What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is combination of unpleasant physical feelings and thoughts that are typically associated with uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry. Anxiety is normal – we all become anxious from time to time. For example, it’s normal to feel anxious when on a rollercoaster or before a job interview. It becomes a problem when it interferes with life in the absence of a real threat, or goes on too long after the danger has gone.
It’s important to note, though, that we DO NOT want to get rid of our ability to experience anxiety because it actually protects us from danger. We want to fix it (i.e., bring the anxiety down to a more manageable level) so it works properly for us.
Most people don’t recognize their anxiety for what it is, and instead think there is something "wrong" with them. Some become preoccupied with the physical symptoms (e.g. stomach aches, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, etc.), whereas others may think they are odd, weak, or even going crazy. Unfortunately, these thoughts only make people feel even more anxious and self-conscious.
Anxiety affects your body, thoughts and behaviours. Take a look at the statements below and see how many of them apply to you:
- I spend much of my life worrying.
- I experience panic attacks.
- I have frightening fantasies and daydreams.
- My thoughts continually race around in an uncontrolled manner.
- I feel tense and uptight much of the time.
- I fear people in many social situations.
- At times I feel a shortness of breath, discomfort in my chest, abdominal discomfort, sweating and headaches.
- I limit my activities or avoid certain situations due to my anxiety.
- My anxiety can make me feel depressed.
- My uncontrolled thoughts cause me to feel that I’m going crazy.
Please note that the physical symptoms in statement 7 should be checked out by a medical doctor to rule out physical causes such as heart disease.
There are a number of ways that counselling can help you relieve your anxiety and learn to cope better with the anxiety you are experiencing.
- Helping you to gain insight and understanding into your anxiety by exploring the factors that are contributing to your anxiety, what triggers your anxiety, and how anxiety is affecting you.
- Examining the role that your patterns of behaviour and patterns of thinking and self-talk may be having in maintaining your anxiety, and how making changes in these patterns can help reduce your anxiety.
- Relaxation and mindfulness techniques that can reduce the amount of anxiety you experience and help you relieve anxiety when it is present.
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