How to chose an anxiety management tool?
You might read articles about anxiety and how to manage? I hope you read Clinical Psychologists (Dr) and Psychotherapist’s (Dr and other qualifications) entries as these guys are the specialists. GP’s can sometimes miss the small cues in a 10 minute appointment, which is why referrals to mental health services are important. GP’s know the basics and the key management strategies, but not all GP’s take mental health as seriously as others.
So you may be familiar with some advice, you may be completely unaware. My goal here is to suggest ways that you can try to manage your anxiety. Just because one tool or resource does not work, does not mean nothing will work. Anxiety is very individual to the person. Although there are broad categories in terms of what ‘type’ of anxiety you might experience (generalised anxiety, OCD, panic disorder), the drives and the thinking patterns that you have built over years are unique to you.
Your management strategies are unique to you. Pick, try, have a look, explore. Find what works for you.
Pick and mix options – try them all
Mindfulness – https://powex.co.uk/mindfulness-introduction/ and https://powex.co.uk/how-to-be-mindful give you more detail. Mindfulness takes practice. Some people find sitting still and focussing on ‘here and now thoughts’ incredibly distressing. If this is you…
Distraction – if you are caught up in anxious thoughts, distract yourself. Anxiety can lead to incredibly visceral feelings in your body that you don’t want, so try to distract from them – physically engage with your body, pick a room in the house to clean, organise your photos, sort out your kitchen cupboard. Pick up the phone to talk to someone!
Change your surroundings – Go for a walk, go to your garden, balcony. Change your set up. Look at greenery.
Opposite action – This is a DBT tool and is a great way to identify your physical feelings. If you are feeling anxious, your body may feel tight, heart racing, sweaty palms, short breathing. Do the opposite. Lie down on the floor, take deep breaths. Sit on a comfortable chair, roll your shoulders back and down, sit up straight. Do 20 star jumps, release the energy that is locked in tight.
Breathing – There are lots of breathing techniques that can help your autonomic nervous system get back in check.
- Square/Box breathing: Breath in – for a count of 4. Hold your breath – count to 4. Release the breath – count to 4. Hold your breath (empty lungs) – count to 4.
- Yoga breath – Sit, legs crossed, one hand on heart, one hand on stomach. Inhale deeply – let your ribs move apart and stomach expand and let it relax. Exhale deeply – pull your core muscles, lift pelvic floor, feel the ribs pull in together. Breathe your own slow breath, connecting to your body moving while you breath.
- 4-7-8 Breathing. Inhale through your nose – count to 4. Hold breath for count of 7. Exhale air for count of 8.
All of the above, you can repeat for a few rounds or for a few minutes. You could do this sitting or lying down.
Acknowledge it – Write down in a specific book/diary for you your thoughts and the situation you are in. Document what might have triggered the anxiety situation. If you do not know what triggered the situation, write down the thoughts.
Grounding box – Get a Tupperware box filled with comforting smells, textures, pictures. Whatever works for you. It could be a washing powder tablet, a childhood teddy, a crayon, a shell, a picture of a happ
y time. It doesn’t matter what it is, but a selection of some items that take you to a place that does not feel anxious and enables your brain to focus on the picture or the smell.
Where to get help?
If you feel like things have got too much and anxious thoughts turn into something much more difficult, call:
- Your GP or go to A&E. Don’t wait. Find someone to support you with this if you can.
- Call https://www.samaritans.org 116 123 (UK).
- Text https://giveusashout.org 85258 (UK)
- Take a look at – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
Why call for help?
I have worked with people in significant mental health crisis and difficulty for over 15 years. Although opening up difficult thoughts and feelings can make people feel uneasy, out of control and sometimes more risky, I have never found that talking has made things worse.
If things have become worse through talking to a health professional, then maybe you need more help than you realise and you are in the right place for someone to help you in the right way. Collapsing and feeling like you are melting is not uncommon when unpacking thoughts and feelings. People who work in mental health are (mostly) trained to understand how to manage difficult thoughts and feelings and not leave you feeling unable to manage at the end of a conversation or session.
Anxiety and Depression –
I always describe anxiety and depression as a see-saw. If your anxiety right now is feeling most intense, you need to find management strategies for that. But, I am very aware that if you manage the anxiety, low mood may trump the anxiety next. You can still find management strategies for depression (https://powex.co.uk/managing-depression).
Please be assured – YOU ARE NOT ALONE WITH THIS EXPERIENCE. This is incredibly common. More so now. Lockdowns, no support networks, isolation. Reach out for help. Bottling thoughts and feelings will never just go away. Talking them through and processing them will help you manage them better.
Medication, may be the pathway for you right now. Your GP can help with this, but you should not be taking antidepressants without a talking therapy.
Nice guidelines (that all medical bodies should follow – highlight what you should expect for treatment from a GP or psychiatrist. https://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/depression/antidepressant-treatment-in-adults#path=view%3A/pathways/depression/step-2-recognised-depression-in-adults-persistent-subthreshold-depressive-symptoms-or-mild-to-moderate-depression.xml&content=view-index