Anxiety and stress are experienced both in our mind and body. Each person is unique and therefore their experience of anxiety is unique to them. Some of the commonly described symptoms are:
- overwhelming fearful thoughts
- chest pains
- muscle tensions
- changes in digestion
- tension headaches
- disturbed sleep patterns
Anxiety is a natural response to threat. We all experience it. However when it is sustained it can become a way of life and can severely impair our functioning.
Making sense of the physical symptoms and accompanying feelings can be very helpful as these can be alarming in themselves. When we are very anxious we tend to hold our breath and this increases the feelings of anxiety and so sets up a vicious cycle. In contrast when we are excited we breathe freely. It makes sense therefore that focussing on the breath can be an important first step to regain control and helping the body to return to a state of calm.
A phobia is anxiety with a specific focus and can be worked with in similar ways. Sometimes it may be useful to learn specific breathing methods, meditation and relaxation techniques as forms of self-help to be practised alongside counselling and psychotherapy.
Together we may discover various self-help methods which the person can experiment with and adapt to their particular needs and lifestyle