Can you Benefit from Anxiety?

Can you really benefit from anxiety? 

Something that is often a bit missing when it comes to bringing mental health issues into the public eye are the benefits they can bring to our lives. I know that might sound a little odd but for example if it were not for having had anxiety I wouldn’t have the life I love now.  It gave me so many messages and challenges me to change my life whenever it begins to be felt.  Life would be very poor and dull without it.

Help

If you have anxiety and it’s impact is too negative on the quality of your life then it really is time to get help. Anxiety it isn’t your fault, it is caused by physical alterations in the brain and needs to be treated as an injury. It really isn’t a state of mind you can change by simply thinking differently (CBT take note!)

My favourite benefits from having had anxiety are:

Confidence!

My favourite benefit has to be that I really don’t fear negative thoughts, feeling anxious or being in stressful situations anymore. Fear of fear was a big thing for me and I did what I could to avoid people and experiences which might lead to me feeling anxious, it made my world very small.  For me now there is no shame in feeling anxious, it’s normal and can be managed quite easily with a range of tools at my disposal.  That has led my confidence to flourish and keep on growing.

I often wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t had anxiety, I’m not sure how I would manage situations where emotions ran high without strategies to manage them

Relationships

Something I now really cherish are the connections I had missed out on from having anxiety.  It can be very isolating to feel like people around you are dangerous somehow as well as worrying about your sanity.  You can be surrounded by people and yet feel the loneliness creeping in like the darkest of nights.

Human connection is vital and now I know how anxiety tricks us into isolation, I make an extra effort to connect with people I love and care about.  It’s ok to struggle with connections and again there’s no shame in worrying about what people think about you as that is normal. You can though learn to manage those thoughts and fears which in turn help you connect with people around you on deeper levels through better communication.  As tempting as it is to be on your own and independent, you can only kid yourself for so long that this is the best way to live for you.

Being more conscientious is a natural anxiety trait and it can be a good one as it makes us more likely to be compassionate, caring, empathic and loyal.

Declutter

21st Century living can be very stressful and also full of micro clutter filling up our lives and time with too much stuff and demanding our time and attention.  Our mental loads are increasing and it’s mostly full of rubbish.

Anxiety is a wake up call to declutter and change the parts of life which are making your nervous systems over strained and unsustainable. Toxic people, situations,  work ethics, belief systems,  unhealthy lifestyles and materialism get reevaluated changed and let go of. It’s amazing how clients lives can change so much for the better because anxiety made them readdress their lives. 

Healthier

There’s no getting away from how anxiety motivates us to revaluate what affects our mental and physical health. The energy, motivation, confidence and clarity that comes with from eating healthier, exercising, hydrating and recharging etc is something you can’t even put a price on.

Future Proofing

Anxiety can be very good at helping to project yourselves into future scenarios and minimise the impact of future possible problems.  It’s easy to over look the organisational creative and problem solving skills of many anxiety sufferers and how good they can be at work, parenting and life in general. 

Authentic

A stronger sense of who you are, what you stand for you what you want to do with this one life of yours can come from anxiety.  It’s all too easy to put a mask on to be more liked and popular in this word but living like that can increase your anxiety as deep down you know you are a fraud. Being more honest and authentic can do wonders for your confidence,  self esteem and with the relationships around you.

Gratitude

Having some gratitude for anxiety no matter how it feels can begin to help you heal, the biological chemistry alone from this does wonders for your brain.  It also can give you a sense of “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to your anxiety journey and help move you forward at a healthier pace.

If you would like some help with anxiety and changing your relationship with it then contact me here and we can explore together from there.

Fake News!

img_9162If you are a social media user you may be familiar with the amount of fake news popping up all over your newsfeed begging to be clicked on and believed.  It’s become an epidemic thanks to various companies who actually employ people to create content which will tap into our desires to believe and therefore warp our version of reality.

It’s hideous but this isn’t a new phenomenon and in fact you are most likely to be just as good as this company in creating fake news which for you feels utterly believable and even acted upon.

Headlines &  Clickbait

Whether it’s fear of rejection, not being good enough or unable to handle failure in the future, these are brilliant headlines which the mind creates by manipulating your thoughts and body chemistry. These are the best forms of click bait as they feel so utterly believable at times and can grab your attention demanding to be clicked upon and accessed. 

How many times have you not gone for something because the headlines in your head said you couldn’t handle the made up negative outcome?

These headlines can even show a line or two of the content to get you to read into them ever further. Here’s an example….

“My Boss Just Looked at me Funny!!”

“They must have read that report I emailed them this morning. It must mean that I……..”

Basically the above headline is screaming to be accessed so you can read into this situation and try and protect yourself somehow. 

