Wednesday 2 December 2015


"Anybody out there who does not suffer occasionally with anxiety should count themselves lucky. I know when it has come to visit me it affects my whole body, how I feel and behave. I can equate it to being frightened but now knowing why.
How do I get over it I hear your shout!  
Well trying to retrain my brain into not being anxious is not always easy, as my thoughts are my worst enemy. However what I try to do is either think of something positive, funny or cute. Then with I sit and watch with my minds eye, the antics of a large box of cute, tiny kittens, I can feel their warm bodies, their soft fur and hear them purring, this does bring a smile to my lips and eases any anxiety. Try it, it doesn't have to be kittens, you chose". - Susan

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Anxiety is a big deal. According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, generalised anxiety disorder accounts for 30% of GPs’ mental health caseload. There are likely to be many more of us with mild to moderate anxiety, though - we all know someone with a tendency to over-worry about things.

It's certainly the most common issue I see in my hypnotherapy practice and the latest YouGov survey found significantly higher levels of anxiety among women than men.

Anxiety can manifest itself in different ways, from fears and phobias to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and trichotillomania (hair pulling). The most common is generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), which can be described as being 'chronic worrying' and include things like catastrophising (“He's late, he must have been hit by a car!'), problems with sleep, irritable bowels, and tension in the body. We all feel like this at times, but if it's affecting your life, it's time to take action.

The first step to feeling better is recognising that there is an issue and deciding to do something about it. It's important that if you suspect you have anxiety that you speak to your GP and get it properly diagnosed.

In the meantime, here are a few of my tried and tested, evidence-based techniques to help you to beat anxiety.


It may not be a long-term solution, but distracting yourself can dial down the intensity and help break patterns of anxiety. When you first notice anxious thoughts or feelings, tell yourself 'STOP!' and quickly find something else to do. Get on the phone to a friend, go for a run, do some writing or focus on your breathing...

2/ B-R-E-A-T-H-E

Controlled breathing short-circuits anxiety in the brain by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ response).

Breathe in, watching how your belly expands like a balloon, and let it flatten with the exhalation. Sit comfortably and breathe in for a count of 7 and then out for a count of 11. You can count as fast or as slowly as you like - it's the ratio that is important. Do this for a few minutes or until you feel calm.


Just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true. Anxious thoughts are often irrational or distorted. Worried that someone at work is annoyed with you? If there’s no reason why they would be, recognise that it’s your tendency to think the worst at play.


Writing things down not only helps you get things in perspective; the physical act of writing also has an effect on the subconscious mind. Try this daily writing exercise. In the morning, or, if you struggle with sleep, at night before bed, write a stream of consciousness. Get all of your worries, anxious thoughts and feelings down on paper. Doesn't it feel good to get it all out? Once you've done that, it's time to boost your positivity by writing a list of all the things you are thankful for. Studies show being grateful boosts feelings of wellbeing, so note down the big things (I'm grateful for my family/my home/my health) and small things (It's a sunny day/this coffee tastes great/it's nearly the weekend). Following this, set your intention for how you would like to be feeling, thinking and acting. For example, 'I am feeling safe and relaxed', 'I am feeling in control', 'I know everything will be okay'. It can be helpful to state these in the present tense, since this makes you more likely to take it on board subconsciously.


This technique is borrowed from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Write down your worry and then give it a 'rational response'. For example, for 'That presentation went terribly, I'm a failure and everything is going wrong', you could answer back, 'The presentation did not go as well as I would have liked, however I have learned a lot for the next time and the presentation will not matter at all in a few days’ time'. You could even imagine that a best friend is answering back for you. Getting into the habit of writing down worries and answering back trains your mind to see things more rationally.

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