Dealing with Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress are a natural part of human experience that alerts us to potentially dangerous situations so are useful in protecting us.  We all feel some anxiety before a performance, or a sports event, this adrenaline boost helps us to perform at our best. This is a normal level of anxiety felt in response to a specific situation and once that situation is past it subsides. This is known as performance enhancing good stress that motivates us.

We can also feel stressed and anxious when we are unable to cope with the demands on us, our time, our emotions or our energy.  Again, this is a normal reaction that everyone experiences from time to time in relation to stressful events or an increase in pressure and demands on us at home or at work. This usually subsides over time once the event has passed or the pressure or demands decrease and we feel supported by those around us.

However, too much anxiety is counter-productive, preventing us from living fully and enjoying our lives. Problems arise when anxiety continues once the stressful situation has passed, is provoked by non-threatening situations or has no apparent cause.

Chronic anxiety means our bodies are continually in “fight or flight” mode, producing adrenaline and other hormones which affect many parts of our body.  We remain in a state of “high alert” and may react strongly to even minor events as if they were a major threat. The resulting physical symptoms can be very distressing, even frightening.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • not being able to stop or control worrying thoughts
  • feeling unable to think, or process information
  • feeling tense, nervous or on edge
  • feeling alert and watchful all the time
  • irritability with yourself and others
  • feeling afraid, as if something bad might happen
  • behaving in ways intended to avoid or prevent the bad thing happening
  • rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, excessive sweating
  • digestive problems, diarrhoea, constipation, “butterflies” in the stomach
  • panic attacks
Person dealing with depression

How can counselling and psychotherapy help?

Sometimes difficult situations at home or work may be ongoing or we may not have enough support to draw on to help us through. We can get caught up in unhealthy patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that fuel our anxiety in a vicious cycle which can be very destructive. Over time anxiety can become debilitating to the point where it may lead to depression and feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Counselling and psychotherapy can be helpful in breaking out of this cycle and preventing greater problems developing. It provides a safe space to explore your feelings, thoughts and behaviours and can help you to identify the causes and triggers for your anxiety. The process can also help you to find effective strategies for addressing the causes and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

Linda Lawler, West Leicester Therapist

My name is Linda Lawler and I am a UKCP accredited integrative counsellor and psychotherapist working in Leicester.  I work with a broad range of clients aged 18 and above from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and occupations facing a wide variety of issues. Based in Leicester my practice is easy to get to. It’s on a main bus route from the City Centre and there is plenty of free street parking.