Chris Molyneux



Along with Depression, Anxiety has been one of the most prominent and increasing conditions that I have dealt with over the last few years as a Counsellor. There are many suggestions as to why this may be the case; some say it is a result of modern life, others because of the lessening stigma of mental health and so more people talking about it or accessing treatment and a further suggestion may be a result of people holding too much, their buckets just too full with life and its many demands and challenges, resulting in anxiety, stress, panic.

My personal experience, as a Therapist and also just in day to day life, has been a mixture of all of these things mentioned above. Our modern world demands so much of us and also gives us so much information, and at a breakneck speed. Social media is portraying images of perfect lives that we feel we have to live up to but are completely unrealistic. This very apt quote from Action for Happiness seems to capture it so well: "So often we compare our insides to other people's outsides." Alongside this, we are flooded with products, images and advertising that promise to fill our deficits with very impermanent and unsubstantial things (can a can of coke really make me feel that happy?!) And all this is even before you begin to add the many challenges that life can throw up; relationship issues, bereavements, illness, finances, parenting, the list goes on and on.

What this can often lead to is a feeling of being overwhelmed, inadequate, confused, unfulfilled and stressed. What I have experienced happen so frequently with clients is that they carry all these things around with them, making each day a struggle but also it can then just take one more thing to tip people over into panic attacks, breakdowns or just having enough of everything.

This can also be paired with a feeling that we "should" be able to deal with all these things, that they are only little things that everyone else can deal with and feeling so weak and insignificant when we struggle with these "minor" issues. We might not even know why we are feeling the way that we are but are just aware of an uncomfortable, unsettling, difficult feeling that remains with us and can vary depending on our situation or state of mind.

Anxiety can also often be a private battle saved for bedtime routines when we are alone, internal battles that we have with ourselves and that those around us may not be in the least bit aware of. Although sharing this with someone else is sometimes the last thing we want to do, the relief and impact of doing so can be huge. If we are lucky, we have friends that will understand and accept what we are going through and can offer you support through talking about it. Often, this may not be the case and can lead people to access Counselling and other support services.

Knowing that you will be listened to with understanding and not be judged can be such a relief, especially when often we feel as though we are damaged, inadequate and going crazy. Sometimes people are unable to access services like this for a number of reasons (money, time, motivation, embarrassment etc) and so other resources are helpful. I have found the information and support available on very useful. It is informative, free and helpful. As well as this, mindfulness or meditation has been repeatedly proven to reduce anxiety as well as offering many further benefits to everyday living. I have found that Headspace is a great introduction to meditation. It is free (to begin with), is very accessible, guides you the whole way and explains things in a very simple and clear way. Give it a try and you will have the basics to continue the practice without having to subscribe after 10 days!

There are many further practices that are probably no surprise to see that help anxiety; exercise, good diet, being active and doing meaningful activities, spending time with others, doing things you enjoy, having purpose in life. However, sometimes there can be underlying issues which cause anxiety and so some people find that merely reading, practice and changing habits is not enough and a deeper exploration can be helpful. There really is a host of possible solutions but it is such a unique journey that only you will know what feels achievable amongst all these things and which things do and don't work for you. There is not one or the same fix for each person and anxiety is very much an individual journey that you need to find your way on (sometimes getting lost, sometimes needing help).

If you feel that there is anything that you would like to add to this blog post, feedback or to discuss further then please feel free to get in touch.

© Chris Molyneux

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