Anxiety* affects everyone at some point in their lives, but some people experience it a lot of the time. The experience of anxiety could be likened to the feeling of being pursued by a dangerous animal when in fact there is no emergency. It is useful to us if there is some impending danger, but a real nuisance if we experience it on a daily basis and without apparent reason or cause. Other signs and symptoms include: fearfulness or fretting; feeling insecure; fast pulse rate; sweaty palms; fast and shallow breathing; feeling powerless; fear of losing control; trouble concentrating because of persistent worrying.
In EFT we can work with anxiety in many different ways. In positive EFT we can use a positive word and simply tap on that word. ‘calm’ might be a useful word, or ‘peace’ or ‘confidence.’ Whatever the person feels that they would like to feel more of. The ‘tap and talk’ technique can be helpful where the individual voices their worries or concerns whilst tapping. If we can learn to hear what the anxiety voice is saying then we can also answer it back, effectively reassuring ourselves. For example, if it says ‘you will fail the driving test, you’re so nervous now you are going to… and then you’ll have to go through all of this again…’ and so on. How would you respond to a friend who said this? Learn to respond to the anxiety voice as you would a good friend who you care about. Use EFT when you are feeling okay rather than always waiting until you are very anxious. EFT might stop the rise of anxiety or even prevent it from coming. With persistence you can make long-lasting changes. Depending on the severity you may need initially to work with an experienced practitioner who understands anxiety.
People can have many root causes for anxiety. Some of the theories is that its hereditary, that we learn it from anxious parents or very strict caregivers in childhood, or that it is rooted in some trauma we have experienced. Wherever it came from, I believe you can overcome or at the very least dramatically improve it.
Developing an awareness of the triggers of our anxiety can empower and reassure us, when we can say ‘I am feeling anxious and that’s probably because…’ when we know what brings it on or makes it worse. Some people find that they are more anxious in certain situations or around certain people, or if they haven’t slept well. It may sound obvious but everyone’s triggers are in fact unique, and getting to know them is empowering. Future tapping can also help whereby you do EFT for a future situation, when you know an anxiety provoking situation is ahead. Finally, learning to breathe properly is essential in dealing with anxiety. This is because when you are feeling anxious your breathing naturally changes to a shallower breath, higher up in the chest which in turn tells the body there is something wrong and to be on guard. Taking slower, mindful breaths gives our body the message that all is well and promotes relaxation and calm.
* = If you experience persistent anxiety, then it might be advisable to talk to a qualified professional about it, and this article and video is not meant to replace that.
I see people for counselling in North Kerry and in person and via Skype for EFT, get in touch to book an appointment.
De-stress: Overwhelm is that feeling that you can’t do everything you need to do. It can be associated with feelings of anxiety; a sensation of your head being all scrambled and it’s hard to think straight. When we are overwhelmed it can be hard to do anything. This is because we are stressed, so the first most important step in moving forward is to de-stress. I have found EFT the fastest and most effective method of de-stressing, and include the video below as an example of a de-stressing round. When our stress levels come down, our outlook naturally shifts and we see things in a more positive and solution-focussed way.
Identify the cause: Do you experience overwhelm a lot? So what causes it? Well I would first ask who caused it. If its work deadlines coming from someone outside of yourself and you had no choice or input as to what you were expected to do, then we call this an external source. But if it came from us having unrealistically high expectations of ourselves and piling jobs onto our to-do list then this is an internal source. In other words we are doing it to ourselves. We can still do this in a work situation if we have perfectionist traits and insist on things being done to a higher standard than is required.
Assertiveness and Boundaries: If it’s external then we need to look at what is within our power to do about it. Is it possible to speak to the person involved and explain that things are getting on top of you and you need some help? If you have a problem asserting yourself or speaking up about your needs it may be useful to get some help with this. Counselling, personal development books or assertiveness classes are all things that could help you. It might be an old pattern that you have, something that was modelled for you as a child. Either way there are things you can do to become more assertive and fair to your own needs.
Rest and Free Time: We can become overwhelmed if we are not getting enough rest and free time. Down time, where you are not expected to do stuff is important. This can be especially hard for working parents or those who work and/or care for others. Similarly for students who are in class and then have other expectations in the evening, studying and perhaps working as well. For your well-being try to schedule in some activities that give you a break from do-ing. Going on social media, or idly surfing the internet isn’t nearly as helpful as getting out in the fresh air or spending time with friends.
As always, EFT can help. Here is another demonstrational video specific to overcoming overwhelm.
