Anxiety - A complete guide

by Clementine, 4th December 2020

What is it and how to reduce it?

 

Anxiety is a very natural part of life and it's a very common complaint that is a fear related issue. Before we can look at reducing the impact feelings of anxiety have on both our physical and mental health, it is important to understand what anxiety is and what causes anxiety disorders.

 

 

What is Anxiety? 

 

Anxiety is a very natural part of life and it's a very common complaint that is a fear related issue. The NHS describes anxiety as "a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe”. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life and is a normal part of our mental health. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about setting an exam or having a medical test or job interview...feeling anxious can be perfectly normal, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings or anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. 

 

What causes anxiety can vary from person to person. Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

 

Not in all cases but in many, when people say anxiety, they will usually mean Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is a long term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues rather than one specific event. Anxiety can develop slowly and its severity differs between individuals. Some have few mental and physical symptoms and others have more.

Anxiety is likely to be an element of essentially any problem that somebody brings to a hypnotherapy session. For example, those struggling to get on stage and speak publically or if they struggle to feel confident in themselves in a social situation, or if they're dealing with trauma, then anxiety will play a part. 

 

Generalised anxiety disorder means that it's no longer one specific thing that they are feeling anxious about, meaning that somebody could actually start out with a fear of spiders, for example, which is a specific phobia, and that could potentially become generalised anxiety disorder if not treated. The way this can happen is that the anxiety generalises out. An example of this could be that if someone is living with a fear of spiders, they may see one when they are out at the shops, scream and then feel embarrassed at their reaction and anxiety could then become attached to being in the shops. 

 

In this way, anxiety can feel contagious, meaning that it can spread and jump from one trigger to another. If you're struggling with GAD, it's when it's generalised so much, for some people it just kind of feels omnipresent, as though the anxiety is in the background all the time. Lots of people actually have it without realising they have just become so used to just feeling on edge a little bit all the time, that they identify with this way of being as who they are. It's only when it gets pretty bad that an individual might think of it as something they need to treat. 

 

 

What causes Anxiety? 

 

The feeling of nervousness or anxiety when you're about to do something scary is programmed into us as human beings. It is our fight and flight response that helps keep us safe – it’s when the mind recognises some potential danger. Sometimes it's right, for example, if a car was coming towards you, your body would react to pull you out of danger.

 

But sometimes it's wrong too, such as seeing a harmless mouse in your home. In either of those situations, however, the mind doesn't know that it's right or wrong. It just senses danger, and it goes into fight, flight, freeze mode, which means that your heart rate rises, your blood rushes to the extremities, and parts of your brain that are responsible for logical thinking and language shut down to help you get away from danger. 

 

When the fight or flight response works well, it kicks in until the danger is passed at which point you experience anxiety relief. You calm down and you go back into rest or digest mode, and your ability to think logically and digest the food and feel calm, go to sleep, or relax, comes back. 

One of the issues with people who have a generalised anxiety disorder is that their system is not going back to rest and digest, and they are therefore spending most of their time in fight or flight, which over time, can be very stressful and it can be detrimental to your health.

 

For different people, anxiety will mean different things and will show up in a variety of ways. Anxiety can be caused by very different things, anything from PTSD, where an anxiety disorder has come from a specific traumatising event, to generalised anxiety disorder, which is an experience of anxiety that seems always to be there. 

 

There are likely to be specific things that make people, as individuals, feel anxious. One person could feel anxious using a shirt with buttons, which is actually quite a common phobia, or another person could feel anxious around authority figures. For some, they may experience a consistent state of anxious thoughts and behaviours. 

 

 

Anxiety symptoms in women? Are they different to men?

 

No, there's no difference in anxiety between men and women. Anyone can experience anxiety, and any individual will suffer with different symptoms or anxiety, but this is not just a women's problem, it is something that affects all human beings in their own particular way. 

