As an MBPsS and MBACP accredited counsellor and psychologist based in London, Divya C Berry is able to help with a range of anxiety disorders and counselling. Anxiety counselling sessions are currently taking place via online video consultations.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a prevailing sense of doom, or gloom, about what could go wrong. It belongs to the spectrum of anxiety disorders, which include many, but the prevalent underbelly is that of a set of thoughts, feelings, emotions that evoke a feeling known as ‘anxiety’.
The words and feelings associated with anxiety, simply put, are:
- a feeling of nervousness
- panic attacks
- feeling stressed
- a sense of impending danger
- panic about what may happen
Anxiety health problems are both mental and physical, and in fact, the latter plays a larger role than we may realise. Learning to live with and overcome one’s anxiety involves a myriad list of techniques and methods, some of which are fairly simple while others need to be learnt. The experience of working with your anxiety to overcome it is definitely one that needs patience and support, as well as a better understanding of how anxiety impacts the mind and the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety presents itself in the mind in terms of thoughts and ideas, and in the body in terms of physical sensations.
Mental Symptoms of Anxiety
Mentally, the symptoms of anxiety involve:
- disconnected thoughts
- fixated ideas
- repeated thought intrusion
- tendency for the same idea to appear over and over
- irrational thoughts
- unnatural concern about something
- ruminating about the future
- introspective thinking that is beyond the normal realm
- imagining the worst
- focusing only on the negative
- inability to see the bigger picture
and many more that can cause serious disruption not just of the quality of life experienced, but also constitute real health problems that leave the person quite unwell and incapacitated.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
The physical symptoms of anxiety may involve:
- pulse racing
- rapid breathing
- pupils dilating and constricting
- blood pressure rising
- migraine headaches
- sweat palms
- dry mouth
- weakened limb movements
- jittery limbs
- involuntary movements
- upset stomach
- stomach reflex
and many more that can range from simple headaches to panic attacks and causing a visit to the emergency room.
Common Anxiety Disorders
The spectrum of anxiety disorders include the following: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, Social Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Separation Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
All of these disorders present differently, and are reflective of their own extremity or mildness, but the common theme is feeling anxious with a fear of what may be. Even if a person does not exhibit all the symptoms required for it to be clinically classified as a disorder, they can be a victim and sufferer of anxiety, and indeed, anxiety can color the landscape of their lives in a deep-seated, toxic way that is even more difficult to diagnose.
How Can Therapy Help With Anxiety?
Anxiety counselling helps by helping you to identify your own anxiety triggers, sort out what feels real and what is unlikely to happen, and most of all, provide a safe space to take all the unresolved fears and feelings around anxiety that can render a person quite incapacitated.
Once some stability is reached through this process, awareness building work can begin with the idea of rooting oneself in the present and literally training the self to not be focused on what may happen in the future.
The safe space of the therapy room is an area where the person does not need to explain why the anxious thoughts feel totally real to them – that version of their story is completely accepted and received with empathy. Not being judged and given the opportunity to tell your own story in your own words can go a long way towards opening up hidden wounds and stuck spaces in the psyche. Therapeutic interventions for anxiety relief is a process – a process of getting to know the whole person and working with them compassionately to overcome the helpless and hapless feelings around this set of disorders.
Coping Techniques for Anxiety
First of all, ground yourself. Become aware that, while the experience you are having feels real and your symptoms are real, they are mostly about something that is either yet to take place or not real in its entirety in the way it has arrived in your mind. The mind is quick to remodel old patterns and the brain makes synaptic connections quicker than we can manage; hence grounding yourself by way of simple measures like deep breathing, taking off one’s shoes and walking barefoot on the ground, and removing screens from around us, go a long way in beginning the grounding process.
Next, it would be important to look into one’s repertoire of skills and techniques that have come either from therapy or awareness building and self knowledge, in order to understand what are the causes of stress in the current moment and an assessment of how well resourced you may be to deal with it. This is not the moment to imagine the worst case scenario, but rather to imagine your resources in dealing with the worst as it appears in your mind.
Different therapies promote different techniques including CBT, behavioural therapy, stress release and chakra healing. Gestalt therapy has its own method which involves imagery, body work, and releasing feelings in the here and now of the moment.
My Approach to Anxiety Counselling: Training and Experience
Anxiety is the gap between now and laterFritz Perls
This quote singularly captures the essence of how Gestalt Therapy deals with anxiety. The focus is on understanding how anxiety is rooted in a fear of what may be, in the future, and what may not be. Gestalt techniques that seek to ground the client go a long way in helping root themselves in the here and now, hence the potential to not get too caught up in the future or the past.
The extreme and uncomfortable feelings associated with anxiety, both mental and visceral, are usually about the dread of what may come later, of an event that is yet to take place. Hence, the play on the words – now and later.
In my experience of working with anxiety in London and elsewhere, I first try to create a sense of honesty through empathy about the extent of debilitating thoughts the client has had. The first place to begin is that of removing the feelings of shame and vulnerability experienced as the logical mind may know that some of these thoughts are useless and may never happen; however, getting in touch with the illogical and irrational in the self can feel demeaning and difficult.
Moving on from that feeling of trust and confidence, it would involve hearing the person’s story, the whole journey, of when anxiety began for them and all the forms it takes place in. Finally a lot of our work would involve grounding, imagery, body work which would literally mean learning to identify triggers and also notice where in the body anxiety is felt. Knowing these triggers and symptoms would go a long way in helping the mind to notice their arrival at the early stages and perhaps ‘halt’ the anxiety process.
Here are some resources which you may find of help in overcoming stress and anxiety:
- The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- The Meaning of Anxiety by Rollo May
Final Thoughts on Anxiety
In conclusion, come to a professional counsellor to help deal with your anxiety, whatever its degree. In the safety of the therapy setting, many fears can be assessed, reassessed and released; more importantly, you can equip yourself with a toolbox of your own to better understand your anxiety triggers and hence be equipped to cope with them when they do arrive – especially unannounced.
Other counselling services
For anxiety coping, counselling and therapy in London or anywhere via video consultation, please click here for more information or get in touch via the form below.