Do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks and sometimes anger? As someone who experienced a psychotic depression, anxiety and anorexia, I understand just how frightening, draining and debilitating the above can be.
Before you go any further, stop!
A little tip for you. Let out that big breath you’re probably holding in right now. That’s right — let it out with a big huff. Let your shoulders drop down from your ears. Unclench your teeth and jaw, go on, give it a little wiggle and let your whole face relax. Now drop your shoulders, unclench your fist (s) and lay them (or one of them if you’re on your mobile) flat on the table or your lap. Uncurl/uncross your legs, give your toes a wiggle and let me explain quickly.
Your body physically can not be tense and relaxed at the same time. So — if you’re hunched up, fists in tight balls, jaws clenched — you’re effectively telling your brain you’re on alert, tensed and ready to fight or flee. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. So it makes sense, if you follow the tips above, your relaxed body is telling your brain you’re calm and relaxed.
Now you might try this and think “Huh, that didn’t work,” and you might be right, the first time. But if you practice it enough — waiting for the bus, sitting on the train, in the lift, in the shower or standing in that always slow queue at the Post Office where the person in front is paying all their bills with pennies.
Practice, practice, practice. And just when you do need to relax quickly ie before an interview, exam etc, you’ll have practised so often, you can do it immediately, with ease.
While I have both personal and professional experience of mental health problems, this blog is no substitute for professional help. And if you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact your GP or the one the support services on this handy list of UK services.
ANGER is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. … But excessive anger can cause problems. Increased blood pressure and other physical changes associated with anger make it difficult to think straight and harm your physical and mental health (1)
Take a look at the anger cog and
- Take a Breath
- Observe – what am I reacting to? What am I thinking and feeling? What’s pushing my buttons here?
- Pull back and put in some perspective: Is this Fact or Opinion? Is there another way of looking at this? Am I misreading this situation? How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months’ time? What would I tell a friend in this situation?
- Practise what works – do the best thing, for you, for others, for the situation. What would help most? (consider both short and long term consequences).
Practice, Practice, practice. I can’t emphasise this enough. Imagine attempting to drive down the motorway or through a busy town after only having one driving lesson – do you think you could do it safely? The point is, we have to practice over and over — until it becomes second nature, like driving or cycling.
ANXIETY is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. But if your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder and you should contact your GP, access counselling, seek professional help (2)
Some symptoms of anxiety:
- Tense muscles
- Excessive worrying
- Restlessness, pacing, fidgeting
- Agitation, quick to anger
- Fatigued – changes to previous sleep pattern
- Changes to previous eating pattern
- Changes in libido
Repeat the technique as above — breathe, relax your jaw…….. Go back up the page, remind yourself of the technique and practice, practise, practise.
Anxiety can be debilitating, so it’s important to seek professional help if your symptoms are severe. If you feel anxious on the majority of days and experience one or more of the symptoms listed above for at least six months, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Regardless of how long you have been experiencing symptoms if you ever feel like your emotions are interfering with your life, work or relationships you should seek professional help.
Although anxiety is a medical condition in its own right, there can sometimes be a physical reason for your symptoms – and treating it can bring the anxious feelings to an end. See your GP to rule out any other causes and do not self-diagnose.
Are you still practicing unclenching your teeth and jaw? If not, go back up the page and remind yourself of the techniques.
If you experience sudden, intense anxiety and fear, it might be the symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms may include:
- feeling that you’re losing control
- mouth going dry
- sweating, trembling or shaking
- fingers or toes tingling
- shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
- feeling sick (nausea)
Are you still sitting comfortably? Are you in a relaxed position? Have your shoulders dropped from your ears. If not, go back, remind yourself and practice!
A panic attack usually lasts 5 to 30 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they’re not dangerous and should not harm you. (4)
- try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to someone.
- use calming breathing exercises
- exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax
- find out how to get to sleep if you’re struggling to sleep
- eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
- listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
- search and download relaxation and mindfulness apps or online community apps from the NHS apps library
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone and seek professional help.
Is this enough information or is it too much? Please let me know and feel free to ask questions.
- Carol Vivyan, 2010. Getselfhelp.co.uk
- Michelle Ayres, 2012. Getselfhelp.co.uk
- Carol Vivyan, 2015. Getselfhelp.co.uk