Like a high percentage of the population anxiety and stress has unfortunately been a part of my life for a very long time. I find it really difficult to clear my mind and it feels like it is always busy - stressful thoughts, worries, irrational fears and anxiety. Sometimes I lie in bed trying to sleep but I just stare at the ceiling, I have anxious thoughts and fears flying around my mind. In the end I have to get out of bed, I then go and write down what is troubling me. I have found that this is the only way to clear the thoughts from head.
When you look at your life, your age and circumstances and all the challenges you have in front of you, debt, work, raising a family, not only do you start to become stressed, but getting through the day takes up so much of your brain power and energy that five minutes of peace and relaxation are a luxury that you cannot always obtain. Sometimes you just want to sit and do nothing. However when you do actually do just sit and do nothing you mind starts to speed up and the worries and irrational thoughts fly around your head again, there seems to be no way of stopping it. Due to the anxiety that you are suffering the negative thoughts seem to attach themselves to each other and before you know it one problem has turned into two, three or four.
Anxiety and stress when controlled and managed are okay, but it takes effort to re-wire your mind so you can take back control. I can now control my mind and in turn the anxiety and negative thoughts can be turned off. Through mindfulness and exercise I have learnt how to relax my mind. I am getting better at turning the negative thoughts, worry and stress into positive thoughts. Yes some anxiety is natural, it is part of being a human, it has been planted in us over thousands of years of human development. The problem is we do not generally know how to use or control it.
What is anxiety?
According to Anxiety UK Anxiety is a normal, if unpleasant, part of life, and it can affect us all in different ways and at different times. Whereas stress is something that will come and go as the external factor causing it (be it a work, relationship or money problems, etc.) comes and goes, anxiety is something that can persist whether or not the cause is clear to the sufferer. Anxiety can make a person imagine that things in their life are worse than they really are, and prevent them from confronting their fears. Often they will think they are going mad, or that some psychological imbalance is at the heart of their woes. What is important is the recognition that anxiety is normal and exists due to a set of bodily functions that have existed in us from our cave-man days.
I like to think of anxiety as a big field with a river running beside it. When life is good the river runs well and the field is nice and dry. Every so often the rain raises the water level and the field floods a bit. Due to the light flooding the flood defences manage to control the water and you can gradually rid the field of water. But every so often the flood defences give in and the field is overwhelmed and flooded with no end in sight to the end of the flooding. The only way to control the flooding and to make sure that the field stays dry is to build better flood defences. To improve flood defences you may do something positive to manage your anxiety, such as yoga, exercise, reading, listening to music or spending time with friends or family.
If you're stressed, whether by your job or by something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause. The most unhelpful thing you can do is turn to something unhealthy to help you cope, such as smoking or drinking.
"In life, there's always a solution to a problem," says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster. Professor Cooper goes on to say "Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse."He says the keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook.
Read Professor Coopers top 10 stress busting suggestions
Ways in which can relieve stress and anxiety?
Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques.
Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly then Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
Have a laugh. This goes a long way and will naturally raise your mood levels.
Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a GP or therapist, seek professional help.
Further treatment may be necessary for those suffering with Generalised Anxiety disorder (GAD) These include psychological therapy– such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and/or medication – such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
With treatment, many people are able to control their levels of anxiety. However, some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods where your symptoms worsen. Source NHS Inform.
Read more about treating GAD and self-help tips for GAD
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