Perhaps you wonder what life would be like if you didn’t worry so much, if you were freer to take things more in your stride without overreacting and imagining the worst.
Maybe you spend a lot of time worrying about other peoples’ opinions of you, to the extent that it takes a lot of time to get ready before going out. You may feel sick inside before leaving your home in the morning whether for work or college or on the school run or to meet a friend. You may be sensitive to others around you and constantly compare yourself, feeling “less than” and often desperately unhappy about yourself. You may be on edge a lot of the time and if you are in a relationship, you may worry that your partner will leave you for someone else.
When someone experiences persistent worry like this, it is possible that they have carried the feeling for a long time, possibly since childhood. One of the ways in which a Brighton and Hove anxiety therapist may try to help you is by focusing negative beliefs and challenging them through structured exercises in-between sessions, to build evidence of a person’s capability – which will be the very opposite of what they usually feel.
For example, a person might be asked to keep a weekly diary of events, thoughts and feelings, so that in a therapy session, these can be reviewed and questioned. As we all make interpretations far too easily, it can be effective to coach your mind to consider other possibilities. Here is an example:
Client Y is nervous about picking her children up from the school playground because she doesn’t think other parents like her and she views herself as boring and overweight. She dreads waiting on the playground so she tries to be late for her children everyday. Therapy invites her to be on time for at least one day and to approach one other parent and initiate a conversation about their children. Client Y does this and even though she is very anxious, she finds this is an easy subject and strikes up a conversation with the mother of a child in her 6 yr old son’s class. She is then asked to continue this exercise and to increase the number of days she is on time and to speak to other parents on some days only, standing alone whilst waiting on other days. Whilst she stands alone, she is instructed to focus on her breathing, to slightly upturn the corners of her mouth (which sends a positive signal to the mind) and to notice as much as she can about her surroundings. The final exercise is for client Y to arrive 5 minutes early for school pick-up. Over a few weeks, these challenges help client Y to feel more confident about the school pick-up and she makes friends with a group of parents who start including her in their afterschool plans. At this stage, client Y is willing to start exploring the underlying reasons for her low self-esteem.
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Hove counselling for anxiety and panic
Catastrophising about small things or finding your thoughts easily spiralling out of control, can be terrifying and exhausting. Eating something new like a vegetable you haven’t tried before, hearing an unfamiliar sound at home or noticing someone walking behind you, could escalate worry quickly into intense personal fear that stimulates the fight and flight response to increase heart rate, breathing or trembling for example.
An anxiety counsellor or therapist is able to work with a person’s panic reaction so that the affected individual learns a few ways to calm down when he or she starts to feel out of control. Abdominal breathing is one method that can be very effective. As a person’s breathing typically becomes very rapid when they start to panic, they are instructed to find somewhere quiet to sit down and to place their hands on their tummy as they start to follow their breath and the movement of their tummy. They are asked to start counting as they breathe in and out, maybe to a count of 2 or 3 and to try and slow the pace as they breathe. After a while they are then invited to try and increase the out breath so it is longer than the in breath. It is likely that this will induce relaxation over 5-10 minutes.
EFT tapping or emotional freedom technique is another method that can be effective in helping a person calm down quickly. At Hove Counselling Practice you will be offered a demonstration of tapping and invited to learn the technique, if this seems to be helpful in reducing your feelings of anxiety and or panic.
Once a person has a method to calm themselves, it may then become possible to explore underlying reasons for their panic. Sometimes a specific future event like a social occasion or work presentation could trigger panic or it may be something that has happened in the past such as the loss of someone close through illness or suicide or a painful relationship break-up or an employment situation that has been complicated, resulting in job loss.
Unexpected things happen in many peoples’ daily lives and these can create tension and worry as people face them and try to manage. If a person already has other complications to deal with such as health issues, a recent loss, redundancy or relationship problems for example, then daily events might trigger very high levels of anxiety. When anxiety becomes overwhelming you may start to panic or catastrophise. Counselling might offer you the support you need to manage this type of anxiety as well as helping you to work through underlying difficulties.
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