Once you indulge these headlines can trigger adrenaline, heart racing and a gut knot or flip for added conviction.  The primal brain and sympathetic nervous system are activated and can hijack you into an irrational worrying response which is hard to control no matter what else you rationally know deep down.

Take Control

it’s not point trying to ignore  or distract yourself from the types of personal fake news which will try and trigger you into reacting. This only trains your brain to look out even more for this type of headline and anything related. You have to deep breathe into that gut of yours and start acknowledging your headlines as just that…fake headlines, use a label if you want to help give you some space between you and the headline.

“that’s the fear of rejection headline.”

“that’s the fear that my boss doesn’t like me headline.”

“That’s the i’m not good enough headline.”

Remember that all thoughts are just thoughts, they are not real not matter how they feel. They are useful or not and acknowledging them as just a headline can help you become more objective and act on them or let them go.

Trashy

Keep breathing to your gut as this activates your parasympathetic nervous system and calms down the parts of the brain making this headline feel too real.  Let these headlines just be just be there and eventually your brain will get bored of this trashy tabloid news and want something a bit  more stimulating to focus on.

Injuries

Anxiety and depression disorders are caused by physical changes in the brain which I class as an injury. These physical changes in the brain can make fake news seem all the more real. Treating these injuries as a physical issue and not a state of mind you can change will help see fake news more often for what it really is.

Let people like Trump have the monopoly on fake news whilst you focus on reality, who you really are and what you are truly capable of.

Contact me if you would like more help in managing your fake news. 

Also here’s a great little video belief systems which you might find helpful. Click here.

(Big thank you to one of my recent clients who inspired this article, you know who you are and it’s much appreciated!)

Friday Takeaway!

Whoo hooo! It’s nearly the weekend and that for most of us is the time we look for treats, chill out, let our hair down (that one’s a bit difficult for me 🙂 and spend time with the people we love.

IMG_3338

The danger though is the hard work we may have put into our diets and exercise is at risk from being undone because we have weirdly been conditioned to see treating ourselves a certain way.

The picture of the pie and chips is a prime example of a treat a lot of people will go for tonight. We have been conditioned to believe this is much more attractive than boring old “healthy” food which you may have begrudgingly dipped into throughout the week.

Life changing chocolate bars?

I was watching some adverts this week where they are trying to convince me my life will be more than fulfilled and more exciting by drinking a popular soft drink. My mid week will be sensational by eating battered chicken and I can be even more quirkier and funnier by buying low quality chocolate filled with even lower quality sugared fillers.  I don’t even need to have a hearty breakfast according to one young guy, I can get that in a bottle…*retch

What have we become 😦

Obey, conform, don’t question.

WTF is going on? Seriously?  I’m not denying that carbs filled with sugar and salt can initially taste great but that’s going to be about it. A few mouthfuls later and I’m bored and wondering “why am I doing this to myself?” There’s pretty much no nutrition in this sh*t food and the damage it does with your body is shocking but yet we like to conform to what the junk food companies say we should be eating.  Obey the adverts people and just eat…

Sexy Salad?

When was the last time you saw salad being sexed up to entice you to think of it differently?  (the aubergine emoji doesn’t count btw).  Healthy food has a serious PR problem and junk food is winning the war in that respects as it’s brainwashed the masses to believe their cr*p is the exciting, life enhancing and tastier product.  Add a few sexy people chowing down on it and we want what they have as the PR machine of life says “these are the hot, sexy people you should all be emulating. If you don’t, you are a failure.”

This is also feeding the obesity problem massively as a plate of pie and chips won’t actually feed your body, it just blocks up your gut.  Malnutrition is becoming too common as people caught up in a cycle of over feeding to try and get nutrition into the body but their cravings for salt and sugar lead to choices which simply won’t do that.  I don’t even need to tell them what to eat instead to get their health back, these are intelligent people but sadly their conditioning means that eating healthy food is boring and hard work whilst junk is so much more fun and easier and after a hard week…it’s their treat.

Itsu lovely

I went to Itsu today, that for me is my Friday ritual and you get some great tasty food which actually does “feed you.”  That for  me is a real treat, there are so many flavours to dip into and it costs around the same as the pie and chips.  I felt full and satisfied and I won’t have to battle any guilt for ruining the hard work I am putting into my health and fitness program. There’s a Leon a few steps away too which is much better than junk or a bland beige sandwich.  What are you worth and does your food represent that?

Monday Diet Day?

Eating well over the weekend makes a huge difference to your mental and physical health.  You can’t put a price on what it’s like to start Monday feeling refreshed from your weekend.  Feeling fat, bloated and hungover makes your week much harder than it need be. In all honesty, life’s hard enough as it is without being tricked into believing cr*p food will make your life more exciting and amazing.

