that edge to perform better, if controlled.
How do we develop anxiety?
Anxiety is caused by negative thoughts – worries about what might happen in the future or things that happened in the past. When we become anxious, the part of the brain responsible for the fight/flight response perceives us to be in danger, and produces stress hormones like adrenaline. This affects the natural production of certain brain chemicals and in particular a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger in the nervous system) called Serotonin. If we have a nice steady flow of Serotonin we tend to be more motivated, happy, confident and we cope better – but anxiety can interrupt this flow.
How can we manage anxiety when it happens?
Anxiety feels extremely uncomfortable and can stop us in our tracks but it can be managed with practice.
- Concentrate on your breathing, think about each breath, make it slower and deeper, calming the mind and reducing the effects of adrenaline.
- Distract yourself with a film, a book or a puzzle and get the mind to focus on something else.
- Relax with a long bubble bath, soothing music, yoga or mindfulness exercises.
- Remember that anxiety is your brain responding to danger, providing the resources to fight or flee, and you know that the feeling will pass.
How can we reduce the anxiety in our lives?
Anxiety can be reduced by positivity which will increase the flow of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that produce healthy mental well-being.
- Positive Interaction – we are designed to be social creatures! Get out and meet friends, join a group or a club, volunteer to help people, talk to someone new. Smile at people – they will smile back and this in turn will brighten your day.
- Positive activity – exercise is great for the brain and it doesn’t have to be running marathons! Walk to work, get off the bus a stop early, take the stairs instead of the lift, take a walk out during the lunch break or take the children to the park at the weekend. Don’t sit and let those negative thoughts take over.
- Positive thinking – not so easy this one if you are particularly anxious, but it is possible to change your thoughts! Think about the good things in your life – make a list of what is good, however simple. Be creative, perhaps learn a new craft or rediscover a past skill. It can be helpful to read about the lives of inspirational people.
You don’t have to live with the discomfort of anxiety.
If you have problems with anxiety, you could consider hypnotherapy as a drug-free approach to making your life more comfortable. Contact me to arrange an initial appointment.