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Anxious thoughts

Anxious thoughts can be a problem when self-reflection gets out of hand and becomes negative rumination.

As a health professional I accept that the Mental Health Foundation place this issue as a cause of anxiety and depression.

In 2013 the University of Liverpool published a study that  said that rumination (a word for constant repetitive thinking or dwelling that comes from the action in cows of chewing the cud) far from being a player in the most common mental health issues, is the largest predictor.

So what does this mean for us? It means that when we dwell on things, not only do our thoughts tend to spiral downwards but that can lead us to poor mental health.

This will come as no surprise to therapists, but the extent may. Most therapists see the link between persistent negative thought and self-blame and anxiety and depression, but as a causative factor?

It also means that psychological issues can lead to problems at a mental health level. Replaying thoughts over and over again makes us sad and anxious.

There is also evidence that rumination is at play in OCD and eating disorders, in fact anywhere our negative thoughts are stuck on repeat, we find the potential for problems.

So… what can we do about it?

Well firstly, we can learn to relax. Relaxation is often the key in early therapy to opening up the space into which the client can grow and change can be made.

Think about the amount of time that anxious thoughts or worried thoughts take up, or as some say, the amount of space they rent in your head. With all that time and energy freed up, what would you be able to do?

After that, we can look at the sense of threat that generally underpins anxiety, often being able to identify that threat can help us move forward to explore it and perhaps re-frame it or find ways to cope with it.

Please don’t think that anxious thoughts, constant thought repetition or rumination are something that you have to ‘put up with’ or suffer. If you need help to overcome these patterns, then please reach out to a professional.

 

 

Tinnitus relief

Tinnitus relief is a subject close to my heart and one that I am passionate about.

This week I have been invited to present and advise again at the Bolton Tinnitus Support Group which is a truly wonderful organisation. They help tinnitus sufferers to cope with the symptoms and the difficulties that often come along with the diagnosis.

It will be no surprise that people with tinnitus can get anxious and depressed, but it may be a surprise to know that these three issues can be chicken and egg. One thing is certain though, that tinnitus is a subjective issue which is sensitive to mood.

It’s similar to pain in that way, a subjective perception which is worse at some times and less so at others. Often when the person is distracted or absorbed (what psychology calls ‘flow state’) then the symptoms are less noticeable.

In therapy we can access states of relaxation which we call ‘resource states’. When someone is relaxed, they can’t be anxious at the same time so accessing such a state of relaxed being is an early aim of tinnitus relief.

After that, then ‘anchoring’ the resource state can allow the person to bring on that feeling of relaxation when needed by triggering a subconscious memory of it. In times of stress, this is an empowering tool for the client.

It’s often about learning to manage the symptoms and that has behavioural elements of environment and thought as well as wider elements of meaning and perception.

All of these layers of the onion, we can work on peeling in the therapy room, working towards finding your peace.

The feeling of being worn down by the tinnitus is something I also often hear and this is what can lead to low mood. Again, in therapy relief can be gained by re-framing and building emotional resilience.

If you want to discuss further then, please contact me from my website Talking-Cure

Bolton mental health update

Bolton mental health update is a quick look back over the last 5 years since I moved back to Bolton.

Although not from there, I went to Bolton School so I made friends and connections in the town. When Talking Cure was set up it was my aim to provide specialist expert psychotherapy and hypnotherapy based in the town.

As a UKCP psychotherapist, CNHC hypnotherapist and psychologist, I take self-referrals, GP referrals and clients from BUPA and other major insurers. It’s been an interesting and enjoyable five years and I think it’s interesting to take a snapshot as to what Boltonians seem to struggle with most, hence the idea for a Bolton mental health update came about.

As you might expect worry, anxiety, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic attack issues are high on the list. It isn’t surprising, we live ever more frantic lives, ever faster, more information and more pressure.

When perceived demands are greater than perceived ability to cope then we can slip into anxious thought patterns. If left untreated, these can worsen and may lead to depression. Many of the clients I see need some help to re-frame their lives or challenges.

Teaching them to relax and building self-esteem and emotional resilience lie at the heart of treatment. The interesting thing about anxiety is that it is impossible to be anxious and relaxed at the same time.

If you can learn to switch on relaxation you can switch off anxiety.

