When does anxiety become a problem?

It is natural to feel anxious about certain events an exam, a new job, public speaking, going to the dentist and meeting new people. Anxiety can also be expressed as the flight or flight syndrome a natural defensive response to danger which kicks in when we are threatened. Think of what our ancestors went through when a fierce sabre toothed tiger was breathing down their neck.caveman-being-scared-by-a-sabre-tooth

Anxiety becomes a big problem for us when it stops us functioning on a daily basis and the anxiety overwhelms us to the point where we almost become anxiety. Our breathing quickens, our heart races and we can feel paralysed or panicked to the point of desperation.

So what can you do if anxiety is getting the better of you? Of course there is a wealth of strategies to address this, the big one though is to manage our breathing which slows down and calms all the other responses. I find the following works really well with my clients breathe in deeply for three through the nose and out for three saying calm on the outbreath. Do it at least 3 times and do it everytime you feel anxious. If you watch contestants on the Voice you will see them actively doing some breathing as they are calming their anxiety down in preparation for their performance.

Another tip is this do not describe yourself as anxious person you are a person who experiences anxiety sometimes. My last tip is this your thoughts are just that thoughts and they won’t kill you . Imagine them like leaves from a tree constantly falling and then falling into a stream and floating down the stream. Notice them and let them go down the stream.

Here is the Leaves on A Stream Exercise For You to Use

Leaves on a stream exercise

Imagine you are viewing your thoughts like leaves floating down a stream. As the stream floats lazily and leisurely towards the distance, imagine a vantage point that will just let you observe. Notice that as the leaves fall into the stream and land on the water, they are carried down the stream by the current. New winds cause new leaves to fall. As they fall watch them as they float down the stream.
Your thoughts are a lot like leaves that fall into a stream. Especially during autumn, there seems to be an endless supply of leaves. However leaves float and move on. Imagine your thoughts like this. Each new thought is a new leaf entering the stream of thought. Follow that thought as it floats through the mind and then notice the next thought. Notice each thing you are thinking as it comes, without becoming enmeshed in it or following a made up line of thinking, return your mind to that thought. It is after all only a thought. Simply follow it and observe thoughts, rather than analysing or speculating


Cathy B 19 June

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