Anxiety is a normal but sometimes unpleasant part of life. We need to be concerned or alerted when there is real or imminent danger but when our imagination is overactive with negative thoughts and feelings, anxiety can persist as a background state which limits our energy and potential to enjoy life.
One vital thing to realise, about anxiety, is that it has existed as a physical and psychological state since our cave-man ancestors. As a survival mechanism, our “fight or flight” response, which activates below the level of conscious thought, enabled our ancestors to overcome or escape very real dangers. However, in today’s world, full of mainly psychological rather than physical stressors, this mechanism can be often wrongly and inappropriately activated in everyday situations when stress has built up throughout the day. Some major stressors such as divorce, moving house, undergoing surgery or the loss of a loved one may also create higher levels of anxiety than seem bearable.
Anxiety can also become a habitual way of being which may have been triggered by major life events in the past which have either traumatised us or led us to develop a negative view of ourselves or the world around us.
Symptoms of anxiety
People often experience physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious or stressed.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety are:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased muscle tension
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Hyperventilation (over breathing)
- Difficulty in breathing
- Wanting to use the toilet more often
- Feeling sick
- Tight band across the chest area
- Tension headaches
- Hot flushes
- Increased perspiration
- Dry mouth
- Choking sensations
Some of the most common psychological symptoms (the thoughts or altered perceptions we have) of anxiety are:
- Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
- Thinking that you might die
- Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
- Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
- Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
- Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
- Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
- Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you (1)
N.B. If you have any of these symptoms it is advisable to rule out any physical cause which could be creating them, so do consult your G.P.
Daily Management of Anxiety
If you’re experiencing heightened levels of anxiety, unfortunately you’re not alone. According to the UK Office of National Statistics, 1 in 6 adults suffer from such difficulties.
Managing anxiety in an imperfect and often stressful world is possible with
- improved diet – many foods such as caffeine, sugar or alcohol can stress the body which could trigger an episode of anxiety
- increasing physical activity
- meditating to calm the mind and body
- or simple positive activities such as reading or spending time with a good friend
I can advise on and support these positive lifestyle changes within the sessions both through discussion and hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy for Anxiety
Research has shown a considerable amount of positive results for hypnotherapy and a variety of anxiety disorders and situations including medical procedures (2), test anxiety (3) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (4).