COVID19 AND ANXIETY
ANXIETY is really hitting people in the UK right now. I wanted to do a quick post to help understand why this is. It is really important to understand what anxiety is because once you do, that is the first step to working with it.
The body is designed to become anxious. It has been a survival mechanism ever since human beings walked the earth and is likely to be around for as long as human beings walk the earth. You won't be able to eradicate it because when in control of it, it is useful and you don't want it to go anywhere even if you think you do.
The body is designed to become anxious when there is threat to life - when there is a risk of dying. Well right now in this current health crisis there is reason to feel threat to life. The virus can be a threat to life.
However, our brains will also be responding to other perceived threats to life. 'Perceived' is the word to be honing in on here. Many of us will be becoming anxious about other things right now - we have to stop and think whether these things are an actual threat to life because if they aren't then anxiety has no business being present because it will stop you making rational and logical decisions and here is why.....
We have two parts to our brain - a front brain (the computer) and a back brain (the old brain). When we slip into an anxiety response, our computer shuts down. This is the place where logical, rational thinking happens. When anxious this thinking will shut down. When we are trying to survive an actual threat to life, we don't need to be thinking at depth, we need to be surviving. Our old brain takes over - this is very good at getting us our of danger and threat to life by using the fight and flight mechanism (it is also useful to know that there are two other Fs - freeze and flop). This mechanism will shut down vital bodily functions, for example, digesting food (is why we might be sick - or the other end - when anxious as is the body's way of getting rid of food so it doesn't waste energy on digestion) or our reproductive system will shut down (no need to be making babies when we are fighting for survival). This mechanism will increase our senses - we will see better, hear better, smell better etc. It will also blast our bodies with adrenalin - that butterfly feeling you get when anxious - the adrenal glands are in that area and they are pumping adrenalin. Out heart will beat faster to get oxygen to our extremities ready us for fighting or fleeing. You have to agree - it's an amazing biological function, all geared up for survival.
However, it becomes a problem when anxiety kicks in because we perceive a threat to life when we aren't in danger of actually dying. If we are in a situation that is stressful or feels overwhelming but there is no actual IMMEDIATE threat to life then we can allow our computer to be online. We need to tell anxiety that it has no purpose right now (almost thank it for trying to protect you but ask it to leave for the time being) so that we can use our computer to rationally and logically think things through. This won't happen if we allow the anxiety to take over.
The breath is an amazing thing. It sounds so simple but just by simply taking deep controlled breaths (in for count of 7 out for count of 11) we are taking control of the anxiety at a biological level. This in turn means that once we have calmed our body we can then use our computer to decide what to do and how to approach something. But we have to remember to breathe in the first place.
Having a coping tool kit to help relax us and keep calm when anxiety is not needed is useful. I wonder what might be in yours. I have my cats, my books, a walk, exercise, cooking, talking to someone, my own counsellor, scented candles. Some have a cup of tea, baking, rescue remedy and other things like this. It's important that the toolkit contain 'healthy' things so excessive alcohol, drugs, controlled eating, self-harm can exacerbate and make the anxiety worse even if perceived as a coping tool in that moment.
I also find giving anxiety some kind of physical form (what does it look like. Is it human? A different more fictional form? What colour? What features? Does it speak, if so what does it sound like? Does it have a smell? When anxiety appears we can visualise this and ask it for evidence of being there. Cross-examine it as if it is in the dock of a courtroom. If it can't give you evidence we need to thank it for trying to protect us and send it on it's way. Where would you like to send it I wonder?
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost?
An initial 30 minute consultation is £25 with no obligation to begin counselling with me.
The cost of a full 50 minute counselling session is £50
What will a counselling session be like?
When attending a session you will be provided with the opportunity to discuss your emotions, thoughts, feelings, worries and concerns. Sometimes it might involve talking about painful memories or traumatic events that may have happened. This process is necessary to help you to move forward to the aims and goals that you would like to achieve.
I won't give you advice or make suggestions, instead I will listen in a non-judgemental way, experiencing your issues and concerns from your world and work with you to find the right answers, actions or ways forward that will fit best with you.
How do I Pay?
Sessions are payable in advance payment is made upon booking using one of the following methods:-
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Please speak to me about details of advance payment discounts.
How often do I need to attend?
Counselling is a commitment for both client and counsellor.
To make the most out of counselling and to ensure the best chance of success, counselling sessions usually take place once a week and are 50 minutes in length.
At times, fortnightly appointments are available but these are when a client is perhaps coming to the end of their counsellingand would like to ease out of the counselling more gently than simply just stopping.
What is counselling?
Counselling falls under the umbrella term of a 'talking therapy'. When a person attends counselling they are able to discuss their problems, issues and concerns in a safe and confidential environment. People will attend counselling for many different reasons but it is often because they want to change something in their lives or to explore their thoughts and feelings about something in more depth.
Can I end counselling at any time?
You are free to end counselling at any time. However, endings (sometimes called termination of counselling) in counselling is just as important as the counselling itself.
Irvin Yalom, a famous therapist, stated ‘Termination [of a counselling session] is more than an act signifying the end of therapy; it is an integral part of the process of therapy and, if properly understood and managed, may be an important factor in the instigation of change.’
I therefore ask that you let me know if you would like to end so that we can have a formal ending session.