Dealing-with-stress-2

5 Ways To Manage Anxiety

Many people experience periods of anxiety when they are under stress, or going through major changes, such as moving home or jobs. For the majority of us, anxiety plays out by worrying about what may or may not happen, feeling tense, irritable and reactive. It can cause you to feel tired and have difficulty relaxing and/or sleeping as you struggle to deal with challenging life experiences.

Many people find that these symptoms of anxiety are transient and disappear after a few days or weeks as worries subside, and life gets back to relative normality. The old adage applies here: ‘A problem solved is a problem halved’.

However, for others these symptoms of anxiety do not disappear after the stressful event has passed. They may continue to feel anxious and worried, sometimes without any specific event triggering the feelings.

If these worries, fears about the future, and physical symptoms, such as fast heart rate and sweating, become severe enough to interfere with your ability to cope with daily life, you may be suffering from anxiety. For whatever level of anxiety you may suffer, it is possible to manage the symptoms. Here are some techniques that can help:

Understand the nature of anxiety

We all experience anxiety; it is a natural human state and a vital part of our lives. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in either ‘fight or flight’ mode. It can also motivate us to deal with difficult challenges.

However, there is another side to anxiety, a side which, if not addressed, can cause significant emotional distress and unmanageability. An anxiety disorder can lead to a number of health risks and it’s important to understand its nature in terms of severity, triggers and behaviour. Anxiety can be exhibited through a variety of behaviours including panic attacks, phobias and obsessional behaviours. Anxiety at this level can have a truly debilitating impact.

Gain awareness of underlying factors of anxiety

Some life experiences that are stressful or traumatic, such as family break-ups, ongoing bullying or conflict at home, school or work, abuse, or traumatic events, such as car accidents, can make people more susceptible to anxiety. These extra stress factors may be more than a person’s normal coping mechanisms can deal with comfortably, and may leave them vulnerable to experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours, may be triggered by a range of specific external or internal stimuli. These could include traumatic memories, specific objects, particular situations, physical locations, or a persistent general worry that something bad will happen in the future.

If the anxiety is triggering to the point of a panic attack, part of the process of understanding our anxiety involves being curious about our developmental history, and also learning to regulate our physical state.

Set healthy limits for communicating and developing relationships

The lives of those with the most severe forms of anxiety can become completely dominated by their condition, and often their anxiety can impair their ability to sustain healthy personal relationships. People with anxiety may start withdrawing, they may stop attending social functions, they may become snappy, irritable and irrational, or they may worry unnecessarily that something negative is going to happen.

The first step is to start to identify our ‘reality’, in particular some of our thoughts and feelings. This can be very difficult when anxiety has been present for a while as we generally feel overwhelmed by our emotions. Identifying them can be hard. However, being able to share in our relationship that we are dealing with anxiety and having an ally you trust can be very helpful.

Learn relaxation techniques to calm your stressed nervous system

Anxiety and depression are among the most common conditions cited by those seeking treatment with complementary and alternative therapies, such as exercise, meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Several studies have demonstrated therapeutic effectiveness superior to no-activity controls and comparable with established depression and anxiety treatments.

Use distress tolerance and mindfulness skills

Mindfulness focuses on changing the relationship between the anxious person and their thoughts, rather than changing the thoughts themselves. We become a witness to our process, we become aware.

Meditation can help people break out of the ‘automatic pilot mode’ that leads to negative ways of thinking and responding. Carl Jung stated that unless we make “the unconscious, conscious, it will direct our life, and we call it fate.” With the help of therapy, we can interrupt this unconsciousness, truly becoming aware of the way our environment triggers our physiology, and thoughts and the emotional states it then triggers.

Anxiety can be debilitating condition and can impact many facets of your life. Whether it’s brought on by stressful situations or you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety, the effects of anxiety can be managed. The first step of acknowledging there may be a problem is often the darkness before the dawn.

By Steve Stokes, Program Manager at South Pacific Private, Australia’s leading mental health and addiction treatment facility offering inpatient and day programs to treat anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioural addictions, alcohol addiction and substance abuse. 

June 25, 2015

Benefits Of Foot Reflexology

Did you know that certain reflexes found in the foot can help to stabilise the entire body?

Used for centuries all over the world, foot reflexology is a popular way to de-stress and improve circulation. Whether you are suffering from a nasty headache, experiencing monthly back pain, or simply in need of a de-stressing exercise, here are a few ways foot reflexology can help you out.

RELATED: The Guide To Acupressure For Stress Relief

How does it work?

