Have you ever felt an uncomfortable feeling of fear or impending disaster?
This may be your natural response to pressure when facing a challenging and possibly dangerous situation. This pressure may not be about what’s happening around you, it may be about the demands you place on yourself.
Some anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation, but when the anxiety level is too high finding an effective way of managing the stressful or threatening situation is often very difficult. This overwhelming feeling can have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing. It may cause disruption in your functioning in relationships, affect your performance at work and negatively impact your general enjoyment of life.
Your body responds to situations that provoke stress by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. This is called your stress response and when working properly it improves your ability to perform well under pressure or react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure you are feeling.
However, if you are feeling there is no way out of a miserable situation day after day over long periods of time, you are likely to be experiencing some of the following symptoms:
Difficulty stopping the constant thinking, irritability and restlessness.
Difficulty concentrating, upset stomach or nausea and difficulty sleeping.
Can’t cope with even small things that would otherwise not be difficult for you, leaving you exhausted.
Opting out of social activities and withdrawing from relationships, avoidance behaviour.
Having physical symptoms like headaches, muscular pain with no medical condition present, trembling, even faintness or dizziness.
Stress does not have to control your life. If you increase your awareness and resources to manage your stress, you can develop the resilience to regain control over the feelings.
There is a theory that a person's thoughts in response to an event or situation or perhaps your own interpretation of that event, causes the anxious feelings and behaviours. This suggests that if you are able to identify unhelpful beliefs and thought patterns, which are negative, irrational and often automatic, and replace them with more constructive and helpful ways of thinking, you will have achieved a great start to developing resilience.
An effective strategy is using coping statements. Develop a set of statements that will counteract worrying thoughts. For example "This is difficult but I have been through it before and have got through it okay", this will not last much longer". Substitute one of the reassuring or coping statements for the troubling thought.
People tend to have a greater ability to manage stressful events than they sometimes realise. Once you have identified the situations that are contributing to your anxiety, try writing down the problem and be very specific in your description, including what is happening, where, how, with whom, why, and what you would like to change.
Come up with as many options as possible for solving the problem, and make a commitment to yourself to action your chosen solution.
In addition to working with your thoughts, it is most beneficial to pay attention to your lifestyle choices.
Have you increased your exercise?
Are you limiting your caffeine and alcohol consumption – as excess may leave you vulnerable to anxiety?
Do you have a busy life? Can you build in rest and leisure time, something to look forward to each day.
Do you need to plan your time more efficiently, so that you are not left feeling exasperated with unrealistic expectations and too much to get through in a day?
Ultimately, it is you who is in charge of your lifestyle choices as well as how to think differently about stressful situations. Understanding yourself and utilizing positive strategies will assist you in reducing the unhelpful fear and disaster feeling.