What is Anxiety?
Everyone has feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes, this is just a part of being a human and alive, and is a normal response to certain, possibly difficult situations. We could be worried about an upcoming social event, a doctors appointment, an upcoming flight or how our relationship is going. We have these feelings that bring to the front, an awareness of risks and what we may need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. Anxiety is a future based emotion, due to the anticipation and pre-viewing of a future event and what may or may not happen, the uncertainty.
Thanks to evolution, our brain responds to these perceived threats or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, thereby inducing the 'fight, flight or freeze' effect, that many of us may feel during anxious uncertain moments. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause physiological effects such as increased heart-rate, elevated blood pressure and a feeling of more energy due to blood sugar levels increasing, which are all physical symptoms of anxiety.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
Frequent Urination or Diarrhea
Shortness of Breath
Muscle tension or twitches
Shaking or trembling
Changes in appetite
We can also experience emotional symptoms such as overthinking, ruminating, feelings of dread, anticipating the worst, trouble concentrating, feeling tense and jumpy, irritability and feeling like your minds gone blank.
But if you have an anxiety disorder these feelings of fear and danger can be ongoing and interrupt your daily routine long after the threat has gone. They can make you feel as though things are worse than they actually are.
Everyone’s experience of anxiety disorders is different. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you constantly tense, worried or on edge?
Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school or family responsibilities?
Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can't shake?
Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren't done a certain way?
Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
The different types of anxiety disorders and conditions closely related to anxiety disorders:
General Anxiety Disorder: If constant worries and fears distract you from your day-to-day activities, or you’re troubled by a persistent feeling that something bad is going to happen, you may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD are chronic worriers who feel anxious nearly all of the time, though they may not even know why. Anxiety-related to GAD often manifests in physical symptoms like insomnia, stomach upset, restlessness, and fatigue.
Panic attacks and Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an aeroplane.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted thoughts or behaviours that seem impossible to stop or control. If you have OCD, you may feel troubled by obsessions, such as a recurring worry that you forgot to turn off the oven or that you might hurt someone. You may also suffer from uncontrollable compulsions, such as washing your hands over and over.
Hoarding Disorder: Hoarding disorder is a chronic difficulty discarding possessions, accompanied by a dysfunctional attachment to even worthless items. It can lead to excessive accumulation of possessions (or animals) and cluttered living space. You may attribute emotion to inanimate objects, have a strong sentimental attachment to items, or see the use in any object. These beliefs can make discarding items overwhelm you with feelings of anxiety, guilt, or sadness.
Phobias and Irrational Fears: A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals (such as snakes and spiders), fear of flying, and fear of heights. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
Social Anxiety Disorder: If you have a debilitating fear of being viewed negatively by others and humiliated in public, you may have a social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. Social anxiety disorder can be thought of as extreme shyness. In severe cases, social situations are avoided altogether. Performance anxiety (better known as stage fright) is the most common type of social phobia.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extreme anxiety disorder that can occur in the aftermath of a traumatic or life-threatening event. PTSD can be thought of as a panic attack that rarely, if ever, lets up. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks or nightmares about the incident, hypervigilance, startling easily, withdrawing from others, and avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: While separation anxiety is a normal stage of development, if anxieties intensify or are persistent enough to get in the way of school or other activities, your child may have a separation anxiety disorder. Children with a separation anxiety disorder may become agitated at just the thought of being away from mom or dad and complain of sickness to avoid playing with friends or going to school.
How can I help myself?
Not everyone who worries a lot has an anxiety disorder. You may feel anxious because of an overly demanding schedule, lack of exercise or sleep, pressure at home or work, or even from too much caffeine. The bottom line is that if your lifestyle is unhealthy and stressful, you’re more likely to feel anxious—whether or not you actually have an anxiety disorder. These tips can help to lower anxiety and manage symptoms of a disorder:
Connect with others. Loneliness and isolation can trigger or worsen anxiety while talking about your worries face to face can often make them seem less overwhelming. Make it a point to regularly meet up with friends, join a self-help or support group, or share your worries and concerns with a trusted loved one. If you don’t have anyone you can reach out to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and a support network.
Manage stress. If your stress levels are through the roof, stress management can help. Look at your responsibilities and see if there are any you can give up, turn down, or delegate to others.
Practice relaxation techniques. When practised regularly relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days (broken up into short periods if that’s easier). Rhythmic activities that require moving both your arms and legs are especially effective. Try walking, running, swimming, martial arts, or dancing.
Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night.
Be smart about caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. If you struggle with anxiety, you may want to consider reducing your caffeine intake or cutting it out completely. Similarly, alcohol can also make anxiety worse. And while it may seem like cigarettes are calming, nicotine is actually a powerful stimulant that leads to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.
Put a stop to chronic worrying. Worrying is a mental habit you can learn how to break. Strategies such as creating a worry period, challenging anxious thoughts, and learning to accept uncertainty can significantly reduce worry and calm your anxious thoughts.
How can hypnotherapy help with anxiety?
Previously hypnotherapy was considered an unconventional method of therapy. Today it has a lot of research backing it up and is becoming more mainstream by the day. You can use hypnosis as an effective treatment option for guided relaxation, intense concentration, and focus to help you achieve a heightened state of awareness.
In this trance-like state, you are able to explore painful feelings, thoughts, and memories that might be hidden from your conscious thinking mind. You are then able to rewrite the negative stories with empowering ones. As a result, you will be able to perceive things differently in your everyday life.
Research reveals that hypnotherapy is a wonderful way to deal with phobias, substance abuse, eating disorders and even low self-esteem, all of which involve some kind of anxiety.
Reframing, ego reinforcement, age regression, parts therapy, metaphors, and anchors, are all methods and techniques used in hypnotherapy to help release tension and manage anxiety.
There are two main reasons why hypnosis works so well for anxiety:
1) Hypnosis helps you relax your mind and body, which can help boost your immune response. The healthier your immune response is, the better equipped you are to manage anxiety and stress.
2) Hypnosis can help you address the underlying causes of your anxiety. Sometimes events that happened in your childhood or even years ago can still cause you to feel anxious. Hypnosis can help you access those negative memories deep in the subconscious mind and reframe how you think about them. This helps you to rewire your brain to accept a more empowering perspective.
The more you work with your subconscious mind, the more your thoughts will change. Eventually, you will get to the point where your anxiety is easily managed.
What does this mean in practical terms?
Let’s say you experience anxiety when it comes to networking and meeting new people. It is possible that the memory of something as simple as a playmate making fun of you is still affecting you today. With hypnosis, you can easily confront that memory and move past it. Anxiety may also be a learned or a conditioned response. If it is a learned response, it can be unlearned. Let’s say you witnessed a terrible car crash and today you are terrified of driving. With hypnotherapy, you can gently work through that fear, desensitize and calm that anxious response. Hypnosis can be an effective solution to treat anxiety and stress by going to the root of the issues, reframing negative stories and rewriting them with empowering ones. Positive suggestions help you focus on things in life that are going well, which helps shift focus from the negative to the positive.
If this sounds like you and you need help, get in touch with us now and book a free consultation with us, so that one of our therapists can explain to you how hypnotherapy works in greater detail and how it can help you over anxiety, allowing you to live the life you want.