Anxiety can gradually build up when perhaps we find ourselves overloaded by stressful circumstances. When we feel anxious it can be overwhelming and debilitating. It can become very hard to see clearly and can stop us in our tracks, from living our lives as we had before or as we have the potential to.
Anxiety stems from our ‘flight or fight’ response. This happens when our body feels as if it is in danger. The fight or flight response is an automatic reaction which we have no control over. Our bodies release hormones, such as adrenaline to make us more alert.
Normally when the threat has gone our body triggers different chemicals to help us relax. We will calm down after the adrenaline rush. However, with the anxiety fight or flight response, this tends not to happen. We habitually read fearful situations as if they are dangerous.
We are all familiar with the expressions that describe common physical feelings relating to anxiety, for instance having butterflies in the stomach or jelly legs.
Anxiety can show itself in a range of physical signs, such as an increase heart rate, muscle tension, dizziness, sleeplessness, hyperventilating and wanting to use the toilet more. These are caused by the hormones released by the fight or flight response.
Counselling can help to pinpoint some of the triggers or underlying issues that are causing the anxiety. This may be unresolved childhood issues that are re-emerging, anxiety following health related issues, worry around having teenage children, relationship issues, menopause, elderly parents and family related issues.
Counselling is an opportunity to separate out the different elements which may be building up into an overwhelming number of worries and unhelpful thinking patterns.. Hopefully by dealing with one element at a time in therapy it can make things more manageable and give a new perspective.
We may use strategies such as breathing techniques, mindfulness and self compassion-focussed meditation to begin to manage the anxiety and help to slow down the physical response that causes anxiety. We will also use the ‘window of tolerance’ and ‘the pendulum’.