We feel the levels of anxiety rising by the day, particularly with the uncertainty and lack of control and freedom we have around the world right now. We have therefore discussed some anxiety issues and solutions with the wonderful and incredibly experienced holistic psychotherapist and Director of the Complete Calm Company, Victoria Brown. We hope it can bring some calm to the often busy mind we all have.
Why do you think anxiety has risen so much in the last 5-10 years? What role does social media play in our levels of anxiety?
The main cause of levels of anxiety rising, is, in my opinion, that we have lost our connection with ourselves.
I think that anxiety has been rising very consistently over the last 20 years, there has been a real emphasis on technology-assisted communication instead of face-to-face communication and this has led, ironically, to higher levels of disconnection.
We are spending increasing periods interacting with an outside object, outside of ourselves and often once removed from another person and so are in a state of being constantly removed from our connection to ourselves.
A mobile phone for most of us is constantly there just by our side to tempt us away from being with ourselves. We have the permanent lure of a fix… I’ll just get this, I’ll just read this, I’ll watch this now instead of waiting until I get home.
Our ability to wait is eroded, our ability to delay gratification is eroded and our ability to be aware of ourselves and what our true basic needs are is lost.
As I say all this I am aware that I may seem to suggest that anxiety appears to be something that is caused from the outside but in reality it always occurs from the inside. There will always be difficulties, stressors, or external factors that will challenge us or not conform to our ‘normal’. It is however how we respond to these challenges that matters and that response comes from our emotional resilience. We always have a choice as to how we react and respond to things and we need to champion Emotional resilience as the way to greater levels of calm and stability.
“We are living at a fast pace and the speed of the pace means that we don’t slow down sufficiently to be with how we feel and how we are thinking. Thoughts get lost and obstructed by all the stimulation from outside and this doesn’t lead to balanced healthy functioning human beings. ‘
We need to find the space now that isn’t readily available and we need to make time to just be. This does not mean lighting a candle and staring out of the window for 5 minutes a day and saying that it’s mindfulness!
We live in our own bodies and minds. Whatever happens outside us we need to remind ourselves an innate state of calm, well-being and safety is always there, always with us, always willing and able to provide a safe space and a calm place, we need to remember to stay here more often.
Name 5 Wellness tips on how to practically reduce stress and anxiety when it is acute and for long-term anxiety:
- If you are experiencing an acute moment of anxiety I would advise you to be in or get to a safe place and by that, I mean somewhere you are not going to hurt yourself or others. Call a family member or friend to calm the immediate panic.
Understanding. Be more self-aware. Get to know yourself, and spend time really acknowledging your feeling and thinking states. Know what puts you in a bad place, and know when you are triggered or fearful. Be with yourself and treat yourself like the person you care most about in the world. Because at the end of the day, you are the person you should care most about.
- BREATHING well is the key to help many situations and breathing can help you to reduce your anxiety levels. We’ve often seen people being told to breathe into a paper bag when they are panicking and this can be a helpful tool. Lengthening the breath helps, making our out-breath longer and focusing on our breathing can help the mind to focus and to reduce negative thoughts. Practice meditation with the help of so many online apps now is fantastic, like Calm or Headspace.
- Get good sleep, good rest, and eat a healthy and balanced diet. Stay hydrated. Watch out for when you press the button for ‘doing’ and when you feel you’re not doing enough, these are judgemental thoughts. Be aware and ask, is that voice yours or someone else’s, is that thought helpful or negative? Be kind to yourself.
Can food affect our anxiety and stress? If so do you have any dietary advice on what we could be adding to stay more balanced and less stressed?
Understanding our bodies and minds is the key to everything we choose to put into our bodies.
Food absolutely can put stress and pressure on the body and mind and therefore we need to treat our body with some respect and understanding. Knowing that drinking a bottle of wine and eating some greasy, sugary or salty foods is going to put us in a very different state to eating nothing for example or drinking lots of water is key.
When you reach for food that is a trigger food as I call it, question, why is it that I’m always going for chocolate when I begin to feel sad or why is it that I always want a bowl of mashed potatoes when I’m feeling cold or tired? We use food all the time to mood alter and we use it like any other drug that we can put into our body. When we have a better sense of who we are and what triggers us then we can amend our diet accordingly.
It’s to be noted from a nutrition point of view that we should be eating as much green leafy veg as possible to put our bodies in a state of calm. This has a very nurturing and soothing effect on the body as well as delivering lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
We need to be hydrated properly and we need to pay attention to when we are stressed or feeling anxious as this will increase dehydration. It is essential that if you are experiencing long periods where you feel stressed exhausted or anxious that you make sure you hydrate with water.
Tea, coffee and sugary drinks will only dehydrate us further.
We can also make a linseed tea, grind up some linseeds and then put them in some boiling water. The mix may go a little gloopy but it has a very soothing effect on the body and the nervous system. It’s a quick and easy way to soothe the body.
For more information on how Victoria could help you or your business with one-to-one sessions or corporate stress relief visit her website on the thecompletecalmcompany.co.uk