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Category Archives: anxiety

Work Anxiety

Anxiety at Work

Every job has its own level of stress attached to it. Even if you truly love your job, or think your job is too easy to be stressful, don't be fooled; there is always a small level of pressure on a subconscious level. Even the little things can sometimes be a strain: having to get up at the same time each day to go to the same place, there could be someone you don’t get on with but have to put up with on a daily basis, the food may be off or even an unexpected request for overtime.

Those are minor annoyances that can disrupt our routines and may put additional pressure on us. That feeling of dread and pressure. The day drags on or goes too fast. You feel disconnected and grumpy. Nagging thoughts creep up on you. You start to think that there is no way you can get anything done now, and do it all on automatic pilot.

That is a real bad day.

Now think: how often do you feel this way?

There are many people who have these feelings every day and this group just keeps growing.

When anxiety is stress related it is hard to “get rid of it” as some might say. Work means having to be there day after day. So many people facing work stress feel as if they are descending into the gates of hell the moment they get up to get ready for another day at work. Then, at the end of the day, when the doors of their job close behind them there is no joy. There is only the continuous monotonous voice that tells them that “tomorrow will be exactly the same and so will the day after that and the day after that, and …”

These days the work floor is more competitive than ever. You have to work hard to stand out and be noticed. Overwork, trying to prove yourself, aiming for promotion and the fear of losing your job have made that many workers suffer extreme anxiety.

You might recognise some of the symptoms in you or in someone you know:

Mood Swings
Short temper
Highly Emotional
Heart Palpitations
Thoughts of death
Feeling of dread
Panic Attacks
Feeling out of control

This is not how work should make you feel. If you recognise this in yourself or see it in others, try to get them, or yourself help.

The biggest problem is the fear of talking about it. You may fear people will think the responsibility of your job is too much for you when admitting to feeling anxious. You may fear it might cost you your job. This is not likely, and in any event: if your symptoms get worse this could lead to making errors or a complete burnout and that is far more serious than just trying to get help.

You might wonder: What can a counsellor do for me? They can't do my job for me, can they? Sadly no, they are sadly unable to do that. But there is a lot that they can do to improve the quality of your life.

Research has shown that when it comes to treating anxiety disorders counselling and therapy are usually the most effective options. This is because the focus is placed not just on the symptoms, but on all the underlying problems. Your anxiety and stress did not suddenly appear out of nowhere, there was a build up to it that needs to be found. Counselling can also help you manage panic attacks, build your self-esteem and endurance and help you return to a more happy way of living.

If you are aware of anxiety building in your life or that of a loved one, don't think “well, I'm not making any mistakes yet.” Or “Other people can handle this, why can't I?” Many people have gone before you that thought the same way. They just wanted to “finish this project”, felt that one more all-nighter wouldn't matter etc. They were wrong and often led to consequences they regret to this day. So why would you wait until you have reached that wall, that point of no return? Why wait until that is accident or that completely preventable screw up?

Understand that there is no harm in seeking help, no shame. We seek help and treatment for all other parts of our body when these are in pain. Your brain is a part of your body and is suffering its own form of pain right now. If you cut yourself you put a band aid before the wound might become infected. If you pull a muscle when jogging you stop running for the day. Your brain is like a muscle that has been working too hard, give it the band aid or break it needs. Counselling is always there for you to help you do this.


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Dealing with anxiety…

AnxietyWhen anxiety becomes recurrent and overwhelming, it can cripple an individual’s ability to function, and can lead to other symptoms that include dizziness, shortness of breath, and a racing heartbeat. Anxiety is worrying excessively about something fearsome that is not actually there and the assumption that the problem is there for sure.

If your life has been marred by anxiety disorders such as incapacitating phobia, unrelenting worry, obsessive thoughts, or panic attacks, it is important to seek help before these symptoms develop into more serious health concerns. You might find it useful to seek for help. There are a few ways you can get the support you need:

Talking about your fears - The best results dealing with most anxiety disorders are a combination of cognitive and non cognitive-behavioral therapy. The core purpose behind cognitive-behavioral therapy is to help you regain control of situations that cause anxiety in your life. The thoughts that produce anxiety can be identified and modified using different techniques that alter behavioral responses and eliminate the anxiety reaction.

For instance, your therapist might suggest some training in deep breathing and relaxation to counteract the rapid breathing that comes along with certain anxiety disorders. The cognitive therapy approach involves educating you to understand how your thoughts can lead to the feelings of anxiety and how you can change such thoughts to minimize the possibility of occurrence and the level of reaction. This is often combined with some cognitive awareness techniques to help you tolerate and confront a fearful situation in a safe and controlled environment. During this process your negative thoughts will be identified, analysed and modified in order to make your responses more positive and under your own control.

Getting more education about anxiety - For you to overcome anxiety you have to understand your thought process. Getting yourself educated about what the triggers and causes of various aspects of your worries are might go a long way in helping you overcome your worries. Although education alone won’t solve the problem entirely, it will enable you to reap the most benefit out of therapy.

Connecting More With People - A problem shared is a problem halved. In the same vein, isolation and loneliness set a bigger stage for anxiety. Minimize your vulnerability by reaching out to others. Try as much as possible to join support or self-help groups, see friends, or share your fears and worries with a trusted one. This has proven to have a great positive impact on people’s fight against anxiety and depression.

