It’s a story that I hear repeated often as a counsellor. Clients, who struggle with fear and anxiety, find it is like a cancer it eats away at their self-confidence and self-worth. Yet by taking just a little risk it is possible to bring back some control and push back that anxiety. This is almost the saddest part of anxiety is the fear, the fear that it will return and grip your heart your very soul and prevent you doing what you know will help, what you know that you want to do. After all if you change nothing how can you expect to see a difference?
What follows are some of the secrets that you can use to corral that anxiety.
Anxiety is a lonely affliction, by its very nature we feel that we are the only one who can feel this way. We are the only person feels like this and we have to deal with it on our own. The best antidote to this is to open up to someone you trust, someone who you know isn’t going to judge, someone who is interested in how you feel and who can support you. You want someone who will listen rather than tell you it’s stupid or you’re wrong. Perhaps there is a family member or a friend. Of course there is professional help like a counsellor or a doctor, but if there is someone close to support you that is just as good.
Accept that you are going to feel anxious sometimes. Everyone feels anxiety at different points in their life, before an exam, or when a loved one is away or going for an interview. Normally anxiety helps us be ready an alert for these new experiences. But the problem comes when you are anxious all of the time or at the smallest thing. When you feel anxious notice some of the things that help you control the anxiety. I have known clients who challenge themselves to put probabilities on their fears. What is the likelihood that your spouse will die in a plane crash, given how safe the industry is? Other clients boundary their anxiety I am going to write in my journal what my fears are, so that later they can compare what they feared with what happened. Others boundary by time, I will only allow myself to think about this for 10 minutes then I’m going to go and … I even knew one client who imagined a big volume control and at first it was set to 10, then they imagined turning it down to 9 and so on. The point is not to try each of these, but to find out what helps you reduce your anxiety.
A journal can be useful, but only if you notice what worked as well as what did not. Write down some of the things that are going well and how you feel about them as well as the things that make you fearful or anxious. This is a great way to keep things your life in balance. If it is all anxiety you probably need to get help with solving your issues.
Realise that the anxiety and fear have built up over many years so they are not going to disappear overnight. They take time to build and time to recede. Perhaps you will find it easier to take little steps towards controlling your fear: Jennifer was afraid of meeting new people, slowly she became more and more reclusive to the point where she couldn’t leave the house. Working with her counsellor, she first just imagined what going outside would be like, remembering the positive the sun on her face, and the negative the risk of meeting someone. Then as she became comfortable with that they moved to looking out the window and looked at the fear and the opportunity, then being at the door, then the garden, the street. Jennifer can now go out and enjoy many of the things you and I take for granted, but it took hard work and risk, indeed she still finds shopping centres hard places to go but she conquered her fear of going out.
Medicines are not the whole answer, but if you talk to your doctor they can prescribe a range of medicines (that you won’t become addicted to) that can help to reduce the anxiety while you tackle the issues that you face.
Finally, many people find that a good practical step is to have something you can do a task, which you have to concentrate on, mostly because it prevents you sitting and mulling over the anxiety in your mind making it worse each time. Remember that you are not alone feeling this way it is one of the most common problems in the UK today and many, many people each year get control and move on with their lives.