The word anxiety is used to describe the physical and emotional experience often related to the emotion of fear. It is an uncomfortable experience, which often leaves us restless, worried and agitated. Anxiety counselling is the seeking of support from a professionally trained practitioner.
Stress is when we have too many demands on us with insufficient resources to cope. When the demand or stressors are no longer there the experience of stress tends to go. I once remember a client saying, when they became stressed this also opened a window to anxiety for them.
Anxiety can cause us to perceive things are worse than they are, we can catastrophize. Self-confidence finds it difficult to exist in anxiety / fear so can be depleted. The greater our anxiety the lower our self-confidence becomes.
If you experience anxiety, you may recognise some of the physical and psychological sensations in the tables below. The experience of anxiety will feel different for different people.
Physical symptoms of anxiety
• Nausea (feeling sick)
• Muscle tension and headaches
• Feeling light headed or dizzy
• Faster breathing
• Sweating or hot flushes
• Fast, thumping or irregular heart beat
• Increased blood pressure
• Difficulty sleeping
• Toileting more frequently, or less frequently
• Churning low down in the stomach
• Panic attacks
• Nightmares / Night terrors
Psychological symptoms of anxiety
• Tense, nervous, edgy
• Having a sense of dread, fearing the worst
• A perception of world is speeding up or slowing down
• Feeling like other people notice you’re anxious and are looking at you
• A busy, racy mind difficult / impossible to control thought overload
• Dwelling on experiences, ruminating over a situation again and again
• Restlessness, agitated and not being able to concentrate
• Feeling numb
It’s part of being human to feel anxious and fearful at times. There are many situations where it is understandable to have worries about how you will perform, or what an outcome will be. You might find it difficult to sleep, eat or concentrate. It’s quite usual that we feel tense or nervous when contemplating a stressful event or important decision to make. Then usually, after a short while or when the situation has passed, the feelings of worry stop.
However, for those that feel anxiety is controlling or limiting their life in some way you may consider professional support.
The way that I work in anxiety counselling is twofold:
At the beginning of the work, it is important to build a safe and trusting relationship. As the therapeutic relationship is being established, the focus of the work tends to be around the present-day experience of living with anxiety. This is done with an intention of helping you better understand the anxiety that you experience, how anxiety affects your day to day physical and social functioning and anxiety triggers etc. During this initial period, I’ll weave tips of how best to manage an anxious episode into the work. For some people coming to anxiety counselling, to work with anxiety in a present-day context may feel sufficient.
To work at increased depth, an exploration of how past scary experiences may still cause affect in the present can be hugely important. Historic events can still cast a shadow over our current experience, often unconsciously. If people are willing to examine the significance of the past and how it influences today, I’m more than happen to take this journey with them. The very nature of looking at fear may be a daunting experience, therefore I tend to embark on this stage after the initial grounding and relationship building sessions are done.
To learn more about my approach and other specialist counselling interests, please visit my home page