Anxiety Management Course -Session 2
Anxiety Management Course
Welcome to Session 2 of the course. Paddy will lead you through the session and in between the videos is the information from the course booklet.
When a natural reaction becomes a problem
Feeling tense, stressed or anxious is very common and one in six adults experiences anxiety or depression (or a combination of both) at some point in their lives. It is likely that many more suffer significant levels of anxiety but don’t go to their doctor to get diagnosed.
Doctors can prescribe medication but research has shown there are many other ways of combatting anxiety. Understanding the causes and symptoms of anxiety while learning simple techniques can help anyone, whether the problem involves worrying too much, finding certain situations difficult to face, having panic attacks or obsessively checking things such as whether doors are locked. These techniques also help those who have more general feelings of anxiety which they can’t explain.
But feeling anxious isn’t always a problem. Anxiety is a normal reaction and it keeps us safe. When we think we may be in danger, our bodily systems speed up so we can act quickly and protect ourselves.
We also need a healthy level of tension to enable us perform well as it helps focus and concentration.
But anxiety becomes a problem when it interferes with our lives and we feel unable to cope. This is when we need to learn how to manage it.
What causes anxiety?
One of the main causes of anxiety is the amount of stress you are under.
It may be that you have had a number of difficult things to deal with recently or several stressful experiences which have happened one after the other.
A number of stressful events over a number of years can also build up to create anxiety. It may have been triggered by a relatively minor difficulty but combined with everything else we suddenly find we’re unable to cope.
For some people it may be that one major trauma causes anxiety.
Another reason some people develop anxiety while others don’t is to do with the kind of temperament we’re born with. Some of us are more inclined to worry and react more quickly to stress and may also taking longer to calm down again.
When we’re young we may also have learned from the adults around us that worry and stress were the way to respond to certain situations.
How anxiety can keep a hold on us
Remember that once you start to feel anxiety in your body, how you then think and behave will have a big impact on whether you maintain the anxiety or start to manage it.
Examples If we avoid going to the supermarket when it’s busy because we think we’re going to have a panic attack then we will continue to feel anxious about busy supermarkets.
If we avoid going in lifts because we’ve developed a belief that it’s likely to get stuck or fall to the ground, then we will continue to feel anxious about going in lifts.
So when we think we’re avoiding anxiety we’re actually keeping it going.
And recognising this is an important step in moving towards managing it.
All about juggling
Once upon a time there were two jugglers…
…and they juggled very well every day until…
…they reached the point where they were no longer able to cope. And this wasn’t because of any fault or failing in them. It was simply that they could only cope for so long with such a great amount of stress. And that would be true for anyone.
We get so involved in what we’re doing each day that we may not always think about taking time to relax or realise that the tension we feel can contribute to anxiety.
Being in a state of anxiety for much of the time means we’re being hyper-vigilant. In other words, we are always on guard, trying to be ready for the next difficult situation we’re going to have to deal with.
But the problem is that being hyper-vigilant is exhausting and it lowers our resilience. When our resilience is good we feel able to cope and we can build it up again by reducing our stress on a regular basis.
Make a list of the things you know can or would help you to relax.
Just as breathing in a relaxed way helps to control and calm our anxiety response, you can release physical and mental tension by learning how to consciously relax your body and mind. This will also help to build up your resilience again.
On the next page is an exercise for you to try. And here are a few tips to help you to get the most benefit from it.
Decide in advance when and where you are going to practise relaxing. If you make a decision to do it ahead of time you’re more likely to do it and it will help you to develop a routine.
You will probably find it helpful to choose a place which is quiet and where you’re unlikely to be disturbed.
It may also be useful to ask other people in your life to help you by not disturbing you during your relaxation time.
Try not to worry about whether you are doing the exercise well or right. The important thing is that you’re making time for yourself to slow down and relax.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to a build up of stress.
Finding ways to relax is an important part of managing anxiety.
Suggestions for the coming week Try to show yourself the same kindness and compassion you would to a friend while remembering there are reasons why you’re feeling anxious at the moment.
If you don’t already have something in place to help you relax, try to choose one activity and do it for 30 minutes a day. You will feel the benefit.
Practise a breathing exercise 3 times a day.
Keep practising and we’ll see you next week for Session 3.