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  • Tom Dunsdon

Stress and anxiety

Hi guys and welcome to my latest blog post, I wanted to write a short post about stress and anxiety and what these are. I also thought this would be a good time for this post now due to there being a lot of both around at this time.

So let’s start with a definition- what is stress? The word stress is usually used in today’s world to describe the feelings that people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope, I should say here that some stress can be defined as good stress but for the purpose of this post we will focus on “bad stress “. The demands that cause bad stress can often be worked related, family related or even possibly strangers who have decided to interject into our day in some negative way. At such times we can often feel overloaded, under tremendous pressure and very tense or emotional. Stress affects everyone, from every walk of life and is a completely normal reaction that we all will experience from time to time when faced with situations that we feel under pressure in. Stress can be looked at in terms of external and internal stressors. External stressors are sources of stress that we are aware of around us, these can include traumas, life experiences or simply daily hassles. Internal stressors are the sources of stress that are inside us and are often the most common sources of stress. They are the thoughts and feelings that pop into your head and cause you to feel unease, these can include unrealistic expectations, uncertainties, low self-esteem, and apprehensions.

So what can we do to help ourselves manage stress in our everyday lives? Well, there are a number of simple things we can do that can help, for example we can use calming breathing exercises, we can talk to a trusted friend or loved one about how we are feeling, we can use meditation or mindfulness and of course, we can always talk to a professional. There are also more practical things we can do at the moment stress happens to reduce the impact it has on us, we can think the word ‘change’ and link this to a change in our thought pattern, we can remove ourselves from the situation if only for a few minutes to calm our thoughts and feeling and possibly, if the stress is being put on us by others who are asking us to achieve too much with too little, which in today’s world is unfortunately only too common in many work places and employment situations, we are always entitled to say No. In fact, that might be one of the biggest skills in handling stress we can ever learn (I may well write a future post on this alone, if anyone is interested?)

Now we have looked at stress, let us look at anxiety.

Anxiety is a persistent feeling of worry, fear, dread, or nervousness. Most of us will feel anxious at times, especially when faced with stressful events, difficult situations or changes in our life we cannot control. It’s a natural human response when we perceive that we are in danger and it’s an effect of the flight, fight or freeze response we have hard wired into us. However, if these feelings of nerviness continue for long after a certain event, happen for no reason or cause interruptions to our everyday lives then this is when they start to be a problem and can lead to anxiety attacks (commonly referred to as panic attacks). Unfortunately our fight, flight or freeze response was once a key survival instinct but in our modern world it can all too easily become activated when not needed and also all too easy become overly active which is a major contributor to anxiety conditions. The physical effects of anxiety attacks can often be very scary for the individual who is experiencing it and if it is the persons first attack, it is not uncommon for that individual to think they are having a heart attack or even to think they are going to die, for this reason if you are experiencing severe anxiety, it is always a good idea to contact your GP. Although therapy may well be the way to help you control and even overcome this in the long run, there is no harm in seeking help from you GP in the form of medication to help and of course with such serious physical symptoms, it is always best to check there is nothing else going on as well.

So now we have an idea of what anxiety is, how can we help control this in our everyday lives? Well as with stress one of my favourite simple techniques is to install the word ‘change’ as a trigger to help you interrupt the thought process and hopefully stop the anxiety dead in its tracks. Of course this sounds simple and it is possible to learn to do this on your own, but it is often more effective if done with the aid of a professional and that of course brings me onto my second tip- seek help from a therapist who has good experience of working with anxiety. Other things that can be done on a day to day basis to help with anxiety are to cut down on alcohol intake, try to get a good night’s sleep (between 6 – 8 hours a night), take gentle regular exercise and make time in the day to relax. As with stress, mindfulness and meditation can also be a particularly good way to combat anxiety, but unlike stress, anxiety can often need professional help to overcome, so my final tip here is if you need it, do not be afraid to ask for help, there is no shame at all in doing so.

Well guys I hope you enjoyed this brief post about anxiety and stress, of course this is just a very brief look at what is a massive subject and there is a lot more information available out there on the NHS website and the other various organisations that are there to help. If you would like to give me any feedback on this post, suggest topics for future posts or want to contact me for any other reason please feel free to drop me an email at tom@bestlifethereapies.co.uk

Until next time,

To your best life,

Tom.

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