Anxiety & Stress
If you are feeling anxious you may suffer from some or all of the following common symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat or Breathing difficulties
- Avoidance issues
- Excessive worrying
- Intense or irrational fears (panic disorder)
- Feeling faint, dizzy or nauseous
Although experiencing some degree of anxiety in mild situations is normal, excessive fear can leave a person feeling paralysed, disoriented and traumatised. Some people may experience anxiety over more than one issue, suffer from depression, or face problems with drugs or alcohol abuse.
Diagnosis is generally made by a doctor who may either treat the anxiety with medications or refer the person to a psychologist or counsellor. With the correct kind of treatment and support, most people are able to overcome anxiety and move on with their lives again.
Following are some suggestions to manage anxiety:
Identify the problem – one way of doing this is by keeping a diary and recording when the anxiety occurs or anxious thoughts set in. This will help you to recognise the situations that contribute towards the anxiety, making it easier to develop different options to manage it. It will also help in recognising when the mind shifts towards negative thoughts.
Affirmations – Positive sayings or quotes that lift the spirit and motivate a person into a more positive way of thinking.
Breathe – When feeling anxious, people often breathe more rapidly or shallowly which can result in a lack of focus or confusion. Learning a breathing technique that slows down the breath can relieve the symptoms allowing clarity to return. Two methods of learning to manage the breath is through meditation or yoga.
Meditation – Meditating for a period of 20 minutes can contribute towards removing anxiety, producing an inner calm and peacefulness. There are a range of meditation techniques that can be used such as Mindfulness, Transcendental and Muscle Relaxation.
Stress is often caused by the continual demands made upon us such as relationships, work, finances and child rearing. Stress affects how you feel, your memory, concentration levels and your ability to focus on day to day activities. Most people either ignore or brush aside any warning signs of stress feeling they need to show they are coping. This places them under enormous mental and emotional pressure which can result in mental or physical health problems.
When under stress, the body goes into the fight or flight mode, releasing hormones to help you cope with any pressure you are feeling. Once this has passed, your stress levels should return to normal. If they don’t return to normal and stress remains continuous, these hormones remain in the body. This will result in an increase in stress levels which in turn will have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
Stress is not an illness in itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress early on to avoid complications, and also to give you time to develop healthy coping methods.
If left untreated, stress can worsen or exacerbate physical and mental health problems such as:
- Allergies and eczema
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Diet and Weight problems
- Sleep problems
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Aches and pains
- Loss of libido
Dealing with Stress
Different people react to stress in different ways. There is no single method for dealing with stress, so it is advisable to experiment with different methods until you find one that works well for you.
Following are some easy suggestions to try in order to deal with the effects of stress.
- Relaxation techniques
- Exercise or some form of physical activity
- Time management
- Time out or ‘me’ time
- Keeping a journal/writing
- Affirmations to help you change or shift your perspective
Support for Stress
One way of dealing with stress and the issues related to it is talking about it to others. This can be done one on one with a counsellor or within a group situation. Another method is attending a stress or time management class which will help you to develop more effective coping methods. Ask your doctor to recommend support groups in your area.
We can help you to deal with the stresses in your life and teach you more effective methods of coping. Click on the link below which will take you back to the counselling page where you can contact us to make a booking.
Lantz, P. M., House, J. S., Mero, R. P., & Williams, D. R. (2005). Stress, life events, and socio-economic disparities in health: Results from the Americans’ changing lives study. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 46(3), 274-88.
Lucassen, P. J., Pruessner, J., Sousa, N., Almeida, O. F., X., Van Dam, A. M., Rajkowska, G, Swaab, D. F., Czéh, B. (2014). Neuropathology of stress. Acta Neuropathologica, 127(1), 109-35.