Most therapists focus on stimulating the solar plexus which stores all of our excess stress. Once this sacred area is relaxed, then the entire body enters a serene state which seeks to eliminate all forms for stress.

When pressure is applied onto certain areas of the foot such as the heels are lower arch, this has a significant effect on the solar plexus. You will start to notice that stress levels have decreased, and your heart rate is beating a slower, more consistent level.

Circulation

As with all massage techniques, applying a certain amount of pressure onto one area of the body can help to improve bad circulation. This will help to clear the path inside the blood stream, and will better support the proper function of healthy tissues and organs. Massaging the feet holds great health benefits since there are so many nerves linked into this central location.

Pain management

Did you know that applying more pressure to the feet can decrease the amount of pain the rest of your body can feel? A rush of endorphins are released which help to minimise pain signals to the brain, and as a result, brings about a relaxing sensation. Next time you are experiencing a bad cramp or stomach ache, try massaging the area just below the arch of your feet to relax the entire body.

Techniques

If you want to try a few of these stress relieving techniques at home, start with these simple exercises which will surely make you feel better:

Thumb walking

A popular technique which helps to a tense feeling in the entire body. Use both hands to relax the foot, and then simply rub your thumb down the inside of both feet. This should take place from the tip of the big toe, down the length of your foot until you hit the heel.

Stroke

To improve your overall circulation, stroke the bottom of your foot with each thumb. This should be a short, fluid action which firmly applies pressure on the base of your foot. Once you reach the toes, apply less pressure since the tendons around this area are more sensitive.

Tips

Before embarking on your own foot reflexology, make sure to review some of our beginners tips which will help make the process so much more effective.

  • Drink as much water as you can before and after each massage. This will help to remove any nasties from your system, and can improve circulation.
  • Use a light oil to make the massage feel better. Never massage dry feet since the exercises won’t feel as effective, and it will only make your feet feel dry! Coconut oil is a great choice since it’s inexpensive, and melts quickly between your fingers.
  • Start off slow by massaging the top and base of your feet. Don’t apply too much pressure to areas which you’re unsure about. Even just massaging your toes, heels, and arch are enough to relax your entire body.

Image via Acupressure

February 9, 2015

4 Ways to Keep Calm and Stress Less this Silly Season

Beyond the wonderful traditions of ham and family time, Christmas can also be an incredibly stressful period; over-spending, visiting relatives you haven’t seen all year and sheer panic can be as common as Christmas pudding. So rather than giving yourself a beautifully wrapped freak-out this year, here are some essential tips to help you keep your cool over the silly season.

Get a list
Come Christmas, I often end up with lists of lists, and although pedantic it’s certainly helpful. Keeping a checklist of everything that needs to be done can immensely help to calm a mind chaotic with things to do. Taking note of anything along the lines of gifts, cooking, and commitments can help keep you calm and on-track.

Start early
Getting on top of what needs to be done, even before the silly season starts, helps to avoid playing catch-up later. Getting Christmas cleaning, cards and the odd gift early means there’s less of the last-minute panic that results in your sister getting gifts from a petrol station. Covering things like Secret Santa presents or stocking up on wrapping paper and sticky tape can save you from a last-minute panic. I find it easiest to have a spot designated to ribbon, wrapping paper and cards as well as a few handy boxes of chocolates so even if you’re caught short, there’s something on hand to save on stress.

Share the load
With Nigella and the Great British Bakeoff making it look so simple, it’s easy to think we can all hand-weave baskets for our freshly-baked shortbread. In reality, between work, Christmas parties and having a life it’s super unlikely that this will happen. So rather than stressing yourself out trying to be the organic version of Delia Smith, maybe just crack on with what needs to be done without the frantic ‘flourishes’ that can so often turn Christmas into a crafty nightmare.

Even better, rope in friends and family to help out. Having people pitch in with the cooking or gift buying can remove a whole lot of angst. So share the load; after all, part of Christmas is bringing people together, and if that means handballing this year’s pudding purchases – so be it.

Accept that nothing is perfect
Yes, Aunt Dora might sit in silent fury over the way Aunt Nora eats her peas or your mother-in-law might get roaring drunk and fall asleep in the gravy, but there are always things that cannot be controlled. Rather than getting wound up, recognising that things will not always run smoothly (and sometimes go completely off the rails) is part and parcel of the holiday experience. The more you let go of the anxiety to make things perfect, the more likely they’ll go smoothly. So relax, enjoy the few days off to spend with people you care about, and eat something delicious. It’s Christmas after all.

Kate H Jones is a lifestyle and pop culture writer at Clavicle Capitalism.

December 13, 2013