Dr Pam Spurr uses her Doctorate in Psychology to help people by offering an agony-aunt style, self-help service to people with a variety of personal problems. As well as authoring several self-help books, Dr Pam offers advice online, in newspapers and has made appearances on television and radio. Here’s what Dr Pam has to say about anxiety…
What’s Going on with Your Anxiety?
You assume most people know what you mean when you mention ‘anxiety’, but anxiety can be experienced in many forms. What you experience might be very different to what a best friend feels when they say that they’re anxious.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Everything seems like it’s ‘too much’
- Any little thing can make you worry
- You keep worrying about things you’ve done in the past – even small ‘mistakes’ you’ve made play on your mind
- You worry about everything that you have to do in future – the coming days, weeks, and months loom large
- Your stomach feels like it’s tied in knots
- You can’t relax your body and might get symptoms like tension headaches
- Your heart feels like it’s going too fast
- Feelings of dizziness, sweaty palms and feeling ‘out of sorts’
- Finding it hard to sleep
- You’re very self-critical
You’re not alone in experiencing such symptoms because we have an epidemic of anxiety – there are so many demands on us! Many celebrities like David Beckham and Kim Kardashian have opened up about feelings of anxiety. David hasn’t mentioned specific reasons for his anxious feelings but Kim puts hers down to the trauma of being robbed in Paris last year. Your anxiety could’ve started slowly or come about after an unhappy or stressful event.
What is anxiety?
Everyone knows what a phobia is – the fear of heights is called acrophobia, for example. Anxiety is like a fear but it’s free-floating, so a phobic person copes pretty well unless they must face their phobia – like a fear of spiders.
“You might be anxious about all sorts of daily things like going online or bigger issues like problems around the world, your friends having problems, or your relationships”
Anxiety however, is ‘just always there’. It can peak and be really intense or sometimes be in the background. Usually it’s pretty constant and this is why it saps your energy. You might be anxious about all sorts of daily things like going online or bigger issues like problems around the world, your friends having problems, or your relationships.
Once anxious, practically anything can worry you and change your behaviour. Zayn Malik described feeling ‘paralysed’ by his anxiety.
Check out these tips for dealing with Anxiety:
- Never feel ashamed of your anxiety. Confide in friends, family, the school nurse, your GP, etc. Simply sharing it takes some of the burden away.
- Limit how time much you spend online. Tons of research shows being online heightens anxiety – give yourself daily breaks.
- Watch what you eat and drink. Caffeine, processed foods and sugar heightens feelings of anxiety. Try eating good, basic food and avoiding things like fizzy drinks.
- You might think alcohol will relax your nerves but it doesn’t. There’s a ‘rebound’ effect and your anxiety comes back stronger when the alcohol wears off.
- Might sound silly but do try a relaxation technique like meditation or yoga. You can find out about these online.
- Learn to ‘police’ your thinking. When you start telling yourself that something’s going to go wrong, you’re going to fail at something, that you wish you could take back something you did in the past, tell yourself to “stop”.
- Replace anxious thinking with something calming like: “I’m going to be okay, I can cope.”
- Start exercising, even a little. Exercise burns off excess energy and will help you sleep better.
- Train your mind to think about what you’re doing right now. Anxious people allow their thoughts to go out of control. Force yourself to think about the sights and sounds around you at that moment
- If anxiety persists, see your doctor and also check @NHSDirect @AnxietyUK @CharityNoPanic for advice and tips.