Symptoms of anxiety in women and men can look like the list below, but not everyone experiencing anxiety will have any or all of these. For some they may experience one from the list, others may experience all or have their own individual symptoms. The symptoms of anxiety can vary in their degree also, from mild, low level, to severe and extreme. Again, it's key to remember that we are all individuals and therefore there is no one way to "feel anxious,"

 

 

Common symptoms:

 

  • Feeling nervous
  • Restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate. 
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Sweating
  • Paresthesias (tingling) 
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating 
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than present worry
  • Insomnia & sleep troubles
  • Sleeping more often
  • Having the urge to avoid things that might cause anxiety 
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as IBS.  
  • Some more extreme symptoms of anxiety can also include:
  • Surge of overwhelming panic 
  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation
  • Hyperventilation

SOURCE: NHS

 

 

How to cope with anxiety 

 

How to treat anxiety or how to stop anxiety attacks might feel like a challenging task for many people with anxiety disorders. However, there are many coping strategies for how to deal with anxiety and ways you can overcome anxiety, that can help ease the feelings. But the good news is that there are also lots of resources to help you with anxiety relief and work towards overcoming anxiety and the issues that are causing you concern.  

 

If you feel as though anxiety is starting to have an impact on your daily life, it’s always important to consult your GP first, to explore the situation and seek advice. They may recommend a course of action to suit your circumstances. 

 

As always, each individual will respond differently to different tools for coping with anxiety, and depending on the causes behind the types of anxiety and anxious feelings, there are specialist treatments such as desensitising techniques for those suffering with PTSD. 

 

One of the best ways of coping with anxiety is to find the tools which suit you best. Within Clementine, we use a variety of tools which can be used to treat anxiety and help reduce the frequency of side effects such as panic attacks.

 

These include:

 

  • Build an understanding of how your brain works
  • Becoming more mindful to help increase awareness of your feelings so that you can begin to accept them and talk about them
  • Find out what your triggers are to help you prepare practically and psychologically 
  • Building a set of resources to reach for when you are feeling anxious 
  • Mentally rehearse situations to help you feel stronger and calmer
  • Train your body language to help improve your state of being
  • Train your thoughts to help you reconnect with resources that can help you to feel a more positive emotion
  • Train yourself to release and let go of thoughts that inspire anxiety before you spiral into fight or flight
  • Train yourself to become present
  • Become aware and take control of your self-talk 


 

Techniques to reduce anxiety 

 

There are a plethora of tools to help with anxiety including, NLP, hypnotherapy, breathing techniques, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), talking therapies and other therapeutic interventions can all help to beat anxiety. 

 

That’s why we started our Clementine Calm course, which shows you how to deal with anxiety and find that all-important anxiety relief. The course guides you through five days of sessions that utilise a range of tools to provide you with solid resources to help cope with anxiety, reduce anxiety and stop anxiety attacks.

 

We use relaxation and anchoring techniques to help create feelings of calm for the user and practise this to make it easier for them to access these feelings of calm when they need them. 

Within the course, we then look at the stories behind the anxiety and allow space and tools to become mindful of the negative narratives playing, which can bring about anxiety, and instead, think of better, more positive stories to tell. It’s all about talking yourself into situations where you feel better.

 

We also use sensory techniques to help bring you into the present moment and to help you recognise your individual triggers for anxiety, so that you can start to change the way your brain thinks about those situations. And lastly, we focus on a tailor-made gratitude process to help you grab onto moments in your day with mindfulness practice geared around feeling calmer. 

 

 

When does anxiety become an anxiety disorder?

 

Many of us experience anxiety at some point in our lives. Some of us experience mild anxiety on a regular basis and others might have isolated times when they feel anxious about things - triggers. There are specific factors, and conditions, for each particular anxiety disorder that will highlight when anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder. It really depends on you, your background, how you are managing your symptoms, and to what degree these behaviours are impacting your day-to-day life. Usually this assessment is made by either a GP, psychiatrist or other medically trained professional qualified to give an official diagnosis. 

 

Depending on the severity and the individual’s circumstances - some may feel able to overcome these independently with some support, and others may require more structured support and guidance. Ultimately, anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder depending on the nature of the symptoms, frequency of symptoms, and how these symptoms are impacting the individual on their day to day life.

