Life IS stressful – it can be busy, demanding and filled with a never ending to-do list. If it feels like there’s not enough hours in the day (and you’re slipping further down the list of priorities but still can’t get it all done) now’s the time to take stock.

Periods of stress and anxiety have a negative effect on our thoughts, emotions, relationships and health. It can affect our ability to think straight; leaving us feeling overwhelmed, undervalued and not quite good-enough. If you’re feeling less patient, less tolerant and more frustrated – that’s stress showing up in your life and relationships. When we’re stressed we can’t respond in the ways we’d want to, which makes us feel worse about our ability to cope. On top of this, when stress or anxiety last for a period of time, physical health problems can be caused or worsened.

Under these conditions life is exhausting and becomes a treadmill. Other people may tell us to relax but that feels impossible when we’re worried we might miss something, concerned we can’t do something or feel guilty that we haven’t done everything. There’s only a certain amount of time you can function like this before something has to give. Understanding what you’re going through is the first step to changing it so read on to find out more.

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I was hesitant as I don’t usually like speaking too openly and was worried I wouldn’t be able to convey my feelings but I knew I needed to speak about my concerns rather than bottle them up. Now, I’m able to cope with my emotions better and have a positive outlook on the future again.

Female client, Cardiff

Stress and Anxiety – what’s the difference?

Stress and anxiety overlap but they are different things. Stress relates to our facing a difficult event (or series of events) like giving a presentation in work when we hate public speaking or dealing with the fallout of a family crisis. When one or more of these are happening it can tip us into an anxiety response – where we’re less aware of the cause of the stress and more aware of how it feels.

Anxious thoughts and, in some cases, experiencing a traumatic event can trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response in our nervous system. This has physical as well as emotional effects; you might notice your heart racing, shallow breathing, numbness, tension in your body and / or getting hot and breaking into a sweat. This wears down our energy as it feels impossible to relax. It can also rob us of our enjoyment of the things we love and despite the energy in our bodies, it actually stops us from getting things done as the thinking part of our brain isn’t working as it should.

This can become a negative spiral that increasingly affects more areas of our lives. As we struggle with (and feel bad about) another anxious episode this can tip us into more anxiety. This can lead to panic attacks (an overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear) and in some cases, can be triggered by memories of trauma. If you’re feeling caught up in this, it’s important to know something can be done.

How We’ll Work

In our session’s we’ll work in these three ways;

1) The Cause
We’ll look at what’s causing the difficulty; the situations, thoughts, feelings and actions that are ‘triggering’ your ‘fight or flight’ response – they may not be what you think.

2)Your Response
We’ll look at what’s happening in your body – like I said, understanding it is the first step to managing it. This might feel scary alone so working with me can help to reduce the fear.

3)Your Solution
We’ll then look at strengthening your responses against anxiety by working with your body’s natural calming systems. Yes you do still have them, they’ve just become weakened during the period of anxiety and stress. We’ll use different techniques to help you bring them back ‘online’.

This process will help you build your own resilliance and over time you’ll be able to use the techniques yourself in whatever anxious or stressful situation you encounter. I have particular experience in working safely with clients who’ve experienced trauma and abuse, to read more click here.

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