What is funny is how many people start diets on Mondays after binging all weekend which dooms it to failure as they feel so low in energy it doesn’t take long to reach for the treats causing the problem in the first place.

Don’t question me!

The food industry actually lobbies government to make sure no laws come into play which impact too much on their brainwashing. The sugar lobby is very powerful in making sure you get your fix and won’t tolerate any moves to hold it back.

Your choice is whether you continuing to conform or not or break out and devalue this sh*t food for something that is worth your time and hard earned money.

End the battle

Therapists like myself can help explore your conditioning and help decrease the value of the food which doesn’t feed you and increase the value of food which will.  What’s great about that is that I eat what I want and what I tend to want more often is great, tasty and healthy food. There’s no diet to battle and I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything at all.  My advice is to stop dieting as that is just doomed to fail and feels miserable. Learn to change your food habits so there is no battle, nothing to fail and will make you more aware of your conditioning so you choose your food instead of wandering like the Walking Dead to the beige boring old takeaway.

 

 

Drop your Chores!

I may be lucky enough to live by the sea but that means nothing unless I make the time to go and experience the beach and seafront.  The same goes for the countryside, parks, rivers, lakes and areas of beauty which can be very easily taken for granted.

The effect on the mind being in areas of beauty is a powerful one and even taking a 10 minute break to get some air can make a huge difference to your mental health.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and there’s not an actual lot to focus on when sat looking out to sea. The same goes for the countryside too, whilst it’s beautiful there’s very little information compared to a city to stimulate the mind so it can take a bit of a break from being overstimulated by our busy lifestyles.

Panic!

I can see some clients begin to panic when asked about making time to be outside as their productivity levels will drop by taking some time out.  Yet their brains and yours benefit so much from investing in mental health, the results tend to be more clarity, focus and much better productivity in the areas that matter.

Procrastination tends to happen when the mind is tired and tries to conserve energy for “real” emergencies like life or death situations.  Luckily most of us won’t face a life threatening moment today so we can put that energy into investing in quality of life.

Bank

You need to bank energy to spend it and popping out for a walk, eating healthy, exercising, relaxing and having fun are just a few ways to gain energy for those tasks which can feel like hard work.

So drop your chores, get outside for a bit and bank some energy, life’s simply too short not too.

Overload!

I have seen a huge increase lately in clients who are caught in a caffeine trap where they drink it throughout the day to keep alert and “function.” The problem is that they feel they need it as their minds are dulled and foggy from the bad nights sleep and sleeping medication they  try to knock themselves out with.  Yet one part of what’s causing their anxiety and stress is their caffeine habit and so the cycle continues.

You may want to rethink your “afternoon pick me up.”

What’s quite clear is that a lot of people really don’t know how powerful caffeine really is and that it can stop you sleeping and feeling more relaxed. Whilst some of you reading this may raise an eyebrow at what seems like common knowledge, there does need to be better information out there on what this powerful drug can do to your mind and body.

Redbull with your session?

Some clients suffering with anxiety will arrive for sessions clutching coffee and even energy drinks to sip during the session.  At least when I see this we can approach this lifestyle habit which can be changed easily. Just this little change can help someone feel so much better in themselves very quickly.

Did you know?

400 milligrams (mg) of coffee is apparently the limit of a safe amount we can have each day with around 250mg classed as a normal amount.

Some high street double Espresso shots can contain over 220mg.

A high street americano or flat white can contain over 270mg depending where you shop.

A green tea surprisingly can contain around 70mg which is not far from some single shot Espresso’s.

The effects of caffeine can be felt up to 6 hours after drinking it. If you drink a cup 6 hours before bed your sleep time can be reduced by an hour.  It also reduces the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which is the deep sleep you need for recuperation.

Caffeine triggers the flight or fight response which during the hyper aroused state can make you more over reactive and stressed. If you are an anxiety sufferer then you have this happening too much already, adding more strain to your brain will cause more problems.

Healthy?

It’s not all bad as there are some health benefits to drinking caffeine such at reduced risk of strokes and oral, throat cancers.  But if you are having mental health issues then assessing and reducing your caffeine intake can help you speed up your recovery.  For some it’s worth reducing and stopping altogether and funnily enough those that have stopped find themselves not lacking in energy at all.

If you feel you are reducing or giving up something wonderful with coffee then yes it will be a bit of a battle. By increasing the value of what you will get from changing this habit can make it so much easier to let go of or alter to suit your circumstances.

Free!

