31/08/2012 10:17

Feeling anxious? No need to panic

Psychology writer Eve Menezes Cunningham tackles the topic of anxiety and how you can overcome your own worries.

LeAnn Rimes (© Andrew Milligan, PA Wire, Press Association)

LeAnn Rimes has just checked into rehab

More people are opening up about anxiety. LeAnn Rimes just entered rehab for 30 days to help her learn tools she can use for stress and anxiety, Victoria Beckham fought a panic attack before performing at the Olympics and The Help's Emma Stone has spoken about her own struggles with anxiety, too.

Even if you sometimes feel you'd love to step away from your regular life but stress and anxiety rehabilitation just isn't an option, there are lots of things you can do instead.

"Stress is usually attributed to a known cause, such as your workload or financial worries," says Anxiety UK's CEO, Nicky Lidbetter (their helpline, staffed by people with experience of anxiety, is 08444 775 774). "Anxiety is the feeling you have when you think that something unpleasant is going to happen in the future. It is completely normal and something that all human beings experience from time to time, regardless of age or sex.

"It can be a helpful emotion as it can help you prepare for events and improve performance. However, anxiety can become so severe and intense that it becomes debilitating, restricting daily routine and life as a whole. At the point where it has got out of proportion and you feel much more anxious than you would expect someone else to be in your circumstances, you can be said to be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is treatable.

Victoria Beckham (© KM Press Group, Rex Features)

Victoria Beckham had a panic attack before performing at the Olympics

"You needn't feel like you should just 'snap out of it'. Leaving anxiety to persist can make it worse in the long run. Seek help and support from your GP or specialist organisations like Anxiety UK for help managing your anxiety symptoms long term.

"Physical exercise is proven to help benefit mental wellbeing as it naturally burns the adrenaline that is in our systems when we're anxious. Going for a brisk walk, cleaning the house or doing gardening are easy ways to get active. Diet can also affect mood. Eat as regularly as possible avoiding sugary foods and caffeinated drinks. Speak to a trusted family member or friend about what you are feeling. Utilise self help resources, such as books and relaxation CDs."

"When we are anxious, our system is overloaded with stress hormones and our brain prepares for fight and flight," says Heather Mason, a psychotherapist and founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind at The Minded Institute. This unique blend of yoga therapy, psychotherapy, mindfulness and neuroscience supports people with anxiety, stress and depression in helping themselves. "Whether someone is anxious because of a spider, fear of abandonment, a party, abuse, trauma or is just nervous in general, each situation includes a feeling of being out of control, confused and upset.

"While we have more than twenty years' research to support the notion that mindfulness effectively softens the impact of anxiety, once the stress response cascade begins, the power of anxiety will normally exceed our capacity to be mindful of it no matter how great our resolve, as we are hard wired to prepare for fight or flight.

"Through yoga practice, we start to rewire the nervous system helping it to become more resilient and less prone to anxiety states. We can even learn to curb anxiety as it is arising. Studies have shown that one hour of yoga increases levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter which drugs like Zanax mimic) and reduces cortisol (the body's main stress hormone) levels. Another study demonstrated yoga increasing alpha waves in the brain. These are the brainwaves found during states of mental rest and even sleep."

No matter where you are or how anxious you feel, using your breath can calm your system. Start by noticing it as it is and, as you feel ready, gently slow each breath making the exhale longer than the inhale. If counting helps, breathe in 2 and breathe out 4. Experiment with breathing in "calm" and breathing out "anxiety".

Remember that there's more to you than anxiety. Simply saying, "anxiety" aloud can reduce its impact. You might also reflect on how it is trying to help. Your body wants to be healthy and even the most negative seeming aspects have a positive intention. Give it some thought. Is it a clue to your need to take better care of yourself? To set some boundaries? To find a job or home that suits you better? You may end up making some very happy life changes as a result.

03/09/2012 15:08
it does concern me that wish we were heres comments like anything everything can be exagerated . but i know first hand that there are extremes of anxiety and some people are not truthefull with there health issues  .the sad facts is as a result of untruths monetary greed etc as always the genuine people to not get proper care its seems a normality for certain people organisations again etc etc to lie very sad world that we are in
03/09/2012 12:53
Lisa in your list you mention natural disasters, weather catastrophes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, widespread disease and famine. Surely your God creates these things in the first place?? And are you saying Christians are not affected by these things??
03/09/2012 13:58
Lisa, god didn't write the bible, people did. and a significant amount of it wasn't written for literally ages, simply passed on by word of mouth and therefore open to corruption either on purpose or by accident. History is written by the winners, Bible included. 

Being raised christian never saved me from anxiety. 
Having said that, I respect your opinion and wholly defend your right to express it. 
I just contradicted myself :s
04/09/2012 20:02
wish you were here spot on evaluation of everything nice one
03/09/2012 09:42
Lisa; your first para is enough. The rest is opium for the masses, another evil , addictive substitutive cop out  in stead of coping with reality.
03/09/2012 14:23
 Many anxiety disorders are exagerated ( if not invented) by doctors and big multi-national pharmaceutical companies.  It helps them keep a good bank balance.
         Stress and a certain amount of discomfort are normal parts of life.
          It takes the lows for us to appreciate the highs. 
      Drug companies rule the world and get away with murder..... Peter Duesberg exposed this but is now treated as a pariah by the medical "elite".
           Those with the deepest pockets rule...  check out  "The Insider" with R Crowe and Pacino
              eye opener.

01/09/2012 01:19
Such things as terrorism, War, natural disasters, economic disasters, crime, drugs, weather catastrophes, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, cannibalism,widespread disease, famine and such abominable beastly crimes would, make it be impossible for one not to suffer some anxiety.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 There is a countless amount of evil spirits roaming the earth today, whose main purpose is to deceive, corrupt and destroy whatever God created, including His written word (The Bible)Word.          

God is being scoffed while Satan and his dirty demons are gaining praise allowing, them much more control to deceive the world.
The only power over anxiety is the comfort which is only, found in Jesus Christ.


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