Anxiety and Stress
17th November 2010
The main issue I treat in Brighton & Hove are anxiety and stress related issues, this can deeply affect the way someone feels about and lives their life. I have compiled below some simple tips to think about and act on if you feel you are feeling stressed or anxious. It is amazing how much difference they can make when it comes to how you feel. If you have any other tips or observations then please feel free to add to the comments section.
Anxiety is caused by part of the brain called the Limbic System whose main function is to keep you alive though how it perceives the world around you. Various factors can make this part of the brain too aroused and too vigilant which can lead to feeling tense, stressed and anxious. Having a stressful life can also lead system being too aroused and over time can lead to anxiety issues as the body cannot deal with that type of pressure the way it used to.
Two things to remember are:
Anxiety and stress are not your fault – you are only able to do what your brain has evolved to do and what you’re conditioning dictates you to do. If you could do something different then you would be.
There is nothing wrong with you – Sounds odd but it’s true as you have a small part of your brain simply reacting out of context. We all have programs in our minds not working 100% and when we know how to change them then we can. If you act as if there is something wrong with you then people pick up on it and will treat you that way which just keeps cycles of anxiety going.
Here are some simple but effective life changes which you can make to help your limbic system calm down and see the world in a more helpful way.
Cut down and stop drinking coffee – Coffee & caffeine doesn’t stimulate it just adds pressure to your mind and body which makes it feel stressed out and this creates the illusion of being more energised. To help yourself you have to start cutting down and stopping altogether. I have lost count of the amount of clients who feel dramatically better from stopping their caffeine intake. Caffeine also stops your brain from working at its best so explore alternatives to help you feel calmer and more focused.
Get hydrated – “I know I should drink more,” is something most clients tell me about drinking water. Just a little bit dehydrated can make a huge difference to the way your mind and body feels. There are websites which can help you work out the correct amount of water to drink a day for your height and weight.
Alcohol – Uses up the feel good chemicals in your brain which lift your mood and help your mind function properly. Cut down and monitor how you feel after a few drinks, add water between rounds to have a break and get hydrated. If you are prone to doing stupid things whilst drinking then now is the time to change that as life is too short to feel bad about the mistakes made from your behaviour as this just adds to being more anxious and stressed.
Drugs – People wouldn’t take them if they didn’t feel good but the come down and the effect on the mind isn’t great for someone whose mind needs help to function properly. Get help cutting down and stopping whilst you sort out your head.
Breathing – Place one hand on your stomach and take a long deep breath through your nose and hold for a slow count of seven then breathe slowly out through the nose or mouth. Your hand should rise as you inhale; if it doesn’t then you may be shallow breathing which also adds to anxiety and stress. Practise deep breathing especially when feeling tense as it really can make all the difference.
Drama – It may be you or the people around you that create the drama in your life. It is now time to end that cycle and think about who is good for you in your life and who adds stress. Be honest with yourself and think about what drama you create and get help in beginning to end those behaviours.
Media – Your mind is influenced by what you expose it to on a daily basis, if it’s the type of content that keeps telling you how negative people and the world are then it is time to let your mind have a rest from it. Think news, video games, films, television and internet content.
Exercise – The benefits of exercising and the mid are well documented and too many to mention, the feel good factor from endorphins, increasing energy, stamina and looking good alone are worth doing it for. Choose forms of exercise you will enjoy or really have some fun with as this makes it fit into your life easily as part of healthy lifestyle.
Mindfulness / meditation – There are some simple techniques on my YouTube channel to help you slow down those busy and overactive thoughts. Most people seem to be put off from meditation as they don’t think they have time or will be able to do it. You can meditate for as little as 5 minutes just by focusing on your breath and training your wandering mind to come back to the focus on your breath. You can explore various mindfulness and meditation techniques to suit your lifestyle and believe me when I say your mind will benefit in so many ways. There are also two albums of meditation music on The Life Doctor website store for only £1.99 each.
Slow down – Begin to slow your life down in the areas which feel to manic, if you keep trying to juggle too much then at some point you will begin it will begin to fall. Learn time management and prioritising task skills. Developing strategies for handling life will last a life time and are worth investing time and money in.
Thought management – Some people choose some very interesting times to think about stuff which makes them feel anxious. For example, just before bedtime isn’t a great time to think about anything that makes you tense. Get a journal and just get your thoughts and worries out well before bedtime. It’s a great way for your mind to sort out and process anything that you try and avoid thinking about as it will just wait until you try to relax to bring it up. If you notice a lot of negative, doom and gloom stuff coming out then work on creating solutions and asking yourself is what you are writing true? Instead of thinking about why something is happening, ask instead how is this happening and what can be done?