From there, in therapy, we work to examine the reasons behind the negative thought patterns in the first place. Using a selection of techniques and psychological interventions, often with hypnosis, a change happens.

So, if I was asked to give you one thing that troubles the mental health of Bolton, I would say anxiety underpins most issues.

My own experience with panic attacks and anxiety is what led me to learn to help others. Now I specialise in anxiety and offer therapy face to face and online, partnering with some charities to improve reach.

I’ll keep you posted as to how things develop.

Best

Stuart

 

 

 

 

self-esteem

Caffeine panic

Caffeine panic – about 10 years ago now I cut caffeine from my diet.

Apart from a three day headache there seemed little effect at the time but I did it because I believed it would make things calmer in the long run, and on reflection, it did.

Although I can’t remember the hour or the day things felt different, they do.

It’s conspicuous by its absence caffeine.

Most people ingest a couple of hundred milligrams of this stimulant each day. The jury is out on what are the best levels, but as with many things, I think it depends on the individual.

For the anxious, it can make things a lot worse, and the anxious individual’s sensitivity is heightened.

This happens because caffeine mimics panic symptoms, it can make you jittery, nervous, filled with dread, irritable and restless. Caffeine can actually induce panic attacks.

Caffeine panic – It was this feeling of empty uneasiness and restlessness that I wondered about, and what had been causing it.

That’s the feeling that years later I no longer carry around with me.

Some symptoms of a Panic Attack include sweating, fast or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, digestive issues. Also, it can bring on a feeling of dread, unreality, pins and needles, even chest pain. (APA, 2014)

Guess what? Caffeine can cause fast or irregular heartbeat, diarrhoea, racing thoughts, fast breathing, nausea, sweating… you get the picture, I’m sure.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world. This is why we pay so much for it in Starbucks. It makes you alert, keeps you awake.

It can be natural or synthetic and is found in some unlikely foods and drinks, so if you are worried about caffeine panic and are anxious, then perhaps look at your consumption of chocolate, coffee, cola, tea and medicines and start to see where it is (Lucozade anyone?).

Are you struggling with anxiety, panic or stress levels?

Maybe have a look at whether that pick-me-up little helper is actually a part of the issue

 

Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying.

The impact of workplace bullying increases stress, anxiety and depression. It can have a major effect on home life and take a toll on relationships too.

Bullying in the workplace and uncomfortable work situations can cause upset and turbulence at home. As a result stress levels rise, sleep is disturbed, symptoms of anxiety and depression increase.

Maybe it’s difficult to discuss work related issues at home because:

  • You may convince yourself that you can hide your feelings from your partner.
  • The bully has made you feel responsible for the situation and you don’t want to share your experiences.
  • You feel that your partner will not be supportive and as a result will probably blame you for bringing the situation on yourself.

It is very likely that increased stress and anxiety from workplace bullying will bring about a noticeable personality change and your partner will realise that something is wrong.

  • Frayed temper due to worry and bottled up feelings may mean that bullying in the workplace causes you to lash out at those around you.
  • There may be financial worries hence making you feel lucky to have a job at all.

Your partner could be incredibly supportive and help fight with you end the bullying. Finding out that a loved one is suffering bullying in the workplace is upsetting, especially if it has been kept secret.

Emotional health and personal relationships may be under enormous strain due to bullying in the workplace increased stress, anxiety and depression.

It’s really important to look after you

  • Keeping a diary will serve as a written account of events and also help you express how you’re feeling.
  • Taking some time off work may help you feel calmer. Don’t feel guilty about doing this; bullying in the workplace is not acceptable.
  • Listen to your body, it is speaking to you. It may be worthwhile booking a check-up with your GP.
  • Exercise is proven to release stress and anxiety and need not be expensive. A swim, walk or bike ride are all great stress relievers
  • Talk to a UKCP therapist (had to slip it in somewhere)

Fearing Anxiety

Fearing Anxiety comes from how we shape reality. Our focus determines our reality, change the focus and as a result, change the reality.

You see,  your fear can  distort your reality. When we focus on avoiding uncertainty, we skew our logic, taking anything over dreaded uncertainty.

The good news is that you can create your reality.

Fearing anxiety makes the things you dread seem like things you know. We assume rather than reasoning.