Our self-esteem is linked to our mood, and on days or spells where we don’t feel so good our self-esteem often suffers too. It’s amazing, the power of the mind. So how do we get this mind of ours to work with us rather than against us when we aren’t feeling confident? There are many techniques you can learn to add to your toolbox, as it were. You must find what works best for you and then remember to use it/them when you need to. Here are some suggestions:
1. Note how far you have come – List all the things you have achieved in your life that you are proud of. If you are feeling low and being hard on yourself you may have to work hard at this, but it will pay off – persevere. 2. Put things in Perspective – Think of something that you give yourself a hard time about that is linked to your low self-esteem. Every feeling is preceded by a thought, or lots of them. What sort of thoughts come before you experiencing low self-esteem? Now imagine a friend or someone you care about was saying that about themselves. What would you say to them about it? 3. Answer negative thoughts back – the poisonous parrot or low self-esteem gremlin always speaks negatively, but who says you have to lie down and take it? Answer the thought back. Ask yourself, just how accurate is that? Many of our thoughts are repetitive, but we can learn to challenge old unhelpful ones, creating new pathways for better well-being. 4. Better Boundaries – are you a people pleaser? Do you allow people to walk over you? If you do, learn to say no when it’s the best thing for you. Taking on too much, doing too much for others and not being assertive can all contribute to low self-esteem as we feel like we have let ourselves down. 5. Look after your body – not exercising, over-eating and over-drinking are some of the many ways people misuse their body and are linked to self-worth. If you need to seek help for any of these, make it a priority. Don’t let bad habits rob you of your confidence. 6. EFT (emotional freedom techniques – ‘tapping’) – For me, the most powerful thing I have come across in my travels as a counsellor and mental health nurse is EFT. So for this blog I have included a video to demonstrate how to use EFT to increase confidence, as this links to our self-esteem. 7. Me-time – self nurturing gives you the message that you matter. Whether it’s a walk in the park, reading a good book or a spa day doesn’t matter too much, it’s the gesture that you are doing something for you and your well-being. 8. Speak about yourself in a good light – are you always putting yourself down in front of others? ‘I’m no good at this,’ etc? You don’t have to go around blowing your own trumpet all the time but change the way you speak about yourself to a more supportive way, instead you could say ‘I’m working on getting better at….’ Notice the difference?
Holding onto a grudge can be bad for you. Anger is a corrosive emotion, useful only in the short term and very stressful if needlessly prolonged. Furthermore, moving on with one’s life and achieving personal growth is very hard indeed if old grudges keep plunging us back into the past. To forgive is to improve your own health and wellbeing as much as it is to improve your relationships. It is a rare counsellor indeed who will advise you otherwise. However, desirable though forgiveness is, it is not always an easy thing to achieve. Forgiveness cannot be forced, and nor should it be. We should feel able to acknowledge that forgiveness is sometimes hard. We often need to be able to fully process any wrongs done to us before forgiveness can be achieved. Otherwise, our forgiveness may well be in name only, and the old wound will continue to fester.
If you need to forgive someone, chances are that they have wronged you in some way. Unconditional forgiveness is a wonderful concept, and those who can bestow it are lucky indeed. But we are not all saints. It is natural to feel that wrongs should be noted, and your anger is part of that acknowledgement process. While seeking retribution for the ills done to you is not a healthy course of action (history has shown time and time again that this merely prolongs and promotes bad feeling), you should not feel that you must, in the name of forgiveness, immediately dismiss things which hurt you. Instead, try to take a closer look at the hurt and resentment you feel, see it as impartially as possible for what it is, and try to work out a way around it which does not suppress or deny the validity of your feelings. Forgiveness is a process which needs working at, and acknowledging your feelings is a part of that process.
Forgiving someone is always a good idea, but this does not necessarily mean that you have to continue your relationship with them as though nothing had happened. Perhaps you fell out with this person for a reason – you may be a poor mix, character-wise, and bring out the worst in each other. It is perfectly possible to come to an amicable state of forgiveness, and respectfully agree that it may be better for you both to suspend or reduce communications. This can be a tricky position to work out, and needs to be done when you’re in a completely rational and non-recriminatory state of mind. Anger is not always a negative emotion – it can protect us from deeper feelings of hurt and despair – but it is not helpful when you are trying to move on beyond a row and effect true forgiveness.
Forgiveness is essential for moving on and developing, but it needs to be remembered that forgiveness is a complex process which cannot be forced. For more on this, read this article.
Taking the decision to give up a career in finance was a big decision for Mel Billings. It had provided her with security and enabled her to build a good life, but after a period of time in which she suffered a breakdown due to work stress, she decided it would be better to take a break and refocus. During this time, she met her partner and they started a family, and now she writes for a living as well as supporting local mental health charities – the ones that helped her – whilst she was in recovery.
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