As one client told me that by reassessing their caffeine intake combined with the anxiety management strategies I teach they felt so free. They had much more energy, mental clarity, better sleep and healthier relationships with the people around them as they were much less reactive.

Something which you simply cannot put a price on.

 

 

 

 

 

#BUSY!

#BUSY

Tempting isn’t it? When you are watching the television you could just check your social media, emails, pop onto Amazon or surf the web and flick your attention back and forth from screen to screen.  Some clients admit they have a few screens on at the same time whilst they catch up on various tv shows, they also admit they miss half the program due to their attention being spread thinly and eventually give on on the latest box set as it’s gone from exciting to “something that’s on in the background.” 

We demand way too much from it and then insist it shuts off immediately when we go to bed, for a lot of people that simply isn’t going to happen and sleep disorders are also now on the increase.  Your nervous system if it’s under too much strain repeatedly will tell you there’s a problem and that’s where anxiety, stress and depression can kick in.

Signs of trouble

These can include, worrying, overanalysing, trouble with decision making, memory issues, feeling anxious, sleep issues, low and over reacting.  If these sound familiar then it’s time to take your brain health seriously.

Bombarded

During the day our minds are bombarded with an incredible amount of information, sights, sounds, smells and what we have touched and tasted. It’s amazing that when you add to that our emotional states, thought processes about the past and future and our normal day to day activities on top, it’s a wonder our brains are still able to function with so much going on. It’s a brilliant super computer but it does need your help.

It does function better when we rest it and get a good nights sleep, but with our determination culturally to wear an “i’m super busy” badge of honour, brains are becoming strained and the effects can be devastating

Relax

One thing you can begin to do is to relax in the evening, amazingly even when I mention that to some clients they literally shudder at the thought of not doing something productive.  The value of being busy has somehow become more valuable than a life of quality. When anxiety and stress begin to show it’s often a sign that you need to reassess what you are rushing around and multi tasking for and what else is actually more important?

Give your brain a break

Reduce screen time and multiple screen time as it’s too stimulating and reduces the quality of what your attention could fully be on in that moment.

Alcohol to chill out actually stress’s your body out and reduces sleep quality.

Alcohol also plays havoc with your blood sugar levels which tends to lead to carb overloading and more stress on the body.  Reassess your drinking habits and what it’s really doing to your quality of life.

Get outside, an evening, daytime walk in areas where the scenery doesn’t change much like the countryside or seaside can help reduce pressure on an overstimulated mind.

Caffeine in the late afternoon and evenings overstimulate your nervous system and reduces sleep quality.

Bedrooms are for sex and sleep only, if your bedroom resembles an entertainment centre then how can your mind not associate being stimulated in this place?

Noise pollution is becoming more of a problem, do what you can to minimise sounds around you like turning off the background tv and radio.

Use an app like Headspace which is available for most platforms. It’s a simple and effective way to teach your brain to slow down and take the strain off it.

Focus on one task at a time using strategies like the Pomodoro Technique which is fantastic in helping you develop your concentration skills.

Lastly I would really recommend giving yourself some time to think through your day, worries, achievements and so on.  If you remain busy and distracted all day right up until bedtime then it won’t be a surprise when the thoughts you have not given time for will suddenly pop up and demand your attention.  Even if it’s 15 minutes sat in a room, bath, garden or on the loo, it can be a wonderful tonic for the mind.

Finally

The tips above can really help your brain calm down and strengthen for the really important parts of life you need physical and mental energy for.  If you don’t give yourself time then the price to pay can be huge and what you are doing all for this will be at risk.  Just some simple maintenance and change go bad habits can go a long way but if you do struggle then contact me and we can go from there.

Snap out of it!

Younger me

Despite the smile, I was terrified inside.

When I was younger I avoided any type of therapy and help which would have hopefully tackled my anxiety head on. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep the anxiety, I would have done anything to turn it off but I just felt stupid and weak for not being able to sort it out myself.

Surely I could snap myself out of this couldn’t I?  Just be more positive, man up and just get on with it, what was all this worry nonsense?  In the cold light of day I just felt so powerless and pathetic!

So the battle with negativity continued as I tried my best to control my thoughts and make them more “half glass full instead of empty.”  I shudder now at such an ignorant attitude but it was understandable especially in a society that in general doesn’t understand mental health issues.

In honesty I wasted years naively thinking that seeking help was for the weak and stupid as my anxiety was my own fault and a state of mind I should just snap out of.  

I didn’t know that anxiety was an injury from my past and that seeking help was an act of strength not weakness.  It takes a lot of guts to go and open up to someone about your state of mind and explore healing your anxiety injury which is why you may be fooled into staying in your comfort zone of misery.

Life really is too short not to seek help and explore the options available in improving your quality of life.

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