 

 

Types of anxiety disorders

 

 

GENERALISED ANXIETY DISORDER (GAD) 

 

Someone with GAD is usually excessively anxious about a number of things. WIth this anxiety disorder, the anxiety felt often spreads to various aspects of the individual’s life. For some, they may feel anxious about a number of isolated scenarios or events, and for others, it may occur across most areas of their life. People with GAD often find it difficult to control the worry.  Sometimes this anxiety disorder can develop after a traumatic event, and other times, for no conscious reason. 

 

More often than not, there are a complex combination of causes, rather than being triggered by an imbalance of brain chemicals. Not having an awareness around what triggers the anxiety, can often amplify the feelings. People with GAD can find work and socialising challenging in different ways, which can often lead to avoidance. There are a number of supportive tools that can help someone with anxiety – hypnotherapy is one of these tools.

 

 

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD) 

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterised by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. Most people think of OCD as being about compulsive rituals, such as cleaning or checking locks. However, it can impact people in very different ways. It’s important to know that these obsessions take the form of repeated, unwanted, unpleasant and frightening thoughts. The reason people with this anxiety disorder carry out a compulsive behaviour is an attempt to try and stop that thing happening or prevent the thought from becoming true. 

 

OCD impacts people differently and usually they will go through four stages: 1) The obsession: the person with OCD becomes overwhelmed by a constant obsessive concern 2) The anxiety: the obsession causes over powering anxiety 3) The compulsion: the individual carries out compulsive behaviour and rituals to stop or reduce anxiety 3) Temporary relief: the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief from anxiety. However, the obsession will return and the person repeats the cycle.

 

 

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) 

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur around a month after someone witnesses or is involved in a traumatic, frightening or very stressful event. Although in some cases the response to the trauma can be delayed by months or years. Symptoms of this anxiety disorder vary between individuals and are often noticeable enough to have a significantly negative impact on the person’s life. PTSD can lead to depression, anxiety, the breakdown of relationships, work issues, and sometimes, phobias. Re-experiencing the event through nightmares and flashbacks, and also avoidance, can be common experiences.

 

 

SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER 

 

Social anxiety disorder is also known as a social phobia or the fear of being judged and criticised. People with this disorder experience overwhelming anxiety, fear,  humiliation and excessive self-consciousness when it comes to other people. These fears often lead people to avoid social situations. Many people with SAD worry about others noticing their anxiety, which may occur through blushing, even if the person doesn’t actual exhibit noticeable signs of redness. Often social anxieties might be a fear of performance such as in a work place but also in a social situation too. Fear of exposure to this feared situation may lead to some kind of panic attack.  Avoidance will often occur, which can interfere with the person's normal work, or social routine, and even their relationships.

 

 

PANIC DISORDER

 

Panic disorder is when someone experiences unexpected panic attacks on a semi-regular basis – anything between once or twice a month to several times a day. People with panic disorder are anxious about having additional panic attacks. They worry about the implications of the attack or its consequences. Similar to other anxiety disorders, the exact cause of panic disorders is not known. Some experts believe panic disorder is linked to an increased sensitivity to carbon dioxide - as breathing air with high carbon dioxide levels can bring on panic attacks, and which is why, breathing techniques can help to relieve or stop panic attacks. 

 

 

SEPARATION ANXIETY

 

Seperation anxiety can occur in both children and adults. With adults, seperation anxiety can cause unusual distress about being separated from a person or loved one and often a need to know where the other person is at all times. Sometimes it may involve excessive worry that another person will be harmed if they leave them alone yet there can also be a heightened fear of being alone. 

 

 

What can anxiety do to your mental health and body?

 

It’s important to seek advice from your GP if you believe you are experiencing a prolonged period of anxiety or if you feel you may have an anxiety disorder. If you do have anxiety, there may be some simple adjustments and ways you can manage and improve your symptoms. However, the long term effects of untreated anxiety, can have a negative impact to your mental health and body. If left unmanaged, it can lead to other health issues, both mental and physical conditions. For example, if left untreated, panic disorder can become a very debilitating and isolating illness. It can also increase your risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia, phobias and other health issues.

Source: NHS https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mental-health/panic-disorder#:~:text=Left%20untreated%2C%20panic%20disorder%20can,as%20agoraphobia%20or%20other%20phobias

keywords/topics to look at:

Anxiety disorders
Seperation anxiety - this usually occurs mostly with children, though it can occur in adults too. The key five anxiety disorders are included above but I have done a small paragraph on separation anxiety.
Type of anxiety
Health issues
Long term effects of anxiety

 

 

How to deal with anxiety

 

 

What is anxiety?

