Thursday, 10 March 2022

How to spot anxiety and ways to calm it

When anxiety rears its head, it can have a seriously damaging effect on your mental wellbeing and can seep into many aspects of your life. From being unable to perform simple daily tasks to heart palpitations and brain fog, the symptoms of anxiety can be really frightening.

Causes of anxiety

There are many causes of anxiety which can differ from person to person, and it can be triggered at any point in our lives.

  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • The death of someone close to you
  • Work issues
  • Money worries
  • Health concerns
  • Some types of food and drink such as caffeine and sugary foods
  • World events

Because anxiety can often creep up on us, it’s important to recognise the symptoms early on before it leads to more serious physical health problems.

Signs of anxiety

If you haven’t experienced anxiety before, there are several symptoms you can watch out for so that you’re able to recognise it and take action.

  • Feelings of dread
  • Lack of concentration or having ‘brain fog’
  • Feeling on edge and restless
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle aches
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Digestive problems
  • Irregular sleep

How to calm feelings of anxiety

The most notable symptoms of anxiety, and in particular anxiety attacks, include an increased heart rate and breathing. Because this causes the blood flow to your brain, your body reacts as it prepares you to cope with an extreme situation. But by putting healthy habits into place, it’s possible to reduce the symptoms of anxiety over time.

  • Avoid caffeine and sugary foods as these can trigger anxiety
  • Avoid alcohol as this is not only a depressant but it can also make you feel anxious once its effects wear off as it reduces the levels of serotonin in your brain.
  • Write down or speak to someone about what is making you feel anxious. A study published by Harvard Medical School shows that expressive writing can help deal with 'traumatic or stressful life experience'.
  • Use lavender oil or perfume to keep you feeling calm. Lavender’s sweet scent has relaxing properties and is often used in yoga and meditation. Other scents that people commonly find calming are ocean scents and cut grass, so if you live near the sea or a park, you may be able to indulge in a spot of aromatherapy and get outdoors at the same time.
  • Practise activities such as mindfulness, yoga and meditation to help you clear your mind, relax and switch off.
  • Turn off your phone and do something that gives you enjoyment. Keeping the mind occupied with something other than thoughts about your worries acts in the same way as meditation. It's like a mini-break for the mind.
  • Talk to someone who understands how you’re feeling as they can give you words of encouragement and positivity when you need it most.
  • Do some form of exercise as this can help burn off any of that nervous energy and restlessness caused by anxiety.
  • Take a break and go somewhere new. When we visit an unfamiliar place, our brain is so busy taking in all the new sights that it focuses less on our daily worries.

Further information

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

How to overcome feelings of shame

Shame can be an extremely toxic and damaging emotion and more often than not, it’s caused by how you’ve been treated by other people in the past. The perceptions and behaviours of others towards yourself can create a negative voice in your head that leads you to believe you’re not good enough, you’re unlovable or you don’t belong in a certain group. In an interview with BrenĂ© Brown, author and researcher in shame and vulnerability, she states that shame is an "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging".

Although feelings of shame usually emerge during childhood, it’s not uncommon for adults to also feel the same emotions. Unless these thoughts and feelings are confronted, the long-term effects can seriously damage our mental health and affect the way in which we live our lives. Shame has been linked to bullying, depression, eating disorders and addiction so it’s important to find ways to deal with it.

Ways to control feelings of shame

  • Acknowledge our feelings and talk about them. Many people who suffer from feelings of shame don’t like to talk about them with anyone else as they can be something that they’ve kept as their personal secret. But by opening up and discussing our feelings with someone we trust we take away its power. Not only can close friends and family offer us a non-judgemental ear, but they can also reassure us of our positive traits. Accept that not everyone’s opinion is right, or important for that matter. The negative opinions of others can play a big part in causing feelings of shame, especially as many of us want to feel accepted or admired. But in many cases, the people who do cause us to feel shame are really not the ones we should be desperately trying to please. 
  • Take risks and learn from experiences. It can be difficult to take risks especially when we always fear the worst or think that we’re not good enough but one of the best ways to overcome feelings of doubt and shame is to accept disappointments and build up an immunity to insecurity. The more we experience disappointment, learn from it and look for the positives, we will grow our self-confidence and the voice in our head will become kinder. 
  • Embrace who you are. Instead of trying to people please and be something you’re not, recognise your positive qualities and speak kindly to yourself. The more you practise positive self-talk, the more your insecurities, vulnerabilities and feelings of shame will diminish.
  • Create new connections. By connecting with people similar to yourself who have matching interests, ideas or thoughts, you’ll start to feel more at home in the world and it will increase your self-worth.

Further information

You can watch our free webinar recording and check out all of the resources provided using this link: Overcoming Shame and Learning To Love Yourself