Practicing Healthy Lifestyle Habit - Make out time for regular exercise because it relieves anxiety and tension. It is going to be counterproductive to try and cope with your symptoms with drugs and alcohol. Your problems may just multiply threefold. Stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine can also increase your anxiety.

There is no immediate formula to fix anxiety. Overcoming anxiety disorders requires commitment and time. Most therapies aimed at reducing anxiety will involve facing your fears rather than avoiding them, so before you get better, you may feel worse.

However, one important thing is to stick with your chosen treatment. If you are not satisfied with the rate of recovery, bear in mind that therapies to treat anxiety are more effective in the long run. You will definitely reap the rewards of your steadfastness if you can see it through to the end.

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Social Anxiety

Social AnxietySocial anxiety disorder, previously referred to as social phobia, has been redefined in the latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  Social phobia referred to a fear of performing or public speaking. However, researchers have come to realize that this definition was too narrow.  A person can experience extreme discomfort or fear when socializing, performing, working or even eating in public.

Social anxiety disorder is essentially brought on by any activity in which a person feels they are being watched and criticized. Furthermore, the person may go to great lengths to avoid feared social or performance situations, which may negatively impact their occupational, academic or daily functioning.  Additionally, the impacts of social anxiety disorder make it difficult to create or maintain healthy personal relationships.

For example:

A woman is fearful of attending a team meeting because she knows she’ll have to discuss her project in front of all of her coworkers, so she calls in sick to avoid the situation and sends her boss an email update on her project.

A man is meeting a friend at a new bar up the street.  The man gets there first and is flooded with anxiety because he feels everyone else at the bar is judging him.  He knows this is irrational, but the fear begins to mount.  His heart is racing and he is paralyzed unable to give the bartender his drink order.

Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder

According to the DSM-5, the criteria for being diagnosed with social anxiety require a person’s anxiety level to be disproportionate to the situation and the symptoms must be persistent over the span of six months or more.  Social anxiety disorder is not to be confused with panic disorders.  A person experiencing a panic attack fears that what they are experiencing is indicative of a physical ailment, such as a heart attack.  A person experiencing an anxiety attack is aware that their symptoms are a result of their anxiety.

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Traditionally, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been a proven treatment modality for anxiety disorder. CBT addresses and corrects maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that are often associated with anxiety disorders.  For example, CBT addresses thoughts such as, “everyone thinks I’m stupid” or behaviors such as avoiding social gatherings due to anxiety by providing techniques and strategies to lessen anxiety.  CBT focused support groups are particularly helpful for social anxiety disorders because it aids in developing coping strategies for social interactions in a therapeutic environment. One’s success with CBT therapeutic technique requires practicing coping strategies both in session and at home.

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) is a recent humanistic approach to therapy that incorporates structured techniques with unconditional positive regard and empathy to address a client’s issues.  Although EFT was developed for the treatment of depression it has been applied to trauma and anxiety over the last 20 years.  Whereas CBT focuses on correcting maladaptive thoughts and behaviors, EFT addresses the emotional process behind those thoughts and behaviors.  For example, addressing childhood trauma that has led to the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors that cause anxiety.

Regardless of the therapeutic model used, social anxiety disorder will not right itself or dissipate with time.  In fact, anxiety disorders have been proven to worsen overtime if not addressed.  Reaching out to a mental health professional and committing to utilizing appropriate strategies and techniques are the best way to combat social anxiety.

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Could counselling be a choice for you?

images (1)Have you ever heard anyone saying 'this is just an excuse to wallow in misery”? If given the option would people really choose to wallow in misery as opposed to living a happy, fulfilled life? Fortunately statements like that are becoming less and less common and the stigma attached to mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety has significantly diminished over the years. It is not so uncommon nowadays for people to look for counselling or psychotherapy as a way to overcome difficulties or as a powerful ally against the battles of mental illnesses.

A frequent misinterpretation of looking for counselling is that only weak people or ‘losers’ do it. This could not be further from the truth. As Richard Taite, founder of Cliffside Malibu, a Drug & Alcohol Addiction treatment centre in the America, said “Not only do successful people not fear therapy, they embrace it…. Psychotherapy is a tool that creates success. Smart people use it.”

Awareness of mental health illnesses has also increased in recent years in the UK. The Mental Health Foundation (UK’s leading mental health research, policy and service improvement charity) has created the Mental Health Awareness Week. For one week each May they campaign around a specific theme. This year’s theme was anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)’s Governor, Dr Andrew Reeves says that the greater awareness of mental health illnesses, largely thanks to high profile people such as Alastair Campbell speaking out about it, is also relevant. "While, traditionally, things got worse and worse until the GP eventually prescribed medication, I think this growing awareness has made people much more likely to recognise and acknowledge their own mental health problems and be more proactive in seeking support at an earlier stage."

A BACP survey carried out earlier this year has revealed that 28 per cent of Britons have consulted a counsellor or a psychotherapist, compared to just one in five people in 2010. “The significant increase in the number of people consulting a counsellor or psychotherapist is evidence that people are seeing more and more value in these extremely effective interventions” says Dr Andrew Reeves.

It makes sense to think that if you had a heart condition you would look for a cardiologist, or if you had a broken arm you would be seen by an orthopaedist. Therefore with the awareness of mental health problems increasing and the stigma around it decreasing, people in the UK might find it a bit easier to look for a counsellor or psychotherapist if they feel they can benefit from it or envisage the chance of leading a happier, less stressful life.

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