As therapists, one word we use for this is ‘Awfulising’.

Fearing anxiety changes uncertainty from possibility to threat. The fear of fear works its way deep inside and prevents us from critical balanced thinking, often when we need that ability most. It blurs our ability to think rationally with emotion, The Chimp in our minds is in charge.

Fear can also make you inactive when there is an opportune moment, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is a fictional version of the world born of and bred by fear, but it isn’t always the reality.

Confronting fearing anxiety behaviour within ourselves is key to relief from it and here are some useful tools:

Identifying assumptions  helps, what is real and what is assumed on the basis of the fear?

When is the poisoned parrot on your shoulder feeds negativity into your ears, silence it.

Are you rationalising? justifying? projecting beliefs onto unrelated situations, or simply making excuses?

Do you notice yourself jumping to conclusions while stuck in those familiar shortcuts to them?

Are you seeing fiction as truth?

Are you thankful for what you do have, or struggling because you’re counting curses rather than blessings? Can you identify the difference between your strengths and your weaknesses, and can you live with your weaknesses?

Can you let go of your pain or are you identified by yourself (or others) due to it?

Are you building your own reality from guesses and maybe untruths, or your fears?

Most importantly, what are you missing out on?

Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy aren’t magic wands, they’re spades, hard work in therapy challenges the above.

You as client do a job and so does the therapist, if the therapeutic relationship is strong then results are best when the right therapist, right client and right time coincide.

Using the questions above, and with professional focused help, you can identify the negative patterns in your thinking and begin work to check them out, perhaps challenge them…

… and maybe change them.

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Support Bolton

Anxiety Support Bolton is a resource to help understand anxiety from experiences and feedback of clients in Bolton whose anxiety I work with. See other resources here.

Perhaps a sense of interior discomfort or a feeling that their bodies are troubled by physical warning signs, it leads to the same outcome.

In trying to gain control, they can ignore the gut feelings and avoid internal awareness which can mean they hide within and from themselves.

Ignoring these feelings leads as a result to secondary feelings of confusion, and shame. That can mean closing off or panic symptoms because any sensory change makes them feel like a “little boat on a big sea”.

The result can be a fear of fear itself.

Fear comes from a primitive response to a threat where escape is difficult, impossible or embarrassing.

Perhaps we’re stuck on motorways, in planes, in meetings or in crowds.

Relief comes not just from external aids such as drugs, but more helpfully from changing how we feel by how we think, or react subconsciously.

Such fear is no respecter of intelligence, creativity, gender or status.

However it does have common threads.

The sufferer’s field of vision is probably inward not outward.

It can cause people to freeze.

Everything can suddenly seem blurry.

Making decisions, even simple ones is hard.

We can feel self-conscious.

Maybe it comes from the need to please others or conform. Perhaps fatigue, repressed emotions, setting the bar too high or too much responsibility.

Some of the feelings can include shame, self-blame, or frustration at being trapped in a repeating cycle.

In all the years, we haven’t made enough progress to break this negative mind/body link.

Psychology can explain  but those primitive parts of the brain don’t switch off so easily.

By being over-vigilant and reacting to inappropriate or misunderstood danger signals, we see danger where there isn’t any.

We become overwhelmed and therefore we dread.

We don’t feel fully alive, our senses work overtime but feel dulled, the body keeps a score.

Language, and the Talking-Cure of therapy is our solution in Anxiety Support Bolton.

By communicating, learning to move back into our inner selves and finding meaning, we can make some sense

In conclusion, We can find our peace.

Anxiety Help Bolton

Anxiety Help Bolton.

I’ve heard a lot about anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve heard anxious people say “I feel like I’m going mad, like I’m going to die, I feel out of control, I worry about everything”.

It can be constant and therefore they become exhausted.

They also worry that someone will find out.

It can strike out of the blue.

It can prevent travelling.

It can cling on to them.

They feel dread.

Alone.

I know a lot about anxiety and panic attacks because it’s my main focus of work.

Most of all, I know it’s treatable.

I know that Psychiatrists believe up to 30% of the population suffer with anxiety at any one time, that it costs the economy £80 million every year. That it can commonly be found alongside depression.

I also know it isn’t new, but maybe what triggers it is new.

