anxiety

Has criticism got you anxious or stressed? How to get back to feeling fab

It’s natural to sometimes feel anxious or stressed when receiving criticism however we should never underestimate the impact anxiety and stress has on us. Both stress and anxiety can have far-reaching effects which can seep into almost all areas of our life, leaving us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

 

I always used to get confused between anxiety and stress but my therapist gave me an insightful way to distinguish between them. Whilst anxiety is invariably related to our perception of the future stress is a reaction to the present.

 

If you think you may be suffering with anxiety or if you often feel anxious when receiving criticism please read my article titled ‘Wars of the mind: How to effectively overcome anxiety’ which uses tried and true cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help reduce and even overcome anxiety.

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Wars of the Mind; How to Effectively Overcome Anxiety Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we explored the lifestyle changes which serve to reduce anxiety. This week we delve into how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help us to halt thinking traps altogether with just a little practice.

 

Actively Axing Anxiety Through CBT

 

I cannot begin to tell you just how profound an impact CBT has had upon my life and this article would not be complete without my strongly encouraging you to read the free ‘Panic Stations’ CCI InfoPax as featured on my best resources page.

 

Whilst lifestyle choices can certainly lessen anxiety symptoms, if you want to see a vast improvement and learn how to effectively manage and considerably reduce your anxiety I would highly recommend working through this exceptional CBT workbook.

 

Within this workbook I would recommend taking the following modules:

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Wars of the Mind; How to Effectively Overcome Anxiety Part Two

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we examined the differences between anxiety and stress. This week we look at the thinking traps that exasperate and contribute towards anxiety and how to begin to notice and avoid them.

 

Thinking Traps to Notice and Avoid

 

There are several thinking traps that we can fall into which can either cause or contribute towards anxiety.

 

The key is to notice when we exhibit such thinking and dismiss the credibility of those thoughts, thereby stopping these thinking patterns becoming established.

 

I have listed them the most common thinking traps below so you too can recognize them when they emerge.

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Anxious? Me? How to read the signs you might be suffering from anxiety

It’s true that both anxiety and worry relate to the future but the similarities end there. One of the key differences between anxiety and worry is that worry is about a single, specific situation, whereas anxiety may impact several situations that fall under a common theme. For example, my anxiety impacts me when I am in the company of new or unfamiliar people.

 

If you find that you are experiencing anxiety one of the easiest ways of identifying it is by recognizing that you may think everyone can visibly see you are anxious. With worry the sense of everyone seeing you are worried does not feel like a burden but with anxiety thinking others can see your anxiousness is draining and actually feeds into your anxiety. There is a sense that you want to hide it at all costs.

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What your anxiety reveals about you (and why you need to know)

In recent years I have fought against anxiety as if it were the enemy, only to realize that it was trying to tell me something very important. Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it, maybe it had to get worse in order for me to pay attention. Recently I’ve learnt that deep down it was trying to tell me that there are parts of my past that haven’t yet healed. Although I’ve come a long way, my anxiety reminds me that I still have a long way to go. That even though I like myself and have forgiven my bullies, the fear of being bullied still remains when I am in the company of new or unfamiliar people.

 

If you think about the times when you were most anxious, what did it surround? Whilst the literal cause of anxiety might relate to something quite specific, the root cause is often something much more generalized. For example, do you get anxious about keeping everyone happy? Is there something unresolved in one of your close relationships and / or do you have a need for all of your relationships to be conflict free? When you were a child did you witness a lot of conflict?

 

For everyone the cause of our anxiety will be different but I would encourage you to delve deeper into the root cause of your anxiety as when you do you may discover your anxiety is trying to show you that you have a deeper issue that needs your attention.

 

Try these three key questions to unravel the message your anxiety might be trying to convey:

 

  • What does my anxiety relate to specifically?
  • What does my anxiety relate to generally?
  • Did I experience what my anxiety relates to generally in the past?

 

Then ask yourself this key question:

 

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Wars of the Mind; How to Effectively Overcome Anxiety Part One

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

I have to admit, anxiety still grips me sometimes; my mind racing through many equally horrid outcomes. Whilst my mind races in destructive patterns of thought, I fuel my fear which is immediately accompanied by an impending sense of dread.  It’s true that I have made several lifestyle choices to reduce the effects of anxiety but, being a huge advocate of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) as I’m sure you know, I decided to investigate a more structured approach in how to tackle anxiety.

 

Today I share the lifestyle choices I learnt with you and explore the CCI InfoPax featured on my best resources page named ‘Panic Stations’, so you too can live a lighter life, one where you control your mind, rather than being held hostage by it. So take heart, when it comes to wars of the mind, this is a fight you can definitely win!

 

The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

 

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Next month’s hot topic – Anxiety

I’m really excited to reveal that next month’s hot topic is anxiety. Having suffered from anxiety myself I know just how debilitating can be. It’s important to remember that anxiety is different from mere worrying (which admittedly is awful too).

 

Whereas worry is considered by psychologists to be normal and tends to relate to something specific, for example, your performance on a test, anxiety is more generalized and all pervasive and is considered by psychologists to be more severe by nature.

 

If you tend to worry a lot please sign up to my mailing list to get your free downloadable eBook ‘Don’t worry, be happy’.

 

For those of you that are unsure as to whether you have experienced or are experiencing anxiety there will be a ‘How anxious are you?’ questionnaire as part of my linear posts in the first week of the series!

 

In next month’s anxiety series we will cover:

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Are your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Here’s how to find out..

When faced with a threat our reptilian brain kicks in and throws us into flight fight or freeze mode. This is an automatic and instinctive response built into us from millennia ago when we had to scavenge for food and fight off lions to survive. The problem today is that this response still exists in us even though we very seldom need it. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is mugged in the street it is a very useful reaction – essential for survival even – but often this fight, flight or freeze response is activated when we perceive a threat, regardless whether one exists or not.

 

For example, if I am at a party and I don’t know anyone, a fight, flight or freeze response isn’t really helpful. Likewise if someone makes a joke and I think it’s about me and jump straight into fight mode, what happens if it comes to light the joke was actually nothing to do with me? What happens when the treat that we perceive isn’t real?

 

Below are some questions to help you assess whether your anxieties and fears are based on real threats or not:

 

  • Is it possible that I have misinterpreted the situation?
  • Is it possible that I have misunderstood what has been said?
  • Is it possible that my perceived threat actually doesn’t exist in this circumstance? (E.g. everyone I don’t know at the party is welcoming and friendly)
  • If there is danger have reasonable precautions been taken to limit it? Do I find these precautions acceptable? Are there any facts that will ease my concern? (E.g. rollercoaster ride safety standards)

 

If there is any chance that your anxieties and fears are not based on real threats then you can try to avoid jumping into fight, flight or freeze mode by rationalizing that your fears are probably exaggerated. You can also limit your anxieties and fears by making a contingency plan for how you would react if your anxieties and fears surfaced. To construct such a plan, aim to answer the questions below but remember not to dwell on the contingency plan as this may feed into your fears, simply make one and then refocus on the task at hand.

 

  • What is the worst that could happen?
  • How could I deal with this if it happens?
  • What could I do that I haven’t done in the past in response to my fears?
  • How can I limit my anxiety if the worst were to happen? (I.e. bring a friend)

 

How do you usually tell if your anxieties and fears are based on real threats? Have you ever thought about it before? What are your anxieties and fears? Will you ask yourself any of the questions above? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community.