please send help.
Anxiety seems to be the mental illness that I hear most people confuse with a normal bodily function (worry). Being worried about stuff is 100% NORMAL (I checked with the counselling team at Aston, and I have a Psych degree, so there’s your receipts). However, most of us can control those worries. People with anxiety struggle to control these worries, and that can manifest as: concern, apprehension, unease, fearfulness, fretfulness, agitation, angst, nervousness, edginess, tension, tenseness and stress.
This article isn’t designed to diagnose you – so if you are struggling, please reach out to the counselling team at email@example.com.
Now here comes the science-y bit. When we have anxiety, it creates a physiological response in the body which used to help our ancestors run away from bears. This response literally prepares your body for fight or flight, and sends blood to your muscles and away from your stomach and digestive system. This can lead to a bunch of stuff - panic, irritability, upset stomach, sleep problems, not being able to stay calm and still, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, pounding heart, dry mouth and nausea, and more. Understandably, this kind of physiological response can really mess with your quality of life. How am I meant to give a presentation to 30 people when my body thinks those 30 people are BEARS?
So, let’s work through the counselling teams top-tips on how to fight the metaphorical bear together.
Firstly, you can learn to prevent the physiological response to anxiety. This is all managed through rationalization – aka, what COULD happen vs. What WILL happen? By nipping the worst-case scenario thoughts in the bud, we can worry less and keep those bears at bay.
You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
What is something you are worried about?
Whenever you start to worry, answer these questions:
What are some clues that your worry will not come true?
If your worry does not come true, what will probably happen instead?
If your worry does come true, how will you handle it? Will you eventually be okay?
After answering these questions, how has your worry changed?
Another way to beat the bear is to be more mindful. A lot of anxiety triggers can come from ruminating on the past. Actively shifting your thoughts to be in the present (and not thinking about potentially worrying things) is an act of mindfulness. Mindfulness requires being present and helps us to stay in control if we are feeling overwhelmed.
So how the heck do I do mindfulness? I hear you ask. Well, click on the helpful link below and you will find a guided meditation! Be patient with it, it takes a little getting used to. Like other muscles, our brain has to be taught to be mindful and it gets stronger each time we try it.
Mindfulness top tips from the counselling team:
Try to practice 15-30 minutes a day – but any practice is better than none!
Silence your phone, and set a timer for the length of time you want to be mindful for.
Pay attention to your posture:
- Sit in a chair, or on the floor with a cushion for support.
- Straighten your back, but not to the point of stiffness.
- Let your chin drop slightly, and gaze downward at a point in front of you.
- If in a chair, place the soles of your feet on the ground. If on the floor, cross your legs.
- Let your arms fall naturally to your sides, with your palms resting on your thighs.
- If your pose becomes too uncomfortable, feel free to take a break or adjust.
If your thoughts wander - don’t struggle against them. Acknowledge them and turn your attention back to breathing (expect to do this a few times!)
I hope you manage to keep that bear at bay – and don’t forget to reach out for help if you need it (firstname.lastname@example.org).