Managing Worry, Anxiety or Stress

Worry, Anxiety Or Stress

Anxiety, worry or stress can affect both your physical health and your mental health (behaviour and feelings), and affect a person’s ability to work, study and participate in social activities.

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Some common ways that anxiety might affect your mental health (behaviour and feelings) include:

  • irritability or constantly being in a bad mood
  • worried or a constant feeling that something bad is about to happen
  • often ask many unnecessary questions and require constant reassurance
  • being a perfectionist, taking a long time to complete homework because you try to have it absolutely correct
  • being argumentative (but not usually aggressive), especially when trying to avoid a feared situation
  • being pessimistic and easily able to identify what may go wrong in any given situation
  • not answering questions and rarely volunteering comments or information at school or uni

Some common ways that anxiety might affect your physical health include:

  • irritability or constantly being in a bad mood
  • worried or a constant feeling that something bad is about to happen
  • often ask many unnecessary questions and require constant reassurance
  • being a perfectionist, taking a long time to complete homework because you try to have it absolutely correct
  • being argumentative (but not usually aggressive), especially when trying to avoid a feared situation
  • being pessimistic and easily able to identify what may go wrong in any given situation
  • not answering questions and rarely volunteering comments or information at school or uni

At My Brain Map™ we can help provide the opportunity to:

Explore the underlying causes

of anxiety and stress

Examine the thoughts and feelings and behaviours

that contribute to high stress levels

Gain insight and self-understanding

around triggers of worry and stress

Tailor made coping strategies and techniques

for long term use

Please see our therapy support page to learn more about our process and therapy outcomes.

Some helpful tips to manage worry/stress/anxiety

 

includes learning about anxiety, relaxation techniques, correct breathing techniques, exercise, learning to be assertive, building self-esteem, cognitive therapy.

Learning about anxiety

The old adage ‘knowledge is power’ applies here – learning all about stress, worry and anxiety is central to recovery. For example, education includes examining the physiology of the ‘flight-fight’ response, which is the body’s way to deal with impending danger. For people with excessive worry this response is inappropriately triggered by situations that are generally harmless. Education is an important way to promote control over symptoms.

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Relaxation techniques

A person who feels anxious/stressed/worried most of the time has trouble relaxing, but knowing how to release muscle tension is an important anxiety treatment.

 

The physical symptoms of anxiety/worry may be triggered by hyperventilation, which raises oxygen levels and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. A person who suffers from anxiety should learn how to breathe from their diaphragm, rather than their chest, to safeguard against hyperventilation. The key is allowing your belly to expand as you breathe in.

 

You can make sure you are breathing correctly by placing one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest. Correct breathing means your abdomen moves, rather than your chest. It also helps to slow your breathing while feeling anxious. You can also try to hold your breath for a few seconds. This helps to boost carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

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Cognitive therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on changing patterns of thinking and beliefs that are associated with, and trigger, anxiety. For example, a person with a social phobia may make their anxiety worse by negative thoughts such as, ‘Everyone thinks I’m boring’.

 

The basis of cognitive therapy is that beliefs trigger thoughts, which then trigger feelings and produce behaviours. For example, let’s say you believe (perhaps unconsciously) that you must be liked by everyone in order to feel worthwhile. If someone turns away from you in mid-conversation, you may think, ‘This person hates me’, which makes you feel anxious.

 

Cognitive therapy strategies include rational ‘self-talk’, reality testing, attention training, cognitive challenging and cognitive restructuring. This includes monitoring your self-talk, challenging unhelpful fears and beliefs, and testing out the reality of negative thoughts.

Exercise

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by the ‘flight-fight’ response, which floods the body with adrenaline and other stress chemicals. Exercise burns up stress chemicals and promotes relaxation. Physical activity is another helpful way to manage anxiety. Aim to do some physical activity at least three to four times every week, and vary your activities to avoid boredom.

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Learning to be assertive

Being assertive means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner without intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings. A person with an anxiety disorder may have trouble being assertive because they are afraid of conflict or believe they have no right to speak up. However, relating passively to others lowers self-confidence and reinforces anxiety. Learning to behave assertively is central to developing a stronger self-esteem.

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Building self-esteem

People with anxiety disorder often have low self-esteem. Feeling worthless can make the anxiety worse in many ways. It can trigger a passive style of interacting with others and foster a fear of being judged harshly. Low self-esteem may also be related to the impact of the anxiety disorder on your life. These problems may include:

  • Isolation
  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulties in functioning at school, work or in social situations.

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