Recognising the symptoms
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety comes in lots of forms and is one of the frequent reasons that people come for counselling. It can include:
- Social anxiety
- Post-Traumatic Stress
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Generalised Anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Constant worrying
Anxiety can come in tandem with depression, or it can be experienced alone. The symptoms of anxiety are varied, but can include:
- Physical symptoms such as butterflies, nausea or sickness, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, stomach or chest pain
- Feeling constantly ‘on edge’
- Feeling that noises are too loud or lights too bright
- Feeling irritable or ‘quick to anger’, especially when worrying about something
- Worrying constantly
- Feeling quickly overwhelmed
- Struggling to stay asleep or waking early
- Feeling compelled to complete certain rituals and fearing terrible consequences if you do not adhere to these rituals
- Having flashbacks to traumatic moments
- Sudden physical symptoms when a trigger is present, such as shaking or sweating
- Feeling paralysed by fear or unable to control escalating panic
Counselling for Anxiety
- When anxious, fearful or panicked feelings start to take over, make a point of removing yourself to a quiet space and focusing on feeling calmer.
- Take deep breaths and focus on the sensation of your feet on the floor. Focus all of your attention and energy on what your feet feel like and how the floor underneath them feels.
- Notice where in your body you feel most anxious. If you need to shake, let yourself shake but focus on shaking the stress and tension out of your muscles. If you cannot find a private space, allow yourself to focus on a repetitive movement of some part of your body; i.e. tap your fingers against your leg.
- Learn what specific things trigger your panic or anxiety. When you are faced with these things, focus on developing a grounding or calming strategy that you can employ quickly. For example, you could carry a scarf or item that reminds you of a person who makes you feel safe and steady and grasp this when anxious.
- Keep a journal of all the things that make you feel calmer and the things that make you feel more anxious and practice the things that make you feel calmer. Calming activities could include walking, reading, playing the piano, painting, writing or other creative outlets.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants that will make anxiety worse.
- Avoid alcohol or other depressants that may temporarily relieve anxiety but result in longer term health problems.
- Try to maintain good sleeping and eating routines; overtiredness and low blood sugar can contribute to a feeling of shakiness that can be misinterpreted as anxiety.
- Get some exercise or fresh air to shake off excess adrenalin.
Anxiety Counselling Techniques and Tips:
Counselling is one of the best treatments for anxiety. As well as offering practical tips and techniques, it can help to tackle the root causes if feeling anxious. Our counsellors are all well-trained in, and up- to-date with, recent developments in neurology that indicate what is happening on a brain and biological level when you are feeling very anxious. They are able to work gently but firmly to provide the sense of internal safety that is often missing. Counselling provides a space to gradually uncover what is triggering your anxiety.
Once the trigger is understood, it is possible to explore and review what has happened to make you so anxious, to explore and resolve limiting beliefs, and make sense of why your fearful symptoms are still disrupting day-to-day life. As well as providing an empathic listening ear, your counsellor will be able to provide specific strategies to reduce panicked and fearful feelings, ‘turning down the volume’ long enough that you can think clearly again. Sometimes medication can help, and you may wish to consult your GP alongside counselling.