Anxiety

Anxiety is different from fear.

Fear is generally about something outside of oneself that can be clearly identified whether  situational or a concrete object. When you are anxious you can’t specify what you are anxious about – and the focus is more internal than external.

Anxiety comes in different forms and levels of intensity

It can range from a slight twinge of uneasiness to a full-blown panic attack. A degree of anxiety is appropriate and to be expected as part of a normal response to the challenges of modern lifestyles – such as some anxiety before an exam or a job interview.

Anxiety disorders are distinguished from normal anxiety because they involve anxiety that is 1) more intense, 2) lasts longer (persisting well after the stressful situation has passed), and 3) leads to avoidance of situations or objects that interfere with your life.

A programme for managing anxiety might include physical, behavioural, emotional and mental interventions.

Physical:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Regular practice of deep relaxation
  • Regular aerobic exercise
  • Elimination of caffeine
  • Nutritional improvements, including Low GI diet and vitamin supplements
  • Behvarioural: Coping techniques to abort panic reactions at their onset – such as abdominal breathing and distraction techniques

Emotional:

  • Identifying some panic reactions   as anger in disguise
  • Learning to express these feelings more constructively

Mental:

  • Learning to use calming self-talk
  • Practicing coping affirmations
  • Recognising and re-evaluating faulty beliefs  and adopting a more easy-going view of life

Adapted from:

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Edmund J. Bourne, 1990, New Harbinger Publications

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