You are not alone…an incredible almost one in five people feel anxious all of the time or a lot of the time with just under half believing that anxiety has stopped them from doing things in their life. (YouGov Survey 2014)
Anxiety is normal and affects nearly all of us, it can last for a short time and then pass. The problem comes when we get stuck with anxiety or panic attacks affecting our relationships, work, sleep, concentration, enjoyment of life and our health. We can be held back from doing things we need or want to do and feel that we have no choice.
One of the big difficulties with anxiety is that it seems to make sense to try to oppose, escape or distract from the anxiety. But research shows that trying to avoid anxiety, although it will perhaps give relief in the short term, will often increase the intensity overall. This is why people say ‘the harder I try, the worse it gets’.
The good news is that you can use a variety of techniques to gradually desensitise your anxiety response and increase your tolerance. By practising with (not against) the symptoms, you become less sensitive to them. Gradually you lose your fear of the symptoms and of anxiety and rebuild confidence. It’s good to begin at the bottom of the scale of anxiety, choosing challenges which although they cause a certain amount of fear, don’t overwhelm you. By building on smaller successes it is possible to gradually and naturally reduce the fear levels and then take on things that would have caused more fear a little while ago.
There are many interlinking factors that affect anxiety levels. “The truth is that anxiety is at once a function of biology and philosophy, body and mind, instinct and reason, personality and culture.” Scott Stossell ‘My Age of Anxiety’. So it helps to get to know more about your anxiety, learn a bit about your mind and body so that you can begin to understand what helps and why.