Often when we think of those suffering with anxiety we have images of panic attacks, people not being able to sit still or be calm, with heart palpitations and shortness of breath.  What I've described here is a full blown panic attack.  But many people are suffering from daily anxiety that doesn't present these symptoms but is still inhibiting their lives.  

What is anxiety?
Anxiety is fear caused by a sense of doubt and vulnerability about future events.  The focus of anxious people tends to be always on what's lies ahead and the prospect that it could be bad.  The phrase “what if” is a common phrase triggered by anxiety.  What if I fail my exams, what if I don't get the interview, what if I can't become pregnant, what if I can't pay my mortgage,  what if I never meet anyone?  We can torture ourselves with what ifs and often we get into a pattern of thinking that spirals us into negative thoughts and anxiety.  There are times however when the what ifs are necessary in order to prepare and plan.  The leaving cert students who collected their results this week would have had to ask themselves what if I don't get enough points for the course I want.  Often it is important to ask the what ifs in order to have a strategy or plan B in place.  But most of the time the what ifs won't require a plan B until they actually haven't happened.

Is anxiety the same as depression?
This is a question I often get asked.  And while they may be closely linked depression and anxiety are quite different states.  In today's world, no one is immune from the ill effects of stress, whether it manifests in anxiety, depression or physical illness.  A person whose primary issue is depression doesn't tend to be preoccupied with worrying about what might happen to them in their future.  They tend to harbour very definite negative thoughts about their future whereas someone who is anxious tends to experience uncertainty about future events which can be more debilitating in itself as uncertainty can be often more difficult to process than certainty.   

Action kills Fear
Three simple words and a valuable mantra for anyone who struggles with anxiety.  Fear can freeze you but sitting around indulging anxious thoughts will just foster more anxiety.  When you feel anxious do something, go for a walk, arrange to meet a friend, change your environment.  Anxiety is a form of fear and the best way to alleviate this fear is to take action.  Most counsellors and psychotherapists today offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as part of their therapies.  Known as CBT cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be a very effective treatment for anxiety.  Anxiety therapy unlike anxiety medication treats more than just the symptoms of the problem.  It can help you uncover the causes of your worries and fears and develop better coping skills for the future.  

The importance of exercise and diet
The exercise you do and the food that you eat play a vital role in your positive mental health. The “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind” expression has firm foundations. Exercise releases natural feel good hormones into your body and boosts your natural energy supplies.  Also the foods you put into your body have an effect on your overall well being.  Superfoods are not called that for no reason.  It is because they play a vital role in not only giving your body the nutrition it needs but in aiding your digestion and in turn improving your energy levels and your overall health.  Caffeine and Sugar are the opposite to superfoods so should be limited as much as possible.  

And remember you can't change certain things but you can always change the way you think about them.

If you have found this article helpful and feel you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions you can contact me in confidences on 087-1046880 or email ehanlonpsychotherapy@gmail.com

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