Anxiety is a common problem for many people and is often exacerbated in times of instability. Singapore is currently facing an economic downturn that is hitting very hard the financial, oil and gas and shipping industries. Many individuals and families are facing unknown future about their jobs and their financial situation.
Anxiety is caused by not knowing how the future will play out. For most people a certain amount of anxiety is good and normal. However, when instability increases, many individuals find it difficult to manage their fears and worries about how their future will play out. For some individuals they may find their thoughts are taken over by worries or even catastrophic thinking about horrible events that MAY happen. They may find they are spending an increasing about of timing worrying about potential bad outcomes. They find it difficult to concentrate at work and find sleeping difficult when the thoughts increase.
There is a lot of physiology that goes along with anxiety that is very uncomfortable for people. As people’s thoughts of anxiety increase they find symptoms of shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, tightness of chest and headaches. People may even experience a panic attack or something close to it. This can be very frightening for people and then they start to have fears about the panic attacks.
There are many techniques people can google and find to manage anxiety symptoms. Often these have limited impact. Most of these techniques are good but are focused on the doing or behavior of anxiety. Typical advice given is the following:
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
So why don’t they work, and how does counselling helping?
These techniques or advice often have little impact because they are not fundamentally targeting how the individual with anxiety is thinking.Any technique will become a gimmick and not work if the thinking that accompanies anxiety is not addressed. I work with many individuals who know what they need to do to manage their anxiety and know that what they are currently doing is not working – BUT YET THEY DO NOT CHOOSE DIFFERENTLY!
Counselling and Therapy helps people examine their thinking. Our thinking and how we speak to ourselves (that quite voice in your head that you hear or sometimes don’t hear) drives our behavior and our feelings. So if you do any of the above techniques but your thinking is catastrophic or black and white the technique won’t work.
Common thinking patterns accompany people with Anxiety. People with anxiety often are rigid thinker and start sentences with “It must be this way….” Or “It is should be this way or else…” or they are often very black and white. Things are either all good or all bad, there is no grey or middle ground. Many times anxiety people are feelers. They FEEL it is bad and then because they FEEL it, conclude it must be true….which it almost never is (think about people who get panic attacks driving or in a grocery store…they FEEL something bad is going to happen and then believe it to be true, yet they are completely safe).
These thoughts and beliefs are what drives anxiety and makes it worse. It comprises an individual’s ability to be rational and self-soothing. In therapy we focusing BEING calm and dealing with the thoughts and beliefs to determine the best anxiety techniques. We have very good success in treating anxiety in individuals.
Therapy will provide a framework and structure to help people examine their underlying beliefs and self-limiting talk. Many people thrive on anxiety and solutions that work in the past may be breaking down. If you are suffering, seek help. Therapy can provide an effective change in as little as 4-6 sessions with a motivated individual.