Often the future is where the problem begins. Sometimes it’s society because if we compare ourselves with others and come off worst in social media, it can feel like a competition.

Perhaps it’s a build-up of things that finally reaches a tipping point. Maybe a single life event that maybe brings it on.

Whatever the cause, Anxiety Help Bolton therapy first of all gives you tools to rationalise, a strategy.

Because you’re not alone.

You don’t have to feel the dread.

You can challenge those negative thoughts.

You can learn to recognise patterns in the negative voices

No one should have to spend their days being afraid of being afraid.

Use integrative therapy, drawing from hypnotherapy, counselling, analysis or behavioural methods (such as CBT) to help.

I know that you can learn the coping skills and methods that can bring you back from that exhausting hamster wheel of worry and panic to embrace the life that is waiting for you.

I know as an Anxiety UK therapist that psychotherapy and hypnotherapy can help.

I know this because it happened to me.

For help first of all contact me below.

 

 

Anxiety perfectionists

Welcome to the second part of my anxiety perfectionists tools designed to help you feel better faster, if you missed the first installment, you can access it here.

OK, let’s carry on..

Really important this next one – You create the pressure in any given situation, it comes not from external pressures, but how you frame and respond to those pressures. You make pressure and if you make it, you can unmake it. Remember, If there is no perfect way to do something, then there is no pressure to do it any other way than your way, and you’re the world’s leading expert in doing things your way already.

 

Other peoples’ opinions do not have to determine how you feel, your opinion is most importantyou have the right not to have to justify what you do. Your opinion of how efforts are, is more important than anyone else’s.

 

You have the right to say, “no”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t want to” or ‘I don’t understand’. That’s empowering just in itself and deserves its own post but for the meantime, turn it over in your mind, maybe try it, maybe little things at first just to see how it feels…

 

Avoid words like ‘must’ ‘should’ and ‘ought’. These are judgmental words that paint you into a corner. They are not part of your anxiety perfectionists toolkit. More importantly, they set up pressure and expectation upon you to behave a certain way when you might not feel that way. We’re working toward authenticity, the conscious and subconscious being in harmony. Try ‘could’ instead and be more gentle with yourself.

 

Finally, just get on and do it. Putting things off and going over them endlessly feeds perfectionism. It’s the ‘Analysis = Paralysis’ equation. Remember the successful people mentioned above? Many of them failed many many times before they were finally successful in a goal.

 

Instead of aiming for perfection, try aiming for excellence, and remember that as long as you’ve done your best, then no-one can ask any more of you than that.

Perfection anxiety

Perfection anxiety happens when we put pressure and expectation on ourselves, when perceived ability to cope is less than demands. It can have an effect on confidence and self-esteem, causing all those symptoms set out in my other posts on anxiety here.

 

One of the causes of perfection anxiety is a fear of  not being good enough, so what can we do in the short-term to reassure ourselves? Do you remember re-framing from this earlier post?

Here are some of the themes and re-frames I sometimes work into therapy with perfectionists and perfectionism, if you struggle with needing to be perfect, why not try them on for size…?

 

First, you don’t have to be perfect, nobody else is. Remember the old saying, “Never judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes?” – that’s the point, no matter how much ‘perfect’ we project onto someone else, from the inside their world is probably every bit as difficult as everyone else’s, and if you don’t believe me, just ask them.

After all, how many ‘perfect’ celebrities with their perfect bodies, houses, partners and lives have you seen end up in rehab, the divorce courts or worse?

 

Second, there is no perfect way of doing anything. As we get older, this becomes an easier concept to grasp but there really are many ways to achieve a specific goal in life. What’s also important is to realise that the getting there is part of the process, and often the fun.

Think about a goal you set yourself, maybe an education or fitness course or saving for something. I expect that when you got there, it was different from how you imagined it at the beginning, that the journey changed you as much as the goal.

 

Next, if you’re not doing something as well as you’d like, just accept it. Sometimes trying harder increases the pressure on you, makes you miserable and hurts your performance. You won’t be good at everything all the time, sometimes you’ll struggle or fail. If you study the lives of successful people, you’ll find that failing is a vital part of how they succeeded.

 

Be sure to catch the second part of this blog for more resources to use today to relieve perfectionism.