Today we started off the group by looking at the ways in which anxiety can affect us.
*When you are stressed, adrenaline gets released into your body ready to run away or fight what it thinks is dangerous or threatening. When we were cave people, this was useful, as we were living in the wild and faced many dangers that were threatening to us. Obviously this does not happen to us in the same way nowadays, but there are times when our body feels we are in danger and that harm might come to us, e.g. if we are nearly knocked down by a car, or if climbing up a high step-ladder or if hearing a loud noise. These are everyday events which may make anyone release adrenaline into his or her body. If someone is under stress or tends to worry a lot, adrenaline can be released into the body even though there is nothing really threatening or dangerous to that person. An everyday event such as going to the shops, travelling by bus or being with a large group of people can feel frightening and the body reacts by releasing adrenaline. When adrenaline is released, the feelings in our body can change and can make us feel horrible*
With this in mind we asked group members to write down on post-it notes the ways in which their bodies responded to anxiety. The examples given were; sore head, racing heart, dry mouth, sore stomach, weak legs, clenching fists and grinding teeth.
We then looked at ways in which we could learn how to deal with anxiety. One of the ways we looked at achieving this was through relaxation. *When we are tense/anxious our body speeds up – relaxation slows us down again. If we can learn the tools of relaxation we can turn off the symptoms of tension. You can’t experience relaxation and tension at the same time.*
*Examples of relaxing activities are: Having a long hot bath, Going for a walk, swim, cycle, listening to some soothing music and lying on your bed and imagining spending £1Million.*
*When you are anxious, adrenaline builds up in your body. Daily exercise helps to use up some of this adrenaline. You will feel better as a result.*
The group then did a relaxation exercise as described below:
- Sit back comfortably in your chair, feel your back against the back of the chair
- Put both feet flat on the ground and feel how solid it is
- Close your eyes (optional)
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it and count slowly to 4, then let it go through your mouth, pushing out your abdomen at the same time.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times to feel calmer and to slow the pace of your breathing.
The exercise can be repeated again after some time has passed. It is especially helpful in reducing heart-rate at the first times of a panic attack. Another good thing about this exercise is how you can use it while travelling (counting breaths in your head) on the bus for example or other situations that provoke anxiety. Group members found this exercise to be very relaxing. We then went on to do a mindfulness meditation. What came from our final discussion was the fact that we are all individuals and it’s finding out what works best for you to and going with it.
*Taken from How to Manage Anxiety (p.6) by Nicola Stuckey and Neil Millar 2003*