 

Anxiety is a very natural part of life and it's a very common complaint that is a fear related issue. The NHS describes anxiety as "a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear that can be mild or severe”. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about setting an exam or having a medical test or job interview...feeling anxious can be perfectly normal, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings or anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. 

 

What causes anxiety can vary from person to person. Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). 

 

Not in all cases but in many, when people say anxiety, they will usually mean Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is a long term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues rather than one specific event. Anxiety can develop slowly and its severity differs between individuals. Some have few symptoms and others have more.

 

Anxiety is likely to be an element of essentially any problem that somebody brings to a hypnotherapy session. For example, those struggling to get on stage and speak publically or if they struggle to feel confident in themselves in a social situation, or if they're dealing with trauma, then anxiety will play a part. 

 

Generalised anxiety disorder means that it's no longer one specific thing that they are feeling anxious about, meaning that somebody could actually start out with a fear of spiders, for example, which is a specific phobia, and that could potentially become generalised anxiety disorder if not treated. The way this can happen is that the anxiety generalises out. An example of this could be that if someone is living with a fear of spiders, they may see one when they are out at the shops, scream and then feel embarrassed at their reaction and anxiety could then become attached to being in the shops. 

 

In this way, anxiety can feel contagious, meaning that it can spread and jump from one trigger to another. If you're struggling with GAD, it's when it's generalised so much, for some people it just kind of feels omnipresent, as though the anxiety is in the background all the time. Lots of people actually have it without realising they have just become so used to just feeling on edge a little bit all the time, that they identify with this way of being as who they are. It's only when it gets pretty bad that an individual might think of it as something they need to treat. 

 

 

What causes Anxiety?

 

The feeling of nervousness or anxiety when you're about to do something scary is programmed into us as human beings. It is our fight and flight response that helps keep us safe – it’s when the mind recognises some potential danger. Sometimes it's right, for example, if a car was coming towards you, your body would react to pull you out of danger.

But sometimes it's wrong too, such as seeing a harmless mouse in your home. In either of those situations, however, the mind doesn't know that it's right or wrong. It just senses danger, and it goes into fight, flight, freeze mode, which means that your heart rate rises, your blood rushes to the extremities, and parts of your brain that are responsible for logical thinking and language shut down to help you get away from danger. 

 

When the fight or flight response works well, it kicks in until the danger is passed at which point you experience anxiety relief. You calm down and you go back into rest or digest mode, and your ability to think logically and digest the food and feel calm, go to sleep, or relax, comes back. 

 

One of the issues with people who have a generalised anxiety disorder is that their system is not going back to rest and digest, and they are therefore spending most of their time in fight or flight, which over time, can be very stressful and it can be detrimental to your health.

 

For different people, anxiety will mean different things and will show up in a variety of ways. Anxiety can be caused by very different things, anything from PTSD, where an anxiety disorder has come from a specific traumatising event, to generalised anxiety disorder, which is an experience of anxiety that seems always to be there. 

 

There are likely to be specific things that make people, as individuals, feel anxious. One person could feel anxious using a shirt with buttons, which is actually quite a common phobia, or another person could feel anxious around authority figures. For some, they may experience a consistent state of anxious thoughts and behaviours. 

 

 

Anxiety symptoms in women? Are they different to men?

 

No, there's no difference in anxiety between men and women. Anyone can experience anxiety, and any individual will suffer with different symptoms or anxiety, but this is not just a women's problem, it is something that affects all human beings in their own particular way. 

 

Symptoms of anxiety in women and men can look like the list below, but not everyone experiencing anxiety will have any or all of these. For some they may experience one from the list, others may experience all or have their own individual symptoms. The symptoms of anxiety can vary in their degree also, from mild, low level, to severe and extreme. Again, it's key to remember that we are all individuals and therefore there is no one way to "feel anxious," but here are some common symptoms:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Restless or tense
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate. 
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Sweating
  • Paresthesias (tingling) 
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating 
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than present worry
  • Insomnia & sleep troubles
  • Sleeping more often
  • Having the urge to avoid things that might cause anxiety 
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as IBS.  


 

Some more extreme symptoms of anxiety can also include:

 

  • Surge of overwhelming panic 
  • Feeling of losing control or going crazy
  • Heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Trouble breathing or choking sensation
  • Hyperventilation

 

SOURCE: NHS

 

 

How to cope with anxiety

 

How to deal with anxiety or how to stop anxiety attacks might feel like a challenging task for many. However, there are many coping strategies for how to deal with anxiety and ways you can overcome anxiety, that can help ease the feelings. But the good news is that there are also lots of resources to help you with anxiety relief and work towards overcoming anxiety and the issues that are causing you concern.  

 

If you feel as though anxiety is starting to have an impact on your daily life, it’s always important to consult your GP first, to explore the situation and seek advice. They may recommend a course of action to suit your circumstances. 

 

As always, each individual will respond differently to different tools for coping with anxiety, and depending on the causes behind the types of anxiety and anxious feelings, there are specialist treatments such as desensitising techniques for those suffering with PTSD. 

 

One of the best ways of coping with anxiety is to find the tools which suit you best. Within Clementine, we use a variety of tools which can include things such as:

 

  • Build an understanding of how your brain works
  • Becoming more mindful to help increase awareness of your feelings so that you can begin to accept them and talk about them
  • Find out what your triggers are to help you prepare practically and psychologically 
  • Building a set of resources to reach for when you are feeling anxious 
  • Mentally rehearse situations to help you feel stronger and calmer
  • Train your body language to help improve your state of being
  • Train your thoughts to help you reconnect with resources that can help you to feel a more positive emotion
  • Train yourself to release and let go of thoughts that inspire anxiety before you spiral into fight or flight
  • Train yourself to become present
  • Become aware and take control of your self-talk 


 

Techniques to reduce anxiety

 

There are a plethora of tools to help with anxiety including, NLP, hypnotherapy, breathing techniques, CBT, talking therapies and other therapeutic interventions can all help to beat anxiety. 

 

That’s why we started our Clementine Calm course, which shows you how to deal with anxiety and find that all-important anxiety relief. The course guides you through five days of sessions that utilise a range of tools to provide you with solid resources to help cope with anxiety, reduce anxiety and stop anxiety attacks.

 

We use relaxation and anchoring techniques to help create feelings of calm for the user and practise this to make it easier for them to access these feelings of calm when they need them. 

 

Within the course, we then look at the stories behind the anxiety and allow space and tools to become mindful of the negative narratives playing, which can bring about anxiety, and instead, think of better, more positive stories to tell. It’s all about talking yourself into situations where you feel better.

 

We also use sensory techniques to help bring you into the present moment and to help you recognise your individual triggers for anxiety, so that you can start to change the way your brain thinks about those situations. And lastly, we focus on a tailor-made gratitude process to help you grab onto moments in your day with mindfulness practise geared around feeling calmer. 

 

 

How can clementine help reduce anxiety?

 

We've created lots of resources to help with anxiety. Our sleep sessions are not just sleep sessions. Not only do they help relax you for a deeper sleep, they will also help you combat anxiety. Combining the two works incredibly well as the process of going to sleep provides a great space of time to spend listening to something that can help you. It doesn't require any extra time out of your day plus the more you listen to it, the better you get at learning the skills it teaches in helping combat anxiety.

 

We also have our Pick Me Up sessions, which can be used in the moment when you need some help in becoming calm, plus our Calm course, which uses a greater range of hypnotherapy techniques to help you build awareness around your anxieties and then provides multiple tools to help work your way through the things that are causing anxiety. 

phonesubscribe

Want loads of useful tips and tricks for bossing life?

Join our newsletter and get loads of great stuff straight in your inbox!

We respect your privacy and you’ll
only hear from us every 2 weeks.

Fab, you’re signed up!

Our newsletter will wing it’s way to you every other Sunday, bright and early so you can have a read in bed and start the week with a bang.

Sorry, An error ocurred:

This site uses cookies that store non-personal information to provide services